Mandarin Weekly #37, a curated digest of online resources for students of Mandarin Chinese

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) Welcome to the latest Mandarin Weekly, with yet more links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

Please tell your Chinese teachers, fellow students, and others about this free resource. You can use the “share” buttons to do so.

To receive Mandarin Weekly in your e-mail inbox every Monday, just use the subscription box on the left side at


Mid-Autumn Festival

September 27th of this week was the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival, 中秋節 (zhōng qiū jié). What are the origins of this festival? What do Chinese people do to celebrate? What are mooncakes, and how do you make them? And what are some good vocabulary words for understanding it? A number of blogs wrote about it this week:

Reading through pictures

Chinese characters aren’t pictures, but learning to pick out radicals and components, and use them to create a picture of meaning, can be helpful. Ollie Linge (Twitter: @HackingChinese) writes about how to (and not to) use pictures to improve your reading ability:

The tree radical (木)

The tree radical 木 (mù) appears in many characters; identifying it allows you to remember and read many additional characters. This post from Written Chinese (Twitter: @WrittenChinese) lists a number of the more common such characters:

Terms for business presentations

I spent much of my time in China lecturing, and was thus particularly happy to find a list of vocabulary words for business presentations, written by Qiu Gui Su:

More radicals

All About Chinese (Twitter: @AllAboutChinese) has additional word lists for common radicals:

Does stroke order matter?

I write all of my Chinese using a computer, which means that I’m typing in Pinyin (i.e., Latin characters). But Chinese characters are traditionally written with a pen or brush, with a particular order to the strokes. How important is this order? Ollie Linge (Twitter: @HackingChinese) writes about this in the Skritter blog (Twitter: @SkritterHQ):

How are things?

The phrase 怎么样 (zěn me yàng) can be used in a few different ways. Sarah Soulie (Twitter: @suxiaoya), writing for SpeakUp Chinese (Twitter: @SpeakUpChinese), summarizes these ways, with some useful examples:


Using 了 (le) correctly

了 (le) is definitely a sticking point for me in learning Chinese; I’m getting better at it, but I can see why it’s tricky for so many. This discussion started with someone asking for a run-down of where and how to use 了, which I believe provided a helpful categorization:

Expressing opinions

What verb should you use to express an opinion in Chinese? A short but useful way to distinguish between several distinct, but similar, verbs:

Tense vs. time

For people coming from many languages, Chinese is odd, in that it doesn’t have tenses. But this doesn’t mean that it lacks a sense of time, or of when things happened. This discussion contains several answers that expand upon this point:

Different types of “for”

Someone asked about the differences between 为, 给, and 向. An interesting discussion ensued:

How do you say “meme” in Chinese?

Beyond the interesting answers that people proposed, there were several interesting insights into how words come into being, and what aspects of a word should (or can) be translated:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *