Questions tagged [word-choice]

Questions about what word fits better in a certain context or situation.

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23
votes
8answers
8k views

What's the difference between 学 and 学习?

I know both mean "to study" and I also know that while 学 (xué) is transitive, 学习 (xué xí) can be both intransitive and transitive, for example: 我学中文。 (I study «what?» Chinese) = transitive; 我在大学学习。 (...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the nuance of 很好?

Beginning textbooks say 很好 means "very good," but soon add that 很 is usually just there to balance the phrase and does not really mean "very" in this context. S.Rhee's comment cites a much fuller ...
15
votes
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 ...
12
votes
4answers
7k views

Differences: 干,办,做,搞,弄

What's the difference between all these five words? They mean all "to do", they're driving me crazy! I write some example sentences with some of them (hoping that's the right one), just to understand ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the difference between 必须, 得, 必需, and 需要?

I know that all of them mean "to have to" in some form or another, but are they interchangeable?
3
votes
2answers
2k views

的确, 确实, 实在, and 真正: what's the difference?

(Related a bit to Difference between 实际, 现实, 确实, and 实在 I guess. Good to link to it for posterity.) 的确, 确实, 实在, 真正 My dictionaries all say that all four can be adverbs with a meaning of "really." ...
16
votes
3answers
9k views

Difference between 与,和 and 跟?

Do the following three sentences mean the same thing, that is, can they be used interchangeably? 她的父母就来我们家与我的家人见面了。 她的父母就来我们家和我的家人见面了。 她的父母就来我们家跟我的家人见面了。
19
votes
5answers
5k views

How widespread is the use of 妳?

When addressing a female, do I have to use 妳 instead of 你? How common is the usage of 妳?
11
votes
6answers
7k views

What is the difference between 餐馆 and 饭店? Is 饭店 used for restaurant or hotel?

饭店 and 餐馆 can both mean restaurant. My Chinese friend here in Dongguan tells me 饭店 is not commonly used to mean hotel. I want to understand in what contexts both of these words are used. 谢谢.
2
votes
2answers
172 views

What's the difference between 扣好安全带 (kòuhǎo ānquándài) and 系好安全带 (jìhǎo ānquándài), which both seem to mean “fasten seatbelt”?

On the plane I see 就座后扣好安全带 (jiù zuòhòu kòuhǎo ānquándài) which is translated to "fasten seatbelt while seated". On the bus I see 上车请系好安全带 (shàngchē qǐng jìhǎo ānquándài) which I think translates to ...
22
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the difference in use between 以及, 和 and 与?

I have a book with the following lesson titles: 中文以及中国 聚会和饮食 交通与环境 Why are these terms connected with 以及 / 和 / 与, why not always use 和 for example? Are there any rules for proper use of these ...
18
votes
5answers
7k views

Confusion about bian 邊 and miàn 面

I'm having a little trouble with learning directions and positions. It seems that most often the word bian is being used to indicate a position: front side 前邊, back side 後邊, etc. But then I see stuff ...
16
votes
2answers
4k views

Difference between 许多 and 很多

What's the difference between 许多 and 很多? For example, in this sentence I found on Jukuu both terms are used: After years of teaching, I have many memories to dwell on in idle moments. 过了许多年的教学生涯,...
8
votes
4answers
510 views

Does Chinese have a phrase equivalent to “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", ...
7
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the difference between 阅读, 读, and 看?

What is the difference between the three read verbs, 阅读,读,and 看? A casual googling gets you some explanations but as I still can't get it correctly and it has not been posted here, I wish someone ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

When is it appropriate to use 亲爱的?

In English it perfectly fine in a business context and for someone you have never met before to use Dear XXXX at the beginning of a letter or email. This causes some difficulty when moving to another ...
5
votes
3answers
320 views

Adverbs that don't use 地

So I know that to make an adverb, you use 'de/di' and put it before the verb like: 我兴奋地打开了我的礼物 But in my studies this week I saw this: ...病症的人逐年增加 and 逐渐成长为独立 Am I right in thinking that ...
5
votes
8answers
1k views

Why Chinese use too many 错别字?

