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22 votes

A Complex Chinese Character (Characters Identified: 招財進寶)

This is actually not one character, but a stylistic conglomeration of the characters in the phrase 招財進寶, meaning "ushering in wealth and prosperity". The characters 財 and 寶 end up being represented ...
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16 votes

Is 目 suitable for daily conversations, or should I use 眼睛 (and what about 口 and 嘴巴)?

In classical Chinese, most of the words only have one character, for example, "目", "口", "道" (道路, road), "卒" (士兵, soldier)... One of the big differences between classical Chinese and modern Chinese is ...
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16 votes
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What role does 成 (chéng) play in the sentence 我把十块美元换成人民币?

成 (into) is the result complement of the verb 换(change) 换 = change 换成 = change into 兑换 = exchange 兑换成 = exchange into 兑换 mostly refers to 'currency exchange' 换 can refer to exchange between ...
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15 votes
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勇 character on soldiers' uniforms in movies

This is more of a history question. 勇 is short for 乡勇, which roughly means "militia". They are temporary soldiers recruited from the local population in times of need, and are usually disbanded soon ...
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15 votes

A Complex Chinese Character (Characters Identified: 招財進寶)

For people to understand better...
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13 votes
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Why 纹 is the wrong character to write for tattoo?

They are purists. In the words of Steven Pinker: ...also known as sticklers, pedants, peevers, snobs, snoots, nitpickers, traditionalists, language police, usage nannies, grammar Nazis, and the ...
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  • 4,492
12 votes

When to use 一言难尽

If you use Facebook, you may know the relationship status It's complicated; the Chinese version is 一言難盡. That said, the phrase is intended be used whenever the situation is complicated, in a good way ...
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12 votes
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Is 下个星期三 (xiàge xīngqīsān) = "next Wednesday" ambiguous like in English?

下个星期三 would only refer to Wednesday, next week. There is no way you would use 下个星期三 to refer to Wednesday this week, like the one that is coming two days from now, that would just be 星期三. There's a ...
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12 votes
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How to understand "你怎么了?"

It's one of those fixed expressions whose otherwise regular meaning is significantly and conspicuously altered by the modal 了, that introduces change semantics. The phrase 「你怎么(样)~」 in itself means &...
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11 votes
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Is it correct to say “在手机”?

Your sample sentence should be "我在我的手机上听音乐" as ChineseHulu.com said.And you actually SHOULD not omit the word "上" in this sentence,or it would be a little bit weird to native Chinese people. "在...上" ...
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  • 299
11 votes

How to say “On the phone” (手机里 vs. 手机上)

手机上 describes the act is observed by something from outside of the cellphone through the screen. I guess most of the humanity will do this way. 手机里, in contrast, suggests something is really inside ...
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11 votes

How did three characters for _de_ emerge?

The premise of the question is a bit backwards. It's not that de evolved into three different characters, it's that three different words evolved to have the same pronunciation in modern Mandarin ...
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10 votes
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When to use "他的太太" and when "他太太"?

When you want to express possessive relations concerning family members or relatives, you don't need 的. 我妈妈,你爸爸,她男朋友,我们家老大, etc. I have done some searches with different expressions with and ...
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10 votes
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When to use 世界 and when to use 国际

I guess you just use them the same way as in English. Look at e.g. this list: Everything that uses 国际 translates as 'international'. Similarly in this list everything that is 世界 translates as 'world'. ...
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10 votes
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Difference Between 学校 and 学堂

The connotation of 学堂 is more than "an old expression of school", but "an old-style school in ancient China". A typical 学堂 only has one room and one teacher and few students (compared with a modern ...
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10 votes

What is the difference between 怎么 and 怎么样 ?

There are good explanations on the Web. I do not think I should copy them here. Please check 怎麼 and 怎麼樣. In addition, there is a good article (pdf format) published by an associate professor, 蔡維天. ...
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10 votes
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What is 吗 doing in 你有什么事吗?

In Chinese grammar, words as 什么 are commonly known as interrogative substitutes, they substitute the word that should be found in the answer. Therefore, they have inherent interrogative semantics, and ...
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  • 5,386
9 votes

How do I decide whether to use 可以, 会 or 能?

The differences are well explained on the Chinese Grammar Wiki. It also visualises the overlaps with the following Venn diagram: A: ability in the sense of “know how to” (会 (huì) is more common than ...
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9 votes
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When should I use the 是...的 construction?

The answer is a modified citation of this awesome article: The 是 … 的 construction in Mandarin, credit of original article goes to Hugh Grigg (eastasiastudent.net). There are more links around this ...
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9 votes
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Phrases to acknowledge being corrected in Mandarin

I would simply add 謝謝你 at the end to soften the tone. 我明白了,謝謝你。 I understand now, thank you. 原來如此,謝謝你。 Ah, so that's how it is, thank you. "喔,知道了" can sound a little brisk and abrupt depending on ...
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9 votes
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Quotation Marks ("") and Angle Quotation Marks (《》)

In mainland: Both are correct. They are just two styles: ‘’ “” ,「」『』. The former are borrowed from western countries, the usages in Chinese are identical with English. The latter,「」 and 『』 are ...
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9 votes
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The real meaning of "傲嬌"

傲嬌 is a word from Japanese animation and just used in the Internet. 傲娇指的是这样一种性格: 表面上对陌生人/喜欢的人很冷淡或趾高气昂,即展现出“傲”的一面,而一旦关系突破某一好感度/耻度界限后,或者遭遇某种契机(特殊事件)的时候,就会突然变得害羞、娇俏可人,即表现出“娇”的一面。 ref : http://zh....
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9 votes
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How was 辣 used before the Columbian Exchange?

in ancient time, "辛" was used, in lieu of 辣. e.g. in 洪範: 潤下作鹹﹒炎上作苦﹒曲直作酸﹒從革作辛﹒稼穡作甘 http://ctext.org/shang-shu/great-plan/zh?searchu=潤下作鹹,炎上作苦,曲直作酸,從革作辛,稼穡作甘%E3%80%82&searchmode=showall#result ...
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9 votes

了 usage conflict "now" vs "completion"

了 (le / ㄌㄜ˙) has two meanings. 放在动词或形容词后,表示动作或变化已经完成:写完~。 When it follows a verb or adjective, it's a perfect or past tense. In this case we can use 过 or 曾经 to clarify its tense. For ...
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9 votes
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What does 就 mean in 你怎么就睡在这里了呀?

The sentence still makes sense, even if you remove 就. 你怎么睡在这里了呀? Therefore, 就 is an adverb here, and emphasizes the verb, "sleep". A few more examples are from 现代汉语词典: 表示加强肯定 ...
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