Questions tagged [vocabulary]

For questions about vocabulary, i.e. a set of words, as a whole. NOT for questions about meaning or translations, even when more than one word or phrase is involved.

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10
votes
3answers
430 views

words where it is important to distinguish between the neutral tone and the citation tone

I'm working through the HSK vocab lists, and sometimes I find it hard to remember if a character should be pronounced with the neutral tone or with the citation tone. It would help if I knew when it'...
31
votes
13answers
14k views

What is a good technique for remembering tones?

I find it a great struggle to try and remember tones for all the new vocab I learn, and aside from gradually picking up tones by listening and talking with native speakers, I can't really remember ...
15
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4answers
1k views

Difference between 想 and 要?

I know both of them mean "want to" but have usage in different contexts. When should I use each one? For example: 我要去上海市 and 我想去上海市 What's the difference in the meaning between them? Also, I've ...
9
votes
10answers
19k views

How to translate "暧昧" into English?

Many dictionaries translate it to "ambiguity",but it looks so indefinitely. I'm looking for more expressive answer.
6
votes
1answer
376 views

What difference(s) does it make to use the citation tone instead of the neutral tone, for the tail character in these words?

Here’s my list: 队伍, 成分, 身分, 才力, 呼噜, 亮堂, 好处, 种子, 妥当, 爽快, 痛快, 记性, 出息, 佩服, 分析, 哈欠, 寒毛, 活泼, 鼻涕, 道理, 滑稽, 考究, 讲究, 打算, 正经, 裁缝, 得罪, 意识 (and also意识 形态), 熟识, 见识, 体谅, 兴趣, [东/西/南/前/后/那/上/下/头/里/外/左/右]边, 知道, 父亲 and ...
13
votes
6answers
6k 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?
4
votes
3answers
335 views

The word order of co-existing adverbs in a sentence

I am wondering whether there is a commonly accepted rule about the word order of co-existing adverbs in a sentence. For example, in the following sentences, 果然,昨天,直接,从学校 are adverbs. Which of the ...
12
votes
6answers
13k views

Chinese computer vocabulary, and most frequently encountered common computer terms

What are the most frequent words I'm likely to encounter when using a computer in Chinese. Stuff like file menu, cut, copy, paste, edit, properties, ok, cancel, back, refresh, save, print etc... ...
5
votes
3answers
589 views

What are the most common Mandarin words for each pinyin syllable?

I've been practicing my pronunciation by reciting the different pinyin syllables described in my book. My book lists some examples of common words for some syllables. I was wondering where I could ...
13
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5answers
5k views

Difference between 特色, 特點, 特性, 特質, and 特徵

Looking up these five words in dictionaries gives results that are almost identical. In Chinese-English dictionaries, I find explanations identical or very close to: a characteristic; a ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the meaning of 相声?

Today I read a blog post talking about a Canadian guy called Mark Rowswell (aka 大山) that appears on Chinese TV shows and who is able to do 相声. This 相声 is referred to as "the art of language". What ...
3
votes
2answers
425 views

Why are there duplicates in the following words 游游泳, 化化妆, 散散步, ..., etc?

I am looking through my text book and I came across some words like: 游游泳, 化化妆, 散散步. What is the difference between those and their regular counterparts 游泳, 化妆, 散步?
1
vote
2answers
84 views

What does 来 mean in 他想一切办法来验证这个理论 and 我们设了个陷阱来抓狐狸?

I have come across two sentences independently which seem to use 来 in a similar fashion, but one I am not sure I can identify: 他想一切办法来验证这个理论 我们设了个陷阱来抓狐狸 Is this somewhat similar to 起来, as in ...
1
vote
1answer
139 views

How well-known is the expression 杯弓蛇影?

I like this 成语 and brought it up in a conversation, but the person I was speaking with (an expat Chinese) didn't know it. So I would like to know how well-known it is. Would a 10 year old in Beijing ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

Difference between 製作 and 製造?

Both 製作 and 製造 mean "to make" according to this dictionary: http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/2913/ http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/6021/ It seems like 製造 might ...
23
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6answers
3k views

Character and word frequencies

I'm trying to build some automated tools for processing Chinese text. I'd like to know the relative frequencies of different characters and character combinations. Are there any web sites with this ...
26
votes
4answers
8k views

但是, 可是 and 不过 - how to know which one to use?

According to my dictionary, 但是, 可是 and 不过 all mean "but/however"? However are there any differences between them? Are there some cases, where one can be used but not another?
18
votes
13answers
6k views

Are there word games in Chinese?

Do Chinese characters make it a lot harder to create or play word games in Chinese than it is in English? I have seen a few Chinese crosswords, but it seems like they aren't as densely cross-linked as ...
11
votes
8answers
3k views

Neutral Terms for "White People"

This is always a difficult topic because racial and ethnic identities are so complex, sensitive, and dynamic: what are the best (as in the most precise and neutral) terms for "White" people? I've ...
12
votes
2answers
748 views

Why do HSK lists differ from character frequency lists?

I have been wondering how come the HSK list be so different from the list of the most used Chinese characters. The only list I know about character frequency is Jun Da's list. On the first 2635 most ...
9
votes
1answer
511 views

Politeness in referring to a recent death

Some people in the US normally avoid saying a person has "died." They say the person "passed on," or "has left us." Are there similar, gentle ways in Chinese to avoid saying a person died? Would it ...
8
votes
5answers
803 views

Do all one-syllable words need to be followed by a 子 to make it colloquial?

