Questions tagged [vocabulary]

It's the set of words used by a language, but also all of the words within a language known by a single person.

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29
votes
9answers
11k 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 ...
26
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4answers
4k 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?
23
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6answers
2k 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 ...
19
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2answers
1k views

How do new Chinese characters get added to the language?

For example there are characters such as 熵 which as far as I know only means one thing - in this case entropy - and which have to have been deliberately added by some person or organization. An ...
19
votes
5answers
3k views

Why is hot water called 开水?

Why is hot water sometimes called 开水? What is the meaning of "open" in this context? How is this different than saying 热水 or 烧水? Is it something to do with how the water was made hot, kind of like ...
17
votes
12answers
4k 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 ...
17
votes
7answers
4k views

What's the difference between 星期X and 周X?

When accepting an answer, I noticed that the example used the word 周三 for Wednesday, but in my grammar, the days of the week are 星期一, 星期二, etc... They seem both correct but, what's the difference? ...
15
votes
3answers
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 ...
14
votes
9answers
59k views

Special meanings applied to numbers 0 - 10

From what I understand: 4 or 四 means death 8 is similar to 发 as in 发财 9 is somehow related to the emporer or is the emporer's number Can someone please provide the meanings (if they exist) for each ...
13
votes
4answers
624 views

What's the difference between 帐户 and 账户?

To my understanding, both mean "account", as in a bank account or online account. 账户 also appears to be the more common (100M search results) compared to 帐户 (about 50M results). What is the difference,...
12
votes
1answer
5k views

Different names for each of the fingers

In English we have different names for each of the fingers: Thumb, index, middle, ring and pinky fingers. Are there special names for each of these in Chinese and if necessary what are the ...
12
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
961 views

What is the equivalent of the English word 'Fail' in Mandarin?

Fail is a pretty popular term on the internet these days, and one I'm quite fond of. Looking in my Chinese dictionary I can't find a great equivalent - is there a good way to say this? What would be ...
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
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8answers
2k 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
9k 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... ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How is adding oil going to beneficial to the situation? 加油

Is anyone able to explain the history behind this cheer? At the face of it I'm unsure how this could be a cheer as 加 translate to add/plus/apply and 油 translates to oil/fat/grease you would think ...
10
votes
7answers
17k views

”委屈“ in English?

In Chinese, ”委屈“ has the meaning of being treated unfairly and consequently felt bad but didn't dare to complain. "be upset" doesn't necessarily imply being treated unfairly. "be wronged" doesn't ...
10
votes
6answers
4k views

Should the term 廁所 (bathroom) be used for both a home and public toilet?

I found this word, 廁所 (Cèsuǒ). Does it mean a toilet outside house like a toilet in the mall? However, for a bathroom in a house which has only a toilet and a shower and there is no bathtub. How can ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between 有名,著名 and 闻名?

We know 名 means name or famous, but what is the subtle difference between 有名,著名 and 闻名?
10
votes
3answers
429 views

Which marital verbs are used for same-sex marriages?

In male-female marriage we use the two verbs; 嫁給 (jiàgěi) 娶 (qǔ) But these are gender specific. a woman can 嫁給 a man a man will 娶 a woman So how does this work in same-sex marriages?
8
votes
8answers
4k views

Never mind in Chinese

I ask someone a question, but then realize I already know the answer. In English, I'd say: "Oh wait, never mind." What's 口语 for "never mind" in this context?
8
votes
6answers
838 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
186 views

What is the meaning of the 打 in 打坐?

How did the two-part compound 打坐 come to mean seated meditation? What is the function of the 打 in that compound?
8
votes
6answers
749 views

Difference between 肯定 and 确定

Does anyone know the difference (if there is a difference) between 肯定 and 确定? I seem to have trouble in knowing when to use each of them in certain contexts.
8
votes
6answers
540 views

Differences between the two words for each season, such as 冬季 (dōngjì) and 冬天 (dōngtiān)

There seem to be two words for each season. Each pair has the first character in common but for the second character one will have 季 (jì) and the other will have 冬天 (tiān). For example "winter" is: ...
8
votes
5answers
7k views

Why is 喂 used over 你好 when answering the phone?

The use of 拜拜 over 再见 at the end of a phone conversation is obvious as you haven't seen them so how could you see them again but I don't understand why 喂 is used as a greeting when answering the phone....
8
votes
3answers
412 views

What's the difference between “大衣” (dàyī), “外套” (wàitào), and “外衣” (wàiyī) - which can all be translated to “coat”?

