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Questions tagged [phrase]

A phrase is a group of words that form a single unit in the syntax of a sentence.

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22
votes
3answers
31k views

What is the exact meaning of 吃豆腐, and where does the expression come from?

I'm not talking about eating tofu, but the expression that means something more like taking advantage of someone. What exactly does 吃豆腐 mean, and where does this expression come from?
11
votes
6answers
3k views

What's the difference between 对不起, 对不住 and 不好意思

When I was in China, I heard people using 不好意思 to apologize casually. I also heard the expression 对不住 in TV series and movies. Is there any differences?
10
votes
8answers
25k views

Does 危机 really mean both crisis and opportunity?

A lot of people, mostly those who haven't studied Chinese, like to claim something along the lines of "In Chinese, the word for crisis 危机, also bears the meaning of opportunity." This is usually ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Is it 一些东西 or 一点东西?

I know that 东西 translates to "something" in English. So I would like to know, can both 一些东西 and 一点东西 be used? If so, what are their differences in meaning?
9
votes
3answers
634 views

How to translate “很不起眼儿” in English

What's the best (传神) translation of "很不起眼儿" in English? 例句: 不认识他的人觉得他很不起眼儿,认识他的人觉得他很优秀。 辨析: A more formal term that related to "很不起眼儿" is "其貌不扬", but "其貌不扬" will normally be "很不起眼儿", yet "很不起眼儿" ...
9
votes
5answers
347 views

What are some ways that I can be self-deprecating about my Chinese speaking ability?

I live in an area where there are many Chinese so I get plenty of opportunity to use my language skills including shopping, eating at restaurants and meeting new people. The Chinese people I meet are ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

爱老虎油 - is it slang?

Seen this phrase written by a Chinese person: 爱老虎油 [ài lǎo​hǔ yóu] What does it mean? Failed to find it in dictionaries. Is it some slang or 白话?
8
votes
6answers
968 views

犬子: who's the dog?

犬子 (literally, dog + son) is an archaic, self-depreciatory term to refer to your son (occasionally it's used to insult other people's sons). This answer raises a question though; who is the dog ...
8
votes
5answers
11k views

“不客气” (bù kèqì) vs “谢谢你” (xièxiè nǐ)

At home in Australia my neighbouring shop owners are from Shanghai and taught me some Chinese. From them I learned two ways of responding to "谢谢" (xièxiè): "不客气" (bù kèqì) "谢谢你" (xièxiè nǐ) So I ...
8
votes
2answers
394 views

Are there some greetings or phrases particular to the Hui people?

I'm in Yunnan and have noticed lots of Chinese muslims and ate at one of their restaurants today. I was aware of Turkic-speaking muslim ethnic minorities in the far west of China but now I know those ...
7
votes
5answers
338 views

What is the verbatim translation for “都什么时候了” ?

"什么时候" means verbatim "what time" But, when i add 都 (adverb meaning "all") and 了(particle indicating either change of state or completion), i can not grasp what meaning is conveyed by this phrase. ...
7
votes
4answers
396 views

For all I know

There is an expression in English: "For all I know, ...." The following clause often has a modal expressing uncertainty or the hypothetical nature of the assertion, like "might", "may", "could", ...
7
votes
2answers
237 views

The question is about 问讯

(I am learning Buddhism/dharma in Chinese.) 为什么合掌鞠躬叫"问讯"? 或是说: 为什么现在的"问讯"不是用讲的? "问"和"讯"都是动词吗?还是动词+名词?
6
votes
7answers
957 views

In this sentence “请问,哪里可以买到票?” is the character 到 necessary?

And can I just say: "哪里买票?"? This is what I used when I was in China and everyone seemed to easily understand. Is this shorter sentence incorrect or non-native sounding? How do native speakers ask ...
6
votes
2answers
262 views

Regional variations of “柴米油盐酱醋茶”

When I was very small, my grandparents mentioned there are regional variations of the phrase 柴米油盐酱醋茶 which is widely known to the local population (instead of made up by nobody and only used by a ...
5
votes
5answers
694 views

The meaning of 废柴码农

Someone called me a 废柴码农 after I made a silly mistake. I suppose it must be something negative but what does it actually means?
5
votes
3answers
492 views

Meaning of 所 in “有所…”

As far as I know, 所 has the following meanings: a place, as in 派出所 (police office). a counter, as in 一所科學中心 (a science center). a passive voice indicator that pairs up with 被(為), as in 被(為)愛所糾纏 (...
5
votes
1answer
710 views