Do all one-syllable words need to be followed by a 子 to make it colloquial? For example, 椅 becomes 椅子, 锤 becomes 锤子, 尺 becomes 尺子 and etc. I thought about this because I came across a picture ...
5
votes
5answers
12k views

茶 - How to identify varieties of tea?

I'm looking for vocabulary to help puzzle-out the kind of tea contained in various packages from the Chinese characters on their labels. So far I recognize 茶(tea) and 叶(leaves). (Apparently these ...
2
votes
1answer
173 views

How to deal with elasticity/flexibility in HSK vocabulary? [closed]

I'll be concise for those knowledgeable, and refer to brief and basic bibliography for those who are not. The Chinese elasticity/flexibility is a lexical property of Chinese terms, two sides of the ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

What are the differences between 报名,登记,挂号?

It looks like they all mean "register". Are there any differences between these three words?
3
votes
4answers
1k views

What percentage of Chinese words are 1-character ? ... 2-character?

Within an average Chinese person's vocabulary ... (which may be ~ 30,000 (?) words, but this number isn't important) could you guess what percentage of the words are 1-character, and what ...
2
votes
2answers
221 views

List of historical Chinese currency terms

Does anyone know where I can find a list of terms used for units of currency throughout the history of China? I am especially interested in finding those terms that can function as 量词, like 文 and 贯. ...
1
vote
3answers
890 views

"Immediately" 立即, 即時, 立刻, 馬上 etc

I'm trying to find a suitable translation for the word immediately. The dictionary has all of these words (I limited it to 4 in the title but there are over 10 results from what I can see). Could ...
8
votes
3answers
592 views

How is 青 and 苍 used in classical Chinese to denote colors?

Here is what the dictionary says about 青:  1. 深绿色或浅蓝色:~草。~苔。 Dark Blue or light green.  2. 靛蓝色:靛~。~紫。 Indigo blue.  3. 黑色:~布。~衣。 Black. Similar case is 苍:  1. 深青色,深绿色:~翠。~天。 Dark blue or green.  2. ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the most common word in use to describe 'DVD' and what is its measure word

I've heard the Chinese are fine to use the English word DVD, rather than the chinese word. What is more common, and what measure word do they use with it?
5
votes
4answers
5k views

How do I say "a loaf of bread"?

According to Google translate it is 一个面包, but that doesn't sound right. How do I say "A loaf of bread"? UPDATE: This is what I mean by a "loaf" of bread. Not just a bun.
4
votes
3answers
893 views

Where can I find a full list of combinations of sounds and tones used in Chinese?

I heard that there are roughly 400 sounds in Mandarin plus four tones. Are all combinations of those used in Chinese vocabulary, making it 1600 possibilities per single-sound word? If not, how many ...
4
votes
2answers
373 views

Did the name "白俄罗斯" exist in Chinese before 1991?

Did the name "白俄罗斯" for Belarus exist in Chinese language before 1991 or was it created only when Belarus became an independent state in 1991?
4
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the polite way to say a grandparent has passed away?

I've been trying to find out what is the polite way of telling someone that someone, specifically a relative, has passed away? I'm pretty sure it's not very nice to say someone died (死)。 Google ...
4
votes
5answers
955 views

In Chinese, how can I describe someone as being cynical?

cynical as in "believing the worst of human nature and motives; having a sneering disbelief in e.g. selflessness of others."
3
votes
2answers
226 views

How come the first tone in the character of 边 in the word 东边 is not written?

I am reading my textbook and I notice that the the pinyin next to 东边 is written as dōng​bian Why is the first tone not present on the bian? The weird thing is that in my other textbook the pinyin ...
3
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the difference between 听到、听过 and 听说?

There are 3 听 (hear or listen to). What is the difference between 听到, 听过, and 听说?
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of 看在 and 分上?

看在孩子的分上,夫妇二人没有离婚。 In the phrase above, what do they mean? Neither is found in a dictionary. The sentence is said to translate to "The pair would not divorce because of the children".
2
votes
1answer
127 views

Is 未長未短 grammatically correct (in classical Chinese)?

Is 未長未短 grammatically correct (in classical Chinese)? The article http://www.hainan-today.com/2012/201201/web/201201_28.htm uses “未長未短”: 但与大门前的“翻天覆地”相比,作为景区主体之一的“雨林谷”变化却“含蓄”许多,景观还是两年前的样子,没多没少,...
1
vote
1answer
80 views

Words related to several 成语 (via 《AB》 → 《-A-B》)

The word 颜色 (yánsè / colour; facial expression/looks) is clearly related to several chengyu: 五颜六色 容颜失色 正颜厉色 和颜悦色 怡颜悦色 喜颜悦色 I suspect that many two-character words AB are similar to 颜色, in that ...
1
vote
2answers
426 views

Does xiang (third tone) mean "want" or "echo"?

I am reading this set of poems for my humanities class. One of the lines is: Supposedly, the last character is xiang with a third tone and it means to "sound" or "echo". But I thought this character ...
0
votes
4answers
88 views

What's the usage/meaning of 就 in this case?

I've asked a question regarding 就 before here and the answer helped a lot. But I'm a bit confused regarding another example sentence that I came across. The sentence is: 大的行李托运了,这个小的行李就随身带着。 The ...