Mandarin Weekly (每周中文) #102

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #102, a free newsletter with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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You’re great!

Intermediate How do you compliment someone in Chinese? And if you’re given a compliment, how do you respond? Here are some options, at different levels of difficulty, for you to use:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Using a dictionary

Intermediate If you want to say something but don’t know how, you might use a dictionary to find the appropriate term. How do you do this without using the completely wrong one?

Twitter: @HackingChinese


Beginner You might think that adjectives are a simple subject, similar to adjectives in other languages. And in many ways, that’s right. But adjectives in Chinese can be a bit different and trickier than other languages, as explained here:

I’ll be off my phone… never

Beginner Are you addicted to your phone? Do you have friends who are addicted, checking their e-mail, messages, news, and social media every few minutes? If so, here’s a useful term: 手机控 (shǒu jī kòng), or “phone addict”:

Chinese cuisine(s)

Beginner Talking about “Chinese food” is like talking about “European food” — yes, there are some overall similarities, but each region of China has its own style, ingredients, and spicing. Here is an introduction to the various types of Chinese food you might encounter in China:

Doer of things!

Intermediate A brief introduction to the suffix 者 (zhě), which can be added to numerous words to give you a noun:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Pronouncing Chinese

Beginner Pinyin is a great way for Westerners to learn to read and pronounce Chinese. There’s just one problem: The Latin letters you’re used to from you native language don’t map to the sounds you’re used to hearing and saying. Here’s a brief video introduction, from

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Using 之 (zhī)

Intermediate What is 之, and when would we use it? A short video introduction from

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Christmas words

Beginner It was Christmas this week, and while China doesn’t celebrate Christmas per se, there are lots of decorations, sales, and other seasonal specials. Here are some Christmas-related words in Chinese:

Christmas songs (in Chinese)

Intermediate Want to sing your favorite Christmas songs in Chinese? Here’s your chance, with these translations (using characters and sung in a video, but, no pinyin):

Twitter: @AlsSydney

Breakfast in China

Beginner Breakfast in China isn’t like in other countries; here are some typical Chinese breakfast foods, along with their names in Chinese:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Leftover eggs?

Beginner What do leftover eggs have to do with Christmas? A Chinese pun, along with other Chinese customs around Christmas:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Multiplication rhyme

Intermediate Want to practice your multiplication tables in Chinese? Of course you do! Not only will it teach you some Chinese, and also give you a cute rhyme, but it might even help you with math in your native language:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Love song

A new (and in my opinion, quite beautiful) love song, with video, characters, pinyin, and translation:

Twitter: @ChineseToLearn

I’m asking you to do it

Beginner A common sentence structure in Chinese is sometimes called “pivotal,” and involves the first subject asking the second subject to do something. You’ve probably said such sentences before; this is your chance to understand and formalize it:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Where am I?

Intermediate If you travel in China, you’ll likely get lost. How do you get where you need to go? Ask the locals! Here are some pointers and tips for asking for directions, including a number of common, useful phrases for getting back on track, via a variety of modes of transportation:

Twitter: @FluentU

Joke-telling in the wild

Beginner What happens when you try to tell a joke in Chinese in a shopping mall? A brave volunteer did this for, and then had his pronunciation analyzed for everyone’s benefit:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Naïve and generous

Intermediate The phrase 冤大头 (yuāndàtóu can be useful when describing someone who isn’t so wise about using their money:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Identifying parts of a character

Intermediate When you start to read Chinese characters, you learn that many characters have a “meaning” part and a “phonetic” part. How can you identify them, and when is the difference not obvious?

Boiling water

Beginner Why do we use the character 开 (kāi) to describe boiling water?

Who or what rains?

Beginner To say “it’s raining” in Chinese, say 下雨 (xià yǔ). Why is there no subject?

What does 以 (yǐ) mean?

Advanced In literary Chinese, what does 以 mean?

Also published on Medium.

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