Mandarin Weekly #86

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #86, links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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This week’s links

Using 了 and 过

Expressing past behavior can be tricky for newcomers to Chinese, and the use of both 了(le) and 过 can be hard to comprehend. Here is a summary of how to use them, separately and together:

Twitter: @ChineseBoost

When is it?

What time is it? What day is it? When will you finally finish that project you owe? All of these questions are easy to answer in Chinese, once you understand how to describe the time and day:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese


How can you use the word 不管 (bù guǎn) to indicate “regardless” or “no matter what”?

20 easy characters

Reading Chinese can seem daunting, or even impossible, when you first start. Here are 20 easy (and common) characters that you can learn and use quickly:

Twitter: @FluentU

Using 家 as a suffix

We know that 家 (jiā) can mean “home,” but it can also be used to describe an expert or a professional:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Gotta do it

How can you say you need to do something? This video and blog post will help you to set you straight:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

De de de

Three words in Chinese sound the same, and have similar meanings — but they’re not identical. provides a video introduction to 的, 得, and 地, all pronounced “de,” and when we would use each:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Learning Chinese via commercials

Commercials are a great window into modern societies, and can also be a great way to learn words and usage. Here is an introduction to Chinese commercials, and some examples of good ones:

Twitter: @AlsSydney

Street signs

When you’re in China, being able to read street signs is both useful and fun. Here are some helpful tips on some of the most common phrases used on such signs:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Feel bad about yourself

Want to feel foolish? Probably not. Want to feel foolish in Chinese? Well… maybe, if it’ll help your speaking skills, right? In this video from, you can learn 10 phrases that are meant to make you feel bad:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

All about Henan

Where is Henan province, and what is there? An introduction to this region, including relevant vocabulary:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

The name says it all

So many times, a word in Chinese is a description of the thing itself. How appropriate, then, that there is an expression that describes this situation — the name describes the thing itself:

Buy it now!

The Internet has produced all sorts of new and interesting commercial opportunities. One of them is a “flash sale,” offering deep discounts for a short time. As this video from describes, such a sale is known as as 秒杀 (miǎo shā):

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Getting around a building

Here, from, is a short dialogue and quiz to test your listening skills — this time, in getting around a building. Can you follow the directions?

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Only you

Here’s a video (with characters and pinyin) of a famous song, 我只在乎你 (wǒ zhǐ zài hū nǐ) to help you with your listening and vocabulary:

Twitter: @ChineseToLearn

No, no!

When and how do you use a double negative in Chinese? Here are some examples, and explanations of the impact:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese


How do you say “hello” in Chinese? This might seem like an obvious question, but the answer can be a bit complex:

Which “day” should we use?

There are two words for “day” in Chinese, 天 (tiān) and 日 (rì). When do we use each one? Are they basically interchangeable?

Your opinion

There are different ways to indicate your opinion or judgment about something in Chinese; here is a discussion of the options, and their connotations:

Toilet paper

How do you say “toilet paper” in Chinese? It turns out that there are multiple ways to say it:


Can you use the word 请 (qǐng) to mean, “treat someone,” or “take them out”?

Simplified characters’ origins

How were simplified characters developed from the traditional ones? This short discussion points to several books and other resources on the subject:

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