Questions tagged [usage]

Questions that concern the use of expressions, parts of speech, words, verbs, etc.

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How do you ask “Who is your dad” in Chinese? [duplicate]

I am learning Chinese on Duolingo and recently saw a translation of "Who is your dad?" as 谁是你的爸爸. When I used Google translate I got a similar answer. I have learnt (in the basics) that we put the ...
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30 views

Which movies or dramas have good/abundant examples of professional/business and email language (Mainland Mandarin Chinese)?

As the title says really. Currently I use the Pleco app to look up examples of sentences of certain words. However, this is way off from what I need. These days it's very useful to know how the ...
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Is there a free corpus (sentence examples) of Business Chinese emails?

I've come across this website which seems to offer what I'm looking for but is not free and pretty pricy: https://catalog.elra.info/en-us/repository/browse/ELRA-W0113/ I've looked at this website but ...
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68 views

Can anyone explain what this symbol means? [duplicate]

Please translate this Chinese character symbol found on Chinese food bowl.
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6answers
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Is「天佑美國」the correct translation for “God Bless America”?

Look at this mural from Chinatown, San Francisco: Attribution: American flag in Chinatown San Francisco by Pedro Lozano. License: CC BY 2.0 It says「天佑美國」, but is that correct? Shouldn't it be「天祐美國」...
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Which of 法国, 法兰西, and 法兰斯 is the most common word for France?

I saw these 3 and now I'm confused. Which one is more common? Where are and what for are they used? 法国 法兰西 法兰斯
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What's the meaning of this sentences with 丛, 纷纷扬扬 and 飘来飘去?

I'd like to understand this sentence well: 这天,农夫又来到田边巡视庄稼, 发现芦苇丛中的芦花纷纷扬扬,在空中飘来飘去. 这天,农夫又来到田边巡视庄稼 - I understand this part, no need to explain. 芦花 - it is probably reed's flower? 芦苇丛中 - what's the ...
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Is a reduplicated verb necessary after “ba3”?

In my textbook there's an exercise in which I must decide if a sentence is correct. There's this: 请把这些汉字练. In the answers they say it's incorrect because "lian4" should be reduplicated. Is it really a ...
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Why is 跟 in 陈叶可以直接拿跟胡灵阳的钥匙?

I wrote this: ...陈叶可以直接借她的钥匙。 I intend for it to mean "Chen Ye can directly borrow her [Hu Lingyang's] keys", as in, he doesn't need to ask---the keys were on the table, and he just took them and ...
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Why is 在 in 就这样在孔琳犹豫不决地跟着朋友进了酒吧?

I'm revising my notes, and a while ago I wrote: 这样孔琳犹豫地跟着朋友进去。 It means something like "In this way, Kong Lin reluctantly followed her friends in", and in the context of the story she entered a ...
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How did three characters for _de_ emerge?

I understand that there are three characters for de depending on the usage: 跑得快 快地跑 快的车 Would anyone know how it evolved into different characters when the purpose and pronunciation are similar?
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When using 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) as “feel free to” in e.g. 你想看电影就尽管看吧, do we need the 你, 就, and/or 吧?

When using 尽管 as "feel free to", do I always need to use it with 你? Can I omit 就? Can I omit 吧? For example 你想看电影就尽管看吧。
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Do people make puns out of the Earthly Branches in Chinese culture?

For example, the earthly branches represent divisions of time and also directions. Are these multiple meanings used in puns? The individual branches can also have separate meanings from the branch ...
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How do you say 黑箱作业 in English?

It is literally translated as ”black-box operation(s)”. It refers to actions within an organization which are not transparent to the general public or the “masses” within the organization, which ...
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Could you give me some examples of work slangs? [closed]

I'd like to know some idioms that are used at work by workmates or bosses.
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395 views

Is my translation of “I think Disney has a big influence on people's expectations of love” accurate?

新年快乐,大家! I'm a long-time user of Stack Overflow for coding problems, but a noob on Chinese SE. I was trying to say recently "I think Disney has a big influence on people's expectations of love". ...
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What does “射個三分波” mean?

I was watching a video from Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper, and they mentioned the phrase in question as such: “港鐵就射個三分波 叫我們問政府”. My guess is that 三分波 refers to an action in some sport, possibly ...
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Does 令人惊讶 require that someone actually be surprised?

令人惊讶 is a curious and fairly common phrase, e.g.: 关于人体令人惊讶的事实 (source) About [关于] human body [人体] surprising [令人惊讶] facts [事实] I'm wondering if using 令人惊讶 requires that people have actually been ...
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Using 到底, how could we naturally complete the sentence 虽然这是两棵不同的植物,…?

