Mandarin Weekly #41

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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Identifying and using the water radical

One of the most common radicals in Chinese characters is the “three drops,” or water, radical, appearing on the left side. In this article, Oksana Ermolaeva introduces this radical and shows a number of characters that contain it.

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Coffee in China

China is, of course, traditionally assocated with the drinking of tea. But coffee is also becoming popular in China, and you should be prepared with appropriate vocabulary beyond the simple 咖啡 (kā fēi). In this article by Sam Bleakly, we learn how to say all of those complex and fancy types of coffee, such as espresso macchiato, in Chinese.

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Ordering in Chinese restaurants

Why is it sometimes hard to use Chinese to order in Chinese restaurants? Chris from provides some advice and suggestions on this front.

Twitter: @FluentInMandarin

Understanding simple characters

Chris from introduces two more characters, 个 (gè) and 国 (guó), which are common in Chinese, comparing how they’re written in simplified and traditional characters, and how they’re written.

Twitter: @FluentInMandarin

Hungry ghosts!

Many Westerners think of October as the month in which they celebrate Halloween. China has its own version, known as “Ghost Month,” or the “Hungry Ghost Festival.” In this article, Winnie Lui writes about this festival, including Chinese vocabulary needed to celebrate and understand it.

Story time: The rich man and the fisherman

A story in simple Chinese — audio, characters, and pinyin — to help you improve your comprehension. If you aren’t sure of the meaning, English translation is provided, as well.

Twitter: @ChineseAtEase


If you’ve ever been to China, you know that stores often blast recordings welcoming you to their store. How do you say “welcome” in Chinese, and how do you use it to welcome someone to your home? In this short article, Will introduces the phrase and breaks it down.

Common antonyms

It’s often helpful to learn words via opposites (antonyms), and in this post, we get a set of many such verb pairings.

The mouth radical

All About Chinese has another chart with Chinese characters whose radical is the mouth.

Traditional or simplified characters?

One of the first things you discover when learning Chinese is that there are two character sets. Which should you learn is up to you, but you’ll almost certainly need to learn to read both, because you’ll encounter both at some point. In this video and blog post, Mark describes the differences between traditional and simplified characters, and how the transformation was made. No matter which type of characters you’re learning, this will help you to identify and understand the others.


Verb reduplication

In Chinese, we often use verbs twice. When do we do this, and why?

Indicating lateness

You might have learned that 才 (cái) indicates lateness. How do you use that?

Using 过 (guò) vs. 了 (le)

Both are used to indicate what we think of as the past tense in English, but they are used differently in Chinese, and understanding that difference is key to fluency. A discussion of when to use each construct.

Getting the most from a class

If you’re taking a course in Chinese, then how can you maximize your learning? Some hints for how you can do more than just participate in class.

Going vs. walking

Does the word 走 (zǒu) mean “walk” or “go,” and what does that mean for its use?

The third tone

Why is the third tone so hard to remember and say? Some suggestions for how to improve on your pronunciation.

Q&A from a Chinese teacher

Cici, a Chinese teacher, asked the Chinese Language forum on Reddit what questions they had about learning Chinese. The questions, and her answers, were quite illuminating.

Vacation time

There are several ways to say “vacation” in Chinese. What are the differences bewteen those?

Different ways to remember

Chinese has several verbs for “to remember.” When should you use each one?

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