Mandarin Weekly #52

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

It has now been one year since I started putting together Mandarin Weekly. Thanks so much to all you for your encouragement and feedback; it’s an amazing feeling to know that people around the world are enjoying this publication! Please continue to spread the word; if you know anyone else who is studying Chinese, please encourage them to subscribe to this free resource.

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Du Chinese released

A new app, Du Chinese, has been released for Android; (it was previously available for iOS), and is meant to help you read Chinese more easily.

Twitter: @DuChinese

Asian country names

Planning to go to Asia? If so, then you can brush up on the Chinese names for countries in Asia, using this helpful list from Transparent Language:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Harps and cows

Trying to explain something complex, and the listener isn’t quite getting it? There’s a great Chinese saying that describes this situation:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Because… therefore

How do you use the common pattern 因为。。。所以 (yīn wèi … suǒ yǐ) to describe a reason and a consequence?

Both this … and that

How can you say that something is “both X and Y” in Chinese? You use 又。。。又 (yòu…yòu), as demonstrated in numerous sample sentences:

Remembering witih mneumonics

Trying to remember your characters? One method is mneumonics, in which you make associations between the characters and something you can remember. How helpful is it, and what techniques can you use to put this method to use?

Twitter: @ChineseBoost

Freezing to death

If you’re really cold, then you might say you’re “freezing to death,” or that it’s “deathly freezing.” Chinese has a similar expression, as described here by Rita from DigMandarin:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Using flashcards

Many of us use flashcards to practice our reading. But what are some good strategies for using flashcards? Olie Linge provides some insights:

Survival Chinese

So you’re going to China, and you need to learn some basic, “survival” Chinese before your trip? In this new video series, Alison Lau introduces some basic vocabulary that might be of use.


If you’re more advanced, then Alison (from the aforementioned videos) also offers some HSK4-level vocabulary, taking it apart and describing words and phrases.

Watching variety shows

Watching Chinese TV is a great way to improve your listening and vocabulary. What can you watch, though? One option is variety shows; in this post from Du Chinese, you can learn about some variety shows — both their names, and what they include.

Twitter: @DuChinese

Chinese character bites

Chris, from Fluent in Mandarin, is back with a variety of “Chinese character bites”, with the characters 会 (huì), 生(shēng),and 以 (yǐ):

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

Brush your teeth

The latest video from LearnChineseNow tells us not only how to brush our teeth in Chinese, but the words we’ll need around that activity:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Order a pizza!

Want to order pizza? Great, but can you do that in Chinese? This listening practice from will provide you with the practice you need to get the pizza delivered:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Confucius says…

Confucius, the famous ancient Chinese scholar, is known for many sayings. Here, from Hollie at Written Chinese, are a few of them:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Not feeling well?

How can you describe feeling ill in Chinese? And different types of feeling unwell? LearnChineseNow has a video which will tell you how to describe your current state of affairs.

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

10 favorite words

Yuting from ChineseClass101 introduces 10 words that students have said are their favorites. Do you know all of these?

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Talking to the mountain

A short story, offering listening and reading practice, about a boy and a mountain:

Twitter: @ChineseAtEase

Apple watch

Emma, from ChineseWithEmma, has bought a new Apple watch. She opens the box and starts it up, describing her experience in Chinese. Perhaps not the biggest drama around, but cetainly good listening practice for Chinese-learning nerds!

Twitter: @ChineseWithEmma

Fun signs in China

If you have ever visited China, then you know that the English translations on the signs can be … challenged. (When I was in Shanghai last week, I enjoyed the sign in the subway telling visitors not to “pop off your heads” on the escalator. Here are some signs; how many can you read in Chinese, and then better understand the mistakes?

What does the neutral tone sound like?

When we learn Chinese, we learn about the fourth tone… and then we learn about the fifth tone, which isn’t a tone, or is called the “neutral” tone. What is it, and how does it sound?

Guessing the meaning

If you encounter a new word in Chinese, how can you guess its meaning?

Oohs and aahs

How often are “oh” (哦) and “ah” (啊) used in conversational Chinese? And what do they mean?

Don’t do that!

How do you indicate that something shouldn’t be done? You can use either 别 (bié) or 不要 (bú yào), but what is the difference between them?

Most of the time

How do you indicate that “most of the time,” something is true?

Non-phonetic place names

Most place names in Chinese reflect the pronunciation of the place. But in some cases, the Chinese name for the location has to do with the meaning, or some other aspect. A fascinating discussion:

Genderless, singular “they”

English doesn’t have a single word that reflects the idea of “he or she.” Actually, it turns out that we do; the pronoun “they” has now been given official status as a generless, singular pronoun. Does Chinese have a similar word? Or do we just reuse the existing pronouns?

Choosing a Chinese name

At some point, most students of Chinese will choose a Chinese name. But what should you choose, and who should help you? What considerations should you keep in mind when choosing a name?

If you’re called a “Laowai,” is that bad?

The term 老外 (lǎo wài) refers to foreigners in China. Is it disrespectful or bad?

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