标准教程HSK4下 (p.79) has a "complete the sentence" exercise: 虽然这是两棵不同的植物,...。(到底) Although these are two different plants, ... Basically, the task is to complete the sentence using 到底 in a natural ...
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Is 当做 and 看做 a synonym or not a synonym?

Is 当做 and 看做 a synonym? I looked at a few sample sentences on bkrs dictionary. They seem to be used in similar situations. But just to be sure, what do you guys think? Do they have any difference in ...
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Seen multiple uses of 想

I've seen 想 mean 'thought' as well and wanted to know whether they're used interchangeably or not. 我没想过这个问题。I've never thought about this question before. And 想 is also used like this: 你想不想我?...
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Places where the use of 小姐 is inappropriate

Wikitionary has a cool feature that shows a dialectal map with word differences across all Chinese dialects, as in this example. The problem is that I was trying to see which places it was OK to use ...
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How Common is 啊

I have a tendency to stick in 啊 whenever I want the sentence to sound strong (in any emotion whether it be happiness, annoyance, etc) which I'm aware is it's purpose. But exactly how common is it? I'...
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Can 适合 (“to suit”) be used as an intransitive verb?

There's Difference between 合适 and 适合, which explains how 合适 is an adjective: 不合适的性行为有什么害处 (source) Unsuitable sexual behavior has what harm 找个合适的结婚对象,真的好难 (source) searching [for] a ...
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Does expression ”宁愿…也不…“ belong only to book style or I can use it in simple conversation?

I just met in book such sort of expressions with ”宁愿...也不...“. I understand it like "rather...than...", but my question is: is it only book style or spoken as well, can I use such form in simple ...
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108 views

Etymology behind the phrase 恭喜发财 (Kung Hei Fat Choy) and its usage during Chinese New Year?

Where did the phrase 恭喜发财 (Kung Hei Fat Choy) come from? And why is it so popularly used during Chinese New Year? I knew it was first popularised in Canton areas probably around 18~19th century. ...
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How bad does a sentence with an inicial 了 sound here?

There's a rule in Chinese that says that when you have two or more verbs in a sentence, you should put 了 in the last one. As in: 他们请经理吃了饭。 How bad would it sound if you put 了 before 请? 他们请了经理吃饭。...
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What is 装 and 连 doing in this paragraph about a newt in a glass from Matilda? E.g. 她再看那装着蝾螈的玻璃杯

This is from the Chinese version of Matilda (p.182): 那蝾螈仍旧在那个高玻璃杯装的水里扭来扭去,看起来让人极不舒服。杯子对它来说太小了。玛帝尔达看着特朗奇布尔,她多么恨她呀。她再看那装着蝾螈的玻璃杯,恨不得跑过去把它拿起来连蝾螈带水泼在特朗奇布尔的头上。她想到她真这样做了的话特朗奇布尔会怎样对待她,不禁发起抖来。 The original ...
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50 views

When to use the single character vs double character form of a verb?

I know of many verbs that can be expressed as a single character or two characters (i.e. 说 & 说话). The issue is that I don't know when it is appropriate to use one of over the other. Is it ...
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4answers
103 views

What is the difference between 能 vs. 会? [duplicate]

What is the difference between 能 and 会? Don’t they both mean “could”? What is the difference between them?
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How to express “the” in Chinese

I'm trying to convey the sentence "我不会好好发音四个声调" But that more directly translates as "I cannot pronounce four tones well" which is a bit ambiguous... that begs the question, which four tones? I'm sure ...
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1answer
45 views

Where to place 了 when using an auxiliary verb?

In general when using auxiliary verbs, where the auxiliary verb is in the past tense while the main verb isn't. An example: Because I like to read Chinese books, I began teaching myself Mandarin. ...
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197 views

Difference between 说话 and 话说?

I previously already understood "说话" to mean "to speak" or something to that effect, but just recently I saw the term "话说" and was curious if it carried the same meaning (which is often the case I've ...
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181 views

How does 上 work as a verb?

From 标准教程HSK4上 page 111: The verb "上" means "to achieve or reach (a certain quantity or degree)", often followed by an object indicating quality. I feel a lot of discomfort with using this 上. (I'...
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60 views

What are the criteria used on dictionaries to decide word classes?

Mandarin is a complete MESS regarding word classes. I can't think of an example right now, but I'm completely sure there are some words that reach the point of being a noun, adjective, verb and adverb ...
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99 views

Why does 兴奋 (excitement) not mean what I think it means?