Usage of the phrase '不错用' in Taiwan Mandarin

I heard my Taiwanese friends use the Mandarin phrase 不错用 more than once, but didn't have a chance to ask them: Is it widely used in Taiwan, or is it used by a certain circle/type of person? What's ...
5
votes
2answers
904 views

Explain the phrase “都不嫌多”

Could you please explain how to make sense of "都不嫌多". How is the meaning composed from the characters. I cannot make the connection between the literal translation of "all not suspicion many" and ...
5
votes
1answer
161 views

给我站住: Idiom or common meaning

给我站住 I assume this means something like "wait for me!". But I still have a couple of questions. Google translate gives the meaning "Nothing to say" which implies that 给我站住 may be an idiom. If 给我站住 ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

What does 算不上 mean in 算不上太美好的日子?

This is from the book 我是马拉拉 (the Chinese version of I am Malala). I transcribe it to: 2012年10月9日,星期二那天发生的事情,改变了一切。那天原本要大考,对学生们来说算不上太美好的日子。但和大多数同学不一样,我号称“小书虫”,感觉考试并不是什么大事。 I translate this to: ...
4
votes
4answers
252 views

The slang(?) phrase “乾掉了”

As I remember, the phrase was used in response to a certain scenario. Unfortunately, as I tried to look it up on Google, all I find is drying out, which is certainly not the meaning I am looking for. ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

What are the normal forms of valediction in Chinese?

For example, how do they normally sign off letters? We normally use 'Yours Faithfully' or 'Your Sincerely' but we might not be so formal in emails and instead just 'Regards'. What is standard ...
4
votes
2answers
157 views

What does “三魂去了两魂半” mean?

It's used to describe an expression so I guess it's close to being shocked or frightened from the context it's used in but I don't really understand why it means that. So a detailed explanation will ...
4
votes
1answer
168 views

What does “蕊屁” mean?

At https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyNNvgW1dSg&lc=z13jt1khfxr4zzw0k225sjfzzyn1hhebs04, someone wrote: 看完電影後整晚都在蕊屁OST Another person wrote in reply: +1 瘋狂蕊批 What does "蕊屁" mean?
4
votes
2answers
769 views

What is the Correct Sense of 隔空喊话 in English?

Baidu defines it literally as "not directly engaging with [someone/thing] when talking, rather talking with no person in mind." I'm curious whether it can be close to how we say in English, "[two ...
4
votes
1answer
111 views

荷兰猪、天竺鼠、豚鼠 ——What's the deal?

So these terms for Guinea Pig all seem to be fairly common and in use, at least as far as I know, but the question(s) are: where do the different terms come from? is there any actual difference ...
4
votes
3answers
203 views

Any Phrases About Trees Growing From Peoples Graves?

I'm looking for any phrases (成语/俗语/谚语, 等) that talk about the meaning of tress growing out of graves/tombs/resting places (of the dead). Apparently having a tree growing out of someones grave is ...
4
votes
2answers
117 views

Origin: of the phrase 不让[能]踩门槛

Looking for something authoritative. What is the origin of the 不让[能]踩门槛 phrase? Earliest usage?
3
votes
5answers
1k views

Is “我爱辣” (Wǒ ài là) a correct/understandable/idiomatic way of saying I like my food spicy?

When I'm buying food in China, especially in the street but sometimes also in restaurants, people often ask me if it want "là". I know that means "spicy" and I really enjoy spicy food. As there's not ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Is 你是哪个人 the correct way to ask where you are from in China?

I saw one of my friends used "你是哪个人" to ask where you are from in China. I thought it is the valid expression to date. However, I just used it to a Chinese people and she didn't understand it. So I ...
3
votes
4answers
843 views

Expressing “Fair enough”

The English expression "fair enough" can be used to concede a point in an argument, or acknowledge the other person's position, without expressing complete agreement. To take an example from ...
3
votes
2answers
686 views

Is the phrase “on a scale of 1 to 10” used often if at all?

Just wondering since it does seem to me like a more western phrase, in Google translate it comes out as 上规模的1到10, I'm just wondering if there is a more common way to ask someone to rate a particular ...
3
votes
3answers
304 views

Is “可以来 (ke3 yi3 lai2) …” an idomatic way to say “please bring me …”?

