Mandarin Weekly #94

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #94, with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Advice and opinions

Intermediate How can you express your opinion in Chinese? There are many verbs and nouns, each of which expresses a slightly different idea. Here is a collection of such words, along with many examples of how and when to use them:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Passive voice

Intermediate Constructing passive sentences in Chinese typically uses the character 被 (bèi). Here are two introductions to this structure:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Is that really helping?

Beginner One word can make a difference: 帮忙 (bāng máng) means to help. But 帮倒忙(bāng dào máng) means that your help is more problem than solution. This description is followed by a nice introduction to “help” in Chinese:

Words fail me

Intermediate You know how sometimes people say things to you that are so shocking, stunning, or ridiculous that you’re at a loss for words? That happens in Chinese as well, and there’s a great phrase to express that:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

Doctor, doctor

Advanced China seems to be suffering from many cases of silly-name-condition-itis. In this humorous blog post, we find out about new “diseases” and “conditions” in modern China:

Twitter: @carlfordham

From comfortable to fluent

How do you move from comfortable use of Chinese in everyday conversations, to fluency? Olle Linge summarizes his Chinese-learning biography with suggestions for how you can achieve true fluency:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Sounding more polite

Intermediate Want to take a rough, or commanding, edge off of your statements? Use 一下 (yī xià) after a verb, and you’ll sound more natural and friendly, as we learn in this video from

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow


Intermediate Did things turn out differently than you expected? A good phrase to know is 事与愿违 (shì yǔ yuàn wéi):

Twitter: @eputonghua

Measure word 包 (bāo)

Beginner A bundle. A packet. A sack. All of these terms, more or less, are covered by the measure word 包, which can be used in a variety of ways:

Twitter: @eputonghua

Chinese cinema

Want to improve your Chinese, or at least your knowledge of Chinese culture? Here is a list of must-see Chinese movies:

Radicals and stroke order

Beginner If you want to read Chinese well, then you’ll need to identify radicals (and non-radical components) in characters. This post introduces many popular characters and their radical forms, and also mentions stroke order:

Twitter: @AlsSydney

Glossika review

Intermediate Many people learning Chinese, looking to further their education, turn to Glossika. Here is a review of Glossika’s Chinese lessons, with the pros and cons laid out clearly:

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

Western food

Beginner If you’re in China, then you’re probably enjoying great Chinese food. But sometimes, you want to have some Western cuisine. How do you say your favorite Western foods in Chinese?

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Why not just Pinyin?

Beginner When you first start to learn Chinese, you discover that you can read the language with characters (hard!) or Pinyin (much easier). So, why not just use Pinyin? Some ideas and resources on this subject:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Using question words as pronouns

Beginner You can use “who,” “what,” and “how” words in Chinese (谁, 什么, and 怎么) as pronouns, or fillers, in your sentences, as described here:

Potay-to, Potah-to

Beginner How do you say “potato” in Chinese? There are two terms to know:

Characters vs. pinyin

Beginner Does wǔ mean “dance” or “five”? With Pinyin, it’s not so clear. But with characters, it is. But wait, what about when you’re speaking (or listening)? A discussion of two characters, pinyin, and learning to listen for context:

Non-simple zero

Beginner Characters for numbers are pretty simple. Why, then, is the character for zero (零) so complex?

What does 子 do?

Beginner Many nouns consist of one character, followed by 子 (zi). What does this character do? Does it have any other uses?

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