I wrote this: 我觉得小夏后悔过去的比赛,小夏回忆没进球也也许让一个好机会错过。所以小夏在房间里老坐着。马克想帮助小夏带他去足球比赛再体验足球的兴奋,让小夏高兴点儿。 My teacher made the following corrections (my question relates to the 5-th item below): she deleted the ...
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Why is there the first 看 in 她看都没看过我一眼?

From 标准教程HSK4上 (page 93): 她看都没看过我一眼,怎么样才能使她喜欢我呢? Google Translate is not great here, but it gives some idea of how it works. I think it translates to something like: She has never even ...
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What measure word should I use when I have two nouns with different measure words?

If someone asks me: 你在动物园看了几(___)老虎和马呀? Choose the correct answer: a) 个 b) 只 c) 匹 d) other ______ e) all of the above f) none of the above g) screw Chinese, I'm going to study Klingon Thanx!
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94 views

How do you cut different things in Chinese?

割 ge1, 剪 jian3 切 qie4, 刮 gua1, 砍 kan3, 斩 zhan3 Could you list the major things you can cut using these? And linguistic traps I shouldn't fall for (e.g. you cut fingernails with one but toenails with ...
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61 views

Is it essential to highlight the use of a metaphor with 像…那样 or something to this effect?

In the 标准教程HSK4上 book, chapter 6, 课文1, I felt 张远 was being annoying by asking a lot of questions about why 李进 didn't answer his phone. So I wrote: 如果别人不想接电话,不用审问TA。 My teacher was surprised by my ...
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What's wrong with 空调制冷得不太好 meaning “The air conditioner cools poorly”?

I thought 空调制冷得不太好 would be perfectly fine, using the grammar structure Subj. + Verb + 得 + Complement Chinese Grammar Wiki But there's no hits on Baidu for "制冷得不太好" which is a strong ...
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63 views

Why is 保证 in 价格还可以,就是不知道质量有没有保证?

Among the (artificial) dialogues in the HSK4上 book (page 53) is: 价格还可以,就是不知道质量有没有保证。 I translate this to The price is okay, it's just that I don't know if the quality is guaranteed. I don't ...
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67 views

Why is there both 另外 and 别 in the sentence 你还是另外找别人吧, and why does 另外 come before 找?

The following example sentence is from the book 标准教程 HSK 4上 (p.32): 最近小雨太忙了,没时间帮你,你还是[另外/另]找别人吧。 It means something to the effect of Recently Little Yu is too busy and has no time to help you, you ...
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60 views

How can I use the idiom 米已成炊 to explain “once I've told you, I can't un-tell you”?

I wrote the following: 我愿意告诉你我的故事,可是后来就跟米已成炊一样。 Basically, it was intended as a warning: I'm willing to tell you my story, but afterwards I can't un-tell you. My Chinese teacher indicated she ...
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80 views

What kinds of things can be described as 丰富多彩 (richly colorful), and how do I describe them?

A while back, my teacher asked me to use 丰富多彩 ("richly colorful") in a sentence, but it wasn't received particularly well. The relevant part in my writing was ...丰富多彩地环境 and she said 各种颜色 was ...
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77 views

At what age is it inappropriate to call people 小李, 小王, 小刘, etc.? And is it different for males and females?

It's common for children to be referred to as 小李, 小王, 小刘, etc. in Chinese (basically 小[姓], where [姓] is the family name). I expect there is a certain age where it's no longer appropriate to call ...
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83 views

Does 差不多 (chàbùduō) imply “slightly less than” when comparing quantities?

差 implies a kind of deficiency, so I expect A比B差不多 to mean A is slightly "worse" than B in some way. For example, I would expect 我比你差不多高 to imply I am slightly shorter than you. I'm not sure ...
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72 views

Is it okay to say 我下一下 when e.g. getting off a bus?

Once I saw a woman get off a bus and I thought she said 我下一下 to inform the driver that she was getting off. However, I mentioned that to a Chinese friend, and he seemed to think it's weird, so it's ...
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221 views

到 vs 至, what is the key difference?

As if them sharing a common appearance isn't enough, yabla shows that they can for the most part be used interchangeably. Since they mean nearly the same exact thing with a few caveats, what is the ...
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81 views

What part of speech is 到 (to) when used in this case?

I was having trouble with the sentence "两只饿到眼绿的老鼠正在房梁上打架" because I could not understand the usage of 到 here. After I spent some time thinking I figure the meaning is that the rats were hungry to the ...

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