Mandarin Weekly #40, a curated digest of online resources for students of Mandarin Chinese

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) Welcome to the latest Mandarin Weekly, with yet more links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Non-boring Chinese

Are you always saying that things are 好 (hao, good) or 不好 (bu hao, not good)? Spice up your language a bit with these more interesting descriptions and words:

Family tree in Chinese

How can you describe various family members in Chinese? It’s not quite as straightforward as in English, because you need to pay attention to age and whether the person is related on your mother’s or father’s side. (Twitter: @ECLSchool) provides a handy chart to learn and remember:

Always and never

How do we indicate that something is always the case — or never the case? In this posting for Speak Up Chinese (Twitter: @SpeakUpChinese), Sarah Soulié (Twitter: @suxiaoya) write about when and how to use 从来 (cóng lái) and 向来 (xiàng lái):

Should you learn Zhuyin?

Like most other students of Chinese, I use Pinyin to learn the pronunciation of characters. There are other systems for writing out the pronunciation, one of which is known as Zhuyin. In this post, John Pasden (Twitter: @sinosplice) describes Zhuyin, and indicates why it might be advantageous to learn it:

Don’t be sorry!

One of the first phrases I learned, even before studying Chinese formally, is 对不起 (duì bù qǐ). But as Vera Zhang writes on DigMandarin (Twitter: @DigMandarin), you can’t use it whenever you would say “sorry” in English:

Female characters

All About Chinese (Twitter: @AllAboutChinese) lists characters with the 女 (nü) radical:

Pronunciation beyond the basics

How can you improve your Chinese pronunciation? And how important is it?  This post, by Olle Linge (Twitter: @HackingChinese) provides insights into why we should work on our pronunciation, and some ways in which to do so:

Writing characters

Chris from Fluent in Mandarin (Twitter: @FluentInMandarin) is back with even more videos about Chinese characters, and how to write them, as well as a video describing how foreigners can make their Chinese both fluent and native sounding:

Tips for learning Chinese

Chinese often seems like a huge and overwhelming things to learn. Where do you start? What should you concentrate on? Do you need a teacher? Hollie from Written Chinese (Twitter: @WrittenChinese) offers tips from her personal experience:

What do Chinese people fear?

An interesting, and somewhat amusing, analysis done by Chinese search company Baidu, this post by Sasha at Transparent (Twitter: @ChineseLanguage) includes some vocabulary describing their fears:

Sheldon’s bad Chinese

Vera Zhang, writing at Tea Break Chinese, uses Sheldon Cooper (from the Big Bang Theory) and his bad Chinese to demonstrate some bad pronunciation habits that students can and should avoid:


The “r” sound in Mandarin

How should we pronounce the “r” sound, at least as used in Pinyin?

Using 给

The word 给 (gěi) can be used as the verb “give,” but it can also be used to indicate the person for whom an action is being done. How do you use 给 in these two cases?

As a result…

When can and should we use 因而 (yīn ér)? It means “as a result,” but it seems to be similar to other words and expressions. Some answers and suggestions:

Resources for advanced learners

If you are already at an advanced level of Chinese, what can/should you do to advance your Chinese fluency? People offer a number of suggestions:

Searching and finding

How do you say that you cannot find something? The answer requires, in part, understanding the difference between 找 (zhǎo) and 找到 (zhǎo dào):

Different ways to read

When you read, you can either 读 (dú) 看 (kàn). What is the difference between them?


How do you say “Sunday” in Chinese? Both 星期天 (xīng qī tiān) and 星期日 (xīng qī rì) appear to be correct, but which is more common?

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