What do you do when your Chinese friend say something that you don't know? You will ignore whatever that is, pretending you got it and move on. Most of the time, it's not even your fault that you can'...
4
votes
4answers
614 views

What is the meaning of 一看 in 打开盒子一看,里面是一只小猫?

打开盒子一看,里面是一只小猫 Is it the same as 看看 or 看一看?
4
votes
4answers
10k views

In what instances can use you use 干嘛 over 干吗 (and vice versa)?

I noticed that 干嘛 appears used in various forms of media, such as newspapers, magazines, and movie subtitles. From a pronunciation standpoint, 嘛 and 吗 are different (neutral tone vs. second tone, ...
11
votes
7answers
3k views

What is the difference between using 光 vs using 只?

What is the gramatical difference between 光 and 只? 光剩下2毛钱 does not have the same meaning/context as 只剩下2毛钱 It seems there is more emphasis to the part that comes after 光. When is the right time to ...
22
votes
8answers
9k views

Difference between 如果 and 要是?

In the Pimsleur Mandarin course it uses 如果 (rúguǒ) to mean 'if', but the dictionary shows 要是 (yàoshì) to have a similar meaning: 如果: if; in case; in the event that 要是: if Are there any ...
15
votes
3answers
54k views

What is the formal/polite way to begin and end an email in Chinese?

In English, formal emails, e.g. emails to a professor, often start with "Hi", "Hello", "Dear" followed by the receiver's name (and title, if applicable). The ending is ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

Difference between 合适 and 适合

Both 合适 and 适合 mean to fit/to suit. I know the grammatical form needed for each one is different: 在这个情况下,你在穿的衣服就不合适。 我在找一个适合我的女孩子。 Aside of that, I have been told they cannot be used ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

What does “老” in “老虎” and “老鼠” mean

As I remember, 虎 and 鼠 are standalone nouns, meaning tiger and mouse, respectively. However, it seems that 老虎 and 老鼠 are more commonly used. Why is 老 used as a prefix for 虎 and 鼠? Why do we use 獅子 ...
18
votes
8answers
2k views

Why is 两 used for quantities of two rather than 二?

I understand that 两 is used instead of 二 when dealing with quantities of two. However, my question is - why? What are the historical reasons behind this? I looked at Wikitionary but it only had ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What distinguishes 各位 (gèwèi) from 大家 (dàjiā)?

From dict.cn: 各位 (gèwèi) = everybody 大家 (dàjiā) = everyone So they seem closely related, but I don't think they're identical. Today is Teacher's Day and messages like "祝各位老师节日快乐" are popping up in ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a difference between 担心 (dānxīn) and 着急 (zháojí)?

They're both verbs, they both have meanings "to worry, to be anxious", they both seem to be able to be used as adjectives also. I just want to know if there's any difference: is one used more in ...
15
votes
5answers
7k views

What is the difference between yǐqián (以前) and zhīqián (之前)?

I'd like to have some way to differentiate between yǐqián (以前) and zhīqián (之前), in order to help with memorising them both. Referring to Modern Mandarin Grammar (Claudia Ross, Routledge 2006), it ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Difference between 而, 但 and 和

和 means 'and', and so does 而. What is the difference between the two. I also know that 而 means 'but', and the second question is what is the difference between 而 and 但. Give me an example sentence, ...
4
votes
7answers
98k views

What should I use to say “I love you”: “wa ai lo” or “wo ai ni”?

Some of my Chinese friends speak Chinese. I asked them how to say "I love you" in their language, but most of them said "wa ai lo" not "wo ai ni", how can this be? I look for google translate, it ...
4
votes
5answers
816 views

What is the difference between 顾客 and 客户?

