Mandarin Weekly #44

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

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Most common character components

Chinese characters aren’t random drawings; they are the result of combining components in different ways. Recognizing and understanding these components can really help you to improve your reading. In this post, Carl Gene Fordham introduces a chart that he recently (and exhaustively!) made, describing the 800 most common components in an organized fashion.

Twitter: @carlfordham

How to think about the third tone

The third tone tends to give people problems. How can you think about it, to pronounce it more accurately?

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Chinese children’s books are for Chinese children

If you’re learning Chinese, then you might think that a great way to practice your reading would be to read children’s books in Chinese. After all, the level is probably low, right? John from Sinosplice reviews a number of Chinese children’s books, and comes to the conclusion that this probably isn’t a good idea — and reocmmends some alternatives

Most common measure words

Measure words are an essential part of Chinese grammar. This blog post includes a link to a chart of the 37 most common measure words, and what sorts of objects they describe:

Twitter: @MasterofM2015

Written vs. spoken Chinese

Every language (at least, the languages that I know) has differences between its written and spoken forms. Spoken language is generally less formal and more fluid, with more assumptions that the listener is expected to fill in. Chinese is no different, although the distinctions between oral and written Chinese are more precisely defined. In this article from Written Chinese, Hollie tells us about many of the differences, and how they can help us to speak and read better, as well as to understand the evolution of Chinese language.

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Variant characters

You are probably familiar with the differneces between simplified and traditional characters. But there are variations beyond these that you should recognize in characters. This post, by Ollle Linge at Hacking Chinese, explains:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Expressions with money

A quick review of the things we can do with money (in Chinese, of course):

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Practice exercises in Chinese

This blog post at JustLearnChinese describes a new Internet-based Chinese practice system known as Cloze Cards. From the few minutes I looked at it, this appears to be an interesting and useful resource:

Twitter: @graceJLC

Feeling bad

This list of negative emotions is useful for when you’re feeling down… or when you are feeling good, and just want to learn how to describe being uncomfortable, bored, or upset:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Chinese pick-up lines

Want to out on the town, and perhaps even ask someone out in Chinese? This guide introduces all of the vocabulary you need to have a great time out:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Southern accented Chinese

If you’re like me, then your Chinese teacher has been giving you something of a northern accent. But that raises the question of what a southern Chinese accent sounds like. This article by Angel at Mandarin HQ provides some insight, as well as videos, to answer that question.

Improving your Chinese via film

One way to improve your Chinese is by watching movies. Of course, the speaking might be quite fast, but this blog post from FluentU provides not only movie recommendations, but also summaries of the plots, vocabulary, and reason to watch these films:

Twitter: @FluentU

How do kids learn tones?

A discussion of how (and when) Chinese children learn tones, and why adults who learn Chinese seem to have such issues with them:

Where does 我 come from?

The pronoun 我 means “I” or “me,” but how did that character come to have that meaning?

Combining “soon” and “fast”

You might know that you can use 快 (kuài) .. 了 to express something that will happen soon. How can you say, without sounding weird, that someone will soon run faster than you?


Which is more appropriate, or formal, to describe seasons — 季 or 天?


How do you call the server in a Chinese restaurant? The answer is more complex than you might think, and depends in no small part on where you are:

How do you say “pizza”?

It turns out that there are many ways to say “pizza” in Chinese:


How can you describe someone as a “newbie” in Chinese?

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