Mandarin Weekly #89

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #89, wchinese-learningith links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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ImageThe Chairman’s Bao is the first online Chinese newspaper, written and simplified for students of Mandarin. With an archive of over 1,300 HSK (3-6+) graded news-based lessons, with up to five more published daily, TCB has four times more content than any other Chinese news-based reader. Throw in cross-platform access and synchronization – website, iOS and Android apps – as well as a whole host of exclusive features to aid language learning such as: comprehensive grammar points, live dictionary, and intelligent flashcard system, TCB is the ultimate Chinese learning companion. Learn in a way that’s compelling, engaging and current. I highly recommend this resource, especially if you wish to really improve your reading and listening skills in a fun and contextual manner!

Online HSK1 course

Beginner Are you still at the earliest stages of learning Chinese? Peking University is offering an HSK1 (i.e., beginner) online course via Coursera. The video lectures and course materials appear to be available for free, to anyone who registers:

Delicious measure words

Beginner Measure words are important, and you’ll find many different kinds when you go out to eat. Here is a collection of useful food- and drink-related measure words from ChinesePod:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Deciphering menus

Intermediate So, you go to a restaurant in China, and you’re handed a menu. Now is when your Chinese reading skills are really put to the test. However, understanding a menu is easier when you get how Chinese meals are constructed, and what types of food will be offered:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Mocking yourself (and others)

Intermediate I often use self-deprecating humor when I lecture. How can we say this in Chinese? Moreover, how can we say that someone is teasing you, or that you are teasing them? The word 黑 (hēi), which means “black,” is the key:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Understanding 才 (cái)

Intermediate The word 才 (cái) means “only,” but not exactly “only” in the English-language sense. This video from provides an introduction an explanation of when and how to use 才:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Family tree

Intermediate When I started to learn Chinese, and asked how you say the word “brother,” I was surprised to discover that there are different words for “older brother” and “younger brother.” Other relatives are often described based on their relative age, as well as whether they’re from your mother’s or father’s side. This can all get confusing, so the following post and chart is handy:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Different types of thinking

Intermediate The verb “think” has a number of different meanings, and Chinese uses different words for each. In this video, we learn the differences between them:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

Saying @

Beginner How do you pronounce the symbol @ in Chinese?

Twitter: @NihaoHello


Intermediate How can you describe doing two things at once? Use the 一边。。。一边 (yì biān…yì biān) grammar pattern:

Coulda shoulda woulda

Intermediate How can you express the ideas of “could have,” “should have,” and “would have” in Chinese? Another video from Chels explains it all:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

Hanging out with your friends

Intermediate If you’re standing around and chatting with your friends, what do you talk about? Moreover, if you want to do something other than just stand around with your friends, what can you do? Here’s an introductory vocabulary list and phrasebook for the next time you are doing nothing but want to talk about something:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Homophones and culture

Intermediate Chinese is full of homphones, words that sound the same. These similar-sounding words have led to many cultural expectations and beliefs. Here are some simple ones to learn from (and possibly avoid):

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

All smiles

Beginner The word 笑 (xiào) means “smile,” but it’s used in a number of other words:


Fall has arrived

Beginner Autumn (fall) has arrived! This short article describes some basic fall-related vocabulary, as well as the use of 了 (le) to indicate that an action has occurred:

Twitter: @ninchanese

Passive voice with 被

Intermediate How does the 被 character let us express passive voice?

Take out?

Intermediate If you want to order something from a restaurant “to go,” how would you say it in Chinese? The term 外带 (wài dài) mgiht be right… but it might not, as this discussion shows:

Getting someone’s number

Intermediate How do you ask for someone’s (phone or room) number? There are a number of expressions, discussed here:

What kind of frying?

Beginner The word 煎 (jiān) means to fry in a pan, but what is the equivalent cooking term in English?

Ancient use of 辣

Intermediate In modern Chinese, the word 辣 means “spicy”。 But spicy food in China is the result of introducing chili peppers — which are from after the time of Columbus. Was this character used before then, and if so, how?

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