大家好！ (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #84, links and information for those of us learning Chinese. My apologies for getting this out late tonight, but I just arrived in Shanghai on business, and didn’t get a chance to put out the newsletter before my flight.
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Word order is crucial in Chinese. And yet, many of us (myself included) get it wrong. Here’s a game from ChinesePod designed to help you improve:
In yet another amusing video, chelseabubbly.wordpress.com teaches us how to use 又 to describe things:
Telling time in Chinese
What time is it? And can you ask that in Chinese? You’ll be able to, after reading this article:
Which two to use?
Chinese has two versions of the number “two.” The character 二 (èr) is the number two, whereas the character 两 (liǎng) is for counting things. When you use each is usually easy to understand, with some exceptions:
Making phone calls
How do you make a phone call in Chinese? Here is a primer in how to make such calls, and conduct basic conversations:
Stirring up a hornet’s nest
This common phrase in English has a Chinese equivalent, which can be used similarly:
The tree radical
The tree radical shows up in many things made of wood, or associated with wood, as in these examples:
Lucky dog … umm…
One way to say that something is lucky in Chinese is to say it’s like dog excrement. Don’t believe me? Read this interesting (and somewhat disturbing, to my eyes/ears) take on it:
Learn by transcribing
One of the hardest tasks in learning a language is to understand native-speed speakers, and Chinese is no exception. Transcribing Chinese that you hear can thus help you to improve your listening, and to turn those sounds into characters you can read, as described here:
Chinese Olympics events
How do you say the names of Olympic events in Chinese? Here is a surprisingly long list:
Back and forth
Want to describe a back-and-forth dispute in Chinese? Here’s an explanation of the phrase 拉锯战 lā jù zhàn():
I absolutely love dumplings; when I am in China, I have them very often — and perhaps too often! If you buy pre-made dumplings, how can you cook them? Here are instructions, along with lots of useful Chinese vocabulary, from LearnChineseNow.com:
Learning via scenarios
Trying to memorize oodles of vocabulary is always difficult, as well as less effective than learning words in context. Consider working on your vocabulary in the context of scenarios, as described here:
How do you use 了?
One of the most common questions asked by students of Chinese is how to use 了(le) to indicate tense, or something similar to tense. This discussion breaks it apart with some understandable examples:
When do you not use 了?
And of course, there are some verbs that cannot be used with 了(le). What does that mean, and how is 了 different from 过 (guò):
Reading a book
There are two verbs that you can use to describe “reading,” 看 (看) and 读 (读). What is the difference between them?
完 vs 到
Both 完 (wán) and 到 (dào) can be used to indicate that an action is complete, but they aren’t the same. What is the difference?
Using 也 (yě)
We often learn that 也 (yě) means “also,” but it can have slightly different meanings, as we see here:
Sometimes, another “always”
How do we say “always” in Chinese? It depends on the precise version of “always” we’re trying to say:
If you see the date 民國74 年, what does it mean? Hint: It most certainly does not mean 1974. An interesting view of time and years in Chinese:
Types of expressions
You might have heard of “chengyu,” four-character expressions that are common in Chinese. There are other types of expressions; how are they different?
I have a strong American accent in every language I speak, including those in which I’m fluent. And I’m sure that I’m not alone; it’s normal to have at least some traces of your native language. This discussion addresses the question of whether native Chinese make fun of foreign accents:
What’s a good Chinese expression (cheng yu) to describe the idea that nobody is perfect?