This is a relatively simple question, but until now I have not consistently heard or seen a dominant choice. Is there a difference? And if so what is the difference.
2
votes
1answer
172 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
187 views

要 to indicate “will [verb]” vs “need”

Consider the sentence: 我要去北京。 This means "I will go to Beijing". But 要 also means "need". So could this sentence also be translated as "I need to go to Beijing"? How would you make the distinction ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

“Learn” vs. “Study”

I've read the thread on 學 vs. 學習, and I have a slightly related question. In English, the words "learn" and "study" are somewhat interchangeable, but also fairly distinct, in that there is a ...
10
votes
6answers
1k views

Using 老头 / 老头子 when speaking to others

I'm trying to get some clarification on whether or not it is impolite to use 老头 / 老头子 when speaking outside a group of friends when referring to a third party. From my understanding 老头 is quite ...
10
votes
3answers
869 views

Two-character homonyms with same meaning

This is question about synonymous homonyms in Chinese, in particular, two-character words with same sound, tone. Edit: to keep the question simple and broad, I am using the word "homonym" in a non-...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

What's the difference between 舅舅 and 叔叔?

My favorite short story in modern Mandarin, 2015 by 王小波, is basically a long, humorous digression about the author's 舅舅: 我舅舅是个无照画家,和别人不同的是,他总在忙些正事。有时他在作画;有时他卖画,并且因此蹲在派出所里。他作画时把房门锁上,再戴上个防震耳罩,...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Difference between 曾经 and 已经

In this question I was asking about 曾经 and one answer says it means 'already'. What's the difference between 曾经 and 已经? Do the two sentences below have the same meaning? 他曾经在北京学过两年汉语。 他已经在北京学过两年汉语。
7
votes
8answers
2k views

Is 其他人 any different from 别的人?

I guess the question could also be, is 其他 any different from 别的? Is one any more formal, any more slang, any more rude, anything of the sort, than the other? Or are they essentially the same?
7
votes
2answers
2k views

“If you say so”: Dismissive agreement

I would like to know some ways to agree in a non-committal or dismissive way. For instance, in English, we have: If you say so. Is that so? (with a flat intonation) Really? (flat intonation) Whatever ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the polite/proper way to address elderly whom I am not familiar with?

I was wondering what is the polite way to address elderlies I do not know. Take the following context for example. Perhaps I visit a store and there is an elderly woman running the register and I ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

都 vs 也 in “连。。。都/也” structure

I would like to learn when to use 都 and when to use 也 in the 连。。。都/也 structure. My current understanding is that 都 is often used for positive sentences whereas 也 is generally used for negative ...
4
votes
4answers
558 views

Is 个 acceptable for all nouns?

My Chinese teacher says she doesn't care. But for future reference, is 个 acceptable as a measure word for all nouns?
3
votes
3answers
194 views

Are both 回了 and 回来了 correct responses to 你回天津了吗 (have you returned to Tianjin)?

Someone asked me: 你回天津了吗? (nǐ huí tiānjīn le ma = have you returned to Tianjin) I replied 回了 (huí le = returned), but I'm wondering if I should have said 回来了 (huílái le = returned) instead, or if ...
3
votes
1answer
438 views

Difference between 只,之, and 支?

I'm a native speaker but I don't know the first thing about writing Chinese, on Rosetta stone we were shown 一支笔 and 一只狗, whats the difference and where and when do you use each one?
3
votes
2answers
222 views

Why is 本人 inappropriate in an objective text?

I know that in everyday life I should use 我。But I was under the impression that, when I am writing an impersonal text with some distance from the reader it was okay to use 本人。Below I wrote a text on ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Difference between 能 and verb + 得了(de liao3)

I remember once being told that there are differences in usage and meaning between 能 and verb + 得了. 他能来。 他不能来。 他来得了。 他来不了。 EDIT: Maybe my examples above weren't that good. Here are some new ones: ...
2
votes
3answers
170 views

What would the meaning of '之前知道' be? And '之前知道了'?

If someone said '我之前知道【proposition】' would this imply that they knew it before, but no longer do? How about '我之前知道了【proposition】'? What about when the time is specific such as ‘昨天我知道【proposition】’? ...
2
votes
4answers
230 views

“我被他当做(了)自己的儿子。” 干爹 gāndiē or 教父 jiàofù?

Here is an issue that came up while I was discussing a grammar exercise with my Chinese language partner. My grammar book has an exercise where the solution is "我被他当做(了)自己的儿子。" My language partner ...