As I need to buy some cold weather clothes now that I'm heading further north than Xi'an I tried to look up the word for "coat". I found there are at least these three terms: 大衣 (dàyī) 外套 (wàitào) ...
8
votes
1answer
308 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
3answers
735 views

For video games terminology, what is the proper translation for “range”

I'm playing around with my mother tongue so I tried to translate sentences that I might write into Chinese. One of them was this sentence, in English. "The great strength of Annie comes from the long ...
8
votes
2answers
216 views

漏拆 - Meaning & usage?

I tried several sources & can't find a translation that seems correct. An example sentence & my attempt at translation: 嘴里漏拆了一根线怎么办? mouth inside left behind remove a strip of thread what ...
8
votes
3answers
447 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
404 views

Are there Chinese approximations for the colloquial/slang English terms “snot rocket” or “bushman's blow”?

In English I know of two colourful terms for blowing your nose without use of a handkerchief or tissue by holding one nostril closed and expelling mucus from the other: bushman's blow [1][2] snot ...
7
votes
7answers
3k views

Correct/Polite way of asking “Can we speak in chinese?”

I would like to preface this by saying I'm Australian and speak with an Australian accent when I'm speaking English which can be hard to digest for a lot of people new to Australia. A lot of 1st gen ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Proper letter writing etiquette

I've recently been writing a lot of letters in Mandarin and I have several questions regarding the form. Chinese has many salutations in letters. For the most part, is it okay just to use 亲爱? If not, ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a noun that has the meaning of “offer” in Chinese? How to say “offer” in Chinese?

Such as "offer" in 我有了CUHK的入学许可 = "I got an offer from CUHK." 还没有一个地方要我 = "I still don't have any offers." I think there is no such noun in Chinese. Is there?
7
votes
2answers
928 views

What's the difference between 房子 and 屋?

It seems like "house" is usually translated as 房子 (fáng zi) in standard Chinese, although 屋 (wū) is also a common translation, especially in Cantonese. Is there a difference between the two? When ...
7
votes
5answers
2k views

How do I say that a program (coding) “Works!”

I'm trying to say a program (as in something a programmer/程序员) finally works! Is there a way to translate this "works" into chinese? Could I say 我的代码终于可以了!? Or is there a way that is more clear ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Site for reading the same news article in English and Chinese (简体中文)

Previously I used to regularly go to a news site that had articles in English that allowed you to immediately switch to Chinese for the same article. It also had good information on the Chinese side ...
7
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the difference between 变成、变化、变得、改变、转变?

There are five 变 here, so what is the difference between 变成、变化、变得、改变、转变?
7
votes
5answers
539 views

A 理解 and 了解 comparison

I know the question regarding the difference has been asked but the answers didn't really help me in the other post. I'm trying to recall what my Chinese teacher once taught me. 理解 is when you can ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

How to express a date in Chinese (lunar) calendar?

Many traditional festivals are observed on a given date on the Chinese (lunar) calendar(Actually, the Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar). For example, the Spring Festival falls on the first day ...
7
votes
1answer
240 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'...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

What's the difference between “现在几点?“ and ”现在几点了?”

In the textbook, I saw both "现在几点?" and "现在几点了?" I know they are both correct and "了" often indicates past tense, but what's the difference here? I think it would be really good if I can look up ...
6
votes
7answers
14k 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
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?
6
votes
3answers
642 views

When to use 世界 and when to use 国际

These two terms are broadly speaking translations of "world" (世界), and "international" (国际). Recently, I've been reminded that "international" in English can be used to mean "many nations" rather than ...
6
votes
7answers
3k views

Accidentally Saying Chinese Swear Words

So I saw a video on youtube about a guys experience in china. He said that people can often accidentally say swear words if they say the tones wrong. Like the word "ma" It can heard as mother but 'ma'...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Does there exists an English word for 汉化 ?

汉化 means becoming more assimilated to Han culture. (like Anglicise means being more assimilated to English culture) Historically, this has happened many times, e.g. during Khitan Empire, Jurchen ...
6
votes
8answers
1k views

Ways to politely insult somebody's intelligence in Mandarin?

I know of many words to insult people and call them stupid, but a majority of them are incredibly offensive. There are more polite phrases, such as 真笨, which I've seen used within families (as a plain ...