The vocabulary flashcard website "Memrise" has in one of its Chinese menu learning modules as entry: Word: 可以来... Definition: please bring... (food or dish) But one of the comments says: I ...
3
votes
3answers
237 views

What's the English expression that means 感叹词:“坏了”

In Chinese there is a 感叹词:"坏了", means something went unexpected wrong. Example: 坏了,下雨了 坏了,手机忘带了 坏了,迟到了 What are the common English expressions that can express that "astonishing strike"? ...
3
votes
2answers
66 views

how to translate this slogan '向前一小步,文明一大步' and the like in almost every public toilet in China

the other one is '靠近方便, 贴近文明', both of which have different versions of English translations, most of them, though, suck. they go like: One small step forward One giant leap toward civilization A ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

How to say “see you this weekend?”

My Mandarin teacher told us “星期四见” to say "see you on Thursday." How would I say "see you this weekend"? “这个周末见” or “末见这个周”? Or something else entirely? This is being used to end a letter, so I don't ...
3
votes
5answers
542 views

Explanation for the meaning of 八竿子打不着?

The modern colloquial phrase "八竿子打不着" is used as an adjective to describe "very distant, unrelated". Example: 这是八竿子打不着的事情,怎么能联系上呢? It literally means "couldn't hit with even eight poles". I can ...
3
votes
2answers
985 views

Chinese Metaphor 八字沒見一撇

Simple Words I recently came across this phrase: 八字沒見一撇 I understand each character but the meaning was still lost on me. So I asked someone about this and they informed me that it is somewhat ...
3
votes
1answer
255 views

大风绝尘而去 in idiomatic English

"大风绝尘而去" In a weather report document, such as http://news.163.com/14/0528/18/9TBR0KOI00014Q4P.html, does this phrase mean that the gale is going to 'stay away and leave' ? or 'A large storm will ...
3
votes
3answers
124 views

What is the meaning of the phrase 俫气更有仙气?

I recently read the following comment about a Chinese actress: 除了有林青霞的俫气更有仙气 From the whole sentence, I can guess that it's sort of compliment (the actress has charisma like Brigitte Lin). But I don'...
3
votes
3answers
332 views

洗尘: why is a welcome banquet “washing dust”?

洗尘 refers to the traditional Chinese custom of holding a banquet to welcome visitors from afar. However, the literal translation is "to wash dust", which has nothing to do with eating, and I'm also ...
3
votes
2answers
275 views

Phrases with most popular characters?

I found a table of characters (about 3000) in which most popular characters go first. Here are first 20: 我的 高的 是的 目的 的确 不 不是 人 在 有 他 这 中 大 来 上 国 自个 到 说 道 子 为 和 and I would like to ...
3
votes
2answers
238 views

How to translate “路人缘” or “观众缘” in English

In this context, 缘 = potential relationships, connection 路人 = average Joe, random person, total stranger 观众 = audience, viewer 路人缘 (路人緣)and 观众缘 (觀眾緣) pretty much means the same thing. They are used ...
3
votes
1answer
439 views

What is an idiom that describes aiming for high achievement or success but not forgetting one's roots?

What is an idiom/phrase/saying that describes aiming for high achievement or success but not forgetting one's roots? Something like 展翅高飞 and 饮水思源 combined
3
votes
2answers
237 views

How many different types of adverbials exist in total?

At first I learned: The most frequent sentence pattern in Chinese is S V O e.g. 你 打 我 Next I learned: There are fixed places within this pattern, where one can put adverbials,namely ...
3
votes
2answers
9k views

How to say “That looks delicious”

In company, or at someone's house, how might I say "That dish looks delicious?" or "That looks good"? My inclination is to say 那看起来好吃, or maybe 那看地好吃, but both seem like too much of a direct ...
3
votes
2answers
429 views

What response is expected to Chinese people's “Have you eaten?”?

"Have you eaten?" (你吃了/吃了吗/吃饭没有 etc) sounds like a Chinese equivalent of "how are you?". However, I don't know what is the correct way to respond to the question. What do Chinese people expect me to ...
2
votes
2answers
429 views

Are “好饱了” and “好包了” both correct?

"好饱了" and "好包了" both seem to be used to mean "I'm full". I'm pretty sure that "好饱了" is definitely correct but they both get lots of Google hits and if I combine the search with the English "full" ...
2
votes
4answers
676 views

What is the meaning of “拜了个拜”?

I heard this phrase from some Chinese-speaking stranger. I assume it's related to farewell since the stranger was waving hand to someone else, but what does it mean exactly? Is there a certain context ...