Mandarin Weekly #36, a curated digest of online resources for students of Mandarin Chinese

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Using 和 (hé) correctly

I’ve often heard that 和 (hé) means “and,” but only between two nouns — not between two verbs. This article by Vera Zhang on DigMandarin (Twitter: @DigMandarin) describes the issues, and the alternatives:

Birthday celebrations in Chinese

Sure, you might know that you say “happy birthday” with 生日快乐 — but beyond that, how much do you know about Chinese birthdays? Hollie, at Written Chinese (Twitter: @WrittenChinese), has this in-depth explanation and vocabulary list:

 Learning to distinguish between similar characters

As you learn more and more Chinese characters, it becomes harder and harder to keep them separate. Olle Linge (Twitter: @HackingChinese) has some suggested techniques for keeping them separate:

Pronunciation videos

Chris Parker (Twitter: @FluentInMandarin) released several more videos this week, helping us to pronounce Chinese and recognize tones:

Ordering at Subway

Before going to a Subway in China, you should know what you’re going to order, and how you’re going to order it. Vera Zhang at Tea Break Chinese describes what you can order, and how, including an extensive vocabulary list:


Radicals are an important part of learning to read Chinese characters; understanding them had dramatically improved my reading ability. This week, All About Chinese (Twitter: @allaboutchinese) has lists of characters with the 日 (rì, sun) and 立 (lì, stand) radicals:

Computer words

As a computer consultant, I’m always trying to improve my professional vocabulary in Chinese. Here are two lists, written by Rubén López of the Chinese YCT & HSK blog (Twitter: @ChineseHSKApps), which will help me:

Opposite words

Sasha, at Transparent Language’s Chinese blog, introduces many pairs of opposite words and phrases we can use in Chinese:

Literal US state names

Take the names of the 50 states in the United States. Now take their Chinese translations. Now translate them back into English. You’ll find some rather amusing names, none of which have anything to do with their English originals, in this blog post from Joan Pittman (Twitter: @jkpittman):


Retail help

You’re working at a retail store. Some Chinese-speaking customers walk in. How do you welcome them, and offer them help?

Go straight

In Chinese, how do you tell someone to keep going straight? It turns out there are several different ways, each with its own (slightly) different connotation:

Work in progress

In English, we say something is a “work in progress” when it’s still under development, and needs improvement before it’s considered final or ready. How can we say something similar in Chinese, particularly about our own language progress?  Here are some suggestions:

More than

What does it mean to say 上千? it turns out, this is one way to say “more than” a number — in this case, one thousand — if the number is large:

Chinese weeks

It turns out that Chinese and Japanese use totally different characters for indicating the days of the week. I found the description and background on this subject fascinating, if perhaps not directly related to learning Chinese:

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