Mandarin Weekly (每周中文) #109, 2017-February-13

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #109, a free newsletter with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Use grammar to improve your comprehension

Intermediate Perhaps you think that learning Chinese grammar is a waste of time, but in this article, we see the advantages of internalizing Chinese sentence structure and rules:

Twitter: @MandarinHQ

Chinese slang!

Intermediate Slang exists in all languages; knowing how to understand it (and use it) gives you a greater sense of comfort with the language. Here are some useful slang terms, some of which you should use more frequently than others:

Describing appearance

Beginner How can you describe how someone looks? Here are a bunch of useful Chinese words and phrases:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Fine, but what are they like?

Beginner Now that you know how to describe people’s physical appearance, how can you describe their personalities?

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Proverbs about love

Intermediate It’s Valentine’s Day, which means that it’s time to talk about love. Why not do so in Chinese? Here are some traditional Chinese proverbs about love:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

All about Confucius

Intermediate Confucius (孔子, or Kǒngzǐ) is an extremely famous Chinese thinker from the 6th century BCE. Here is some history of him and his thinking, as well as some vocabulary you can use to discuss him:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Which way did he go?

Intermediate Wondering why there are several ways to indicate direction in Chinese? This video from will teach you the difference between 向 (xiàng), 朝 (cháo), and 往 (wǎng):

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Cosmetic surgery

Intermediate Many Chinese are unhappy with the shape of their eyes, and get cosmetic surgery to “fix” things. Here is a description of this phenomenon, along with the vocabulary to understand it:

Chinese zodiac

Beginner It’s now the Year of the Rooster, part of the 12-year cycle of Chinese years. Here is an introduction to the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, and what each year traditionally represents:

Twitter: @MyTutorMandarin

Practice makes perfect

Intermediate Practice makes perfect, we day in English. In Chinese, we can say 熟能生巧 (Shú néng shēng qiǎo), as introduced in this story:

Twitter: @eputonghua

Loving songs

Beginner What do you want to say to the people you love? Here, to the tune of “Happy Birthday,” are some new (and somewhat sappy) Chinese songs:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

More loving words

Intermediate Want to express love and affection for someone else? Here are some useful words and phrases to make your feelings clear, assuming the person listening knows Chinese:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Dealing with people

Beginner Do you have to deal with people in your work? In your family? Here’s a useful word to use when dealing with people, 打交道 (dǎ jiāo dào):

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Intro to Chinese languages

Beginner Even if you’re learning Chinese, you might not know about the family of Chinese languages, and where each is spoken. This video from might fill in some of the gaps in your knowledge, with an interesting comparison of the grammatical differences:

Twitter: @langfocus

Ancient walls

Intermediate A short story about the Forbidden City and Chinese city walls:

Twitter: @imandarinpod

It’s beautiful here

Beginner A short story in simple characters, talking about a beautiful location:

Twitter: @imandarinpod

Chinese writing, Western punctuation

Why does Chinese use Western-style punctuation?

Understanding 了

Beginner The particle 了 is confusing for many of us. Here is (another!) description of how it works, and how it can be used to describe the state of an action:

Talking about things

Intermediate It’s often helpful to be able to say, “I want to talk about ___,” referring to a subject. How do you do that in Chinese?

Lantern festival

The Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the lunar month, just took place in China. But how should you call it?

Also published on Medium.

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