Mandarin Weekly #50

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

Please tell your Chinese teachers, fellow students, and others about this free resource.

To receive Mandarin Weekly in your e-mail inbox every Monday, just use the subscription box on the left side at Or follow us on Twitter, at @MandarinWeekly!

Must-know verbs

A great video from ChineseClass101 with 25 verbs (and related vocabulary) you should know in Chinese:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Verb differences

In English, we “do” homework, but in Chinese, we “write” homework. Different languages use different verbs to express the same action; here is a list of some such verbs that you should know in Chinese:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Yes and no in Chinese

How do you say “yes” and “no” in Chinese? The answer is a bit more complex than you might think:

Are there shortcuts?

We all want to learn Chinese faster. But are there any shortcuts that can truly cut time off of the learning experience?

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Character bites

Chris, from Fluent in Mandarin, is back with two more characters:

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

December holiday vocabulary

Are you celebrating one or more holidays this December? Then this handy guide will tell you how to describe them in Chinese:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Christmas in China

How do people celebrate Christmas in China? Here are some vocabulary words (along with nice pictures):

Twitter: @HelloChineseApp

Yet more Christmas vocabulary

This video from LearnChineseNow introduces a number of useful Christmas-related vocabulary words:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Demeaning Chinese nicknames

Would you ever call your child a dog? Or your wife a poorly-dressed woman? Probably not, but it seems that there’s a long-standing tradition of demeaning nicknames in China, documented and described in this article (which is full of related vocabulary):

Twitter: @WorldOfChinese

Small shoes

If you’re shopping for shoes in Beijing, and you have big feet, don’t be surprised if you have a hard time! This article really spoke to me; I had terrible problems finding size 46 shoes in Beijing:

Chinese is easier than you think

Chinese has a reputation for being very difficult to learn. Is this true? At least one person things that it isn’t:

Twitter: @TysonGibb

The shortest route

A short story in Chinese, read aloud with characters and pinyin for you to read, as well:

Twitter: @ChineseAtEase

Improving your Chinese handwriting

Want your handwriting in Chinese to improve? Here is a roundup of the various apps and guides you can use to make it more accurate and neater:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

When can you read a newspaper?

If you have passed HSK4, does that mean you can read a newspaper Maybe, but not necessarily. Here are some experiences, along with advice, from other advanced learners:

Measuring accidents

The word 事故 (shì gù) means“accident.” But what measure word goes with it? The answer is a bit more complicated than you might think:

The 是。。。的 (shì … de) construct

This common construct in Mandarin allows us to emphasize when, where, or how something was done, as described in this discussion:

The 起来 (qǐ lái) construct

In this discussion, someone asks about 起来 following a verb, which results in an interesting discussion regarding its use:

“Who” as a relative pronoun

In English, we can use “who” not only when asking questions, but also in phrases, such as “the woman who was eating that ice cream cone.” How do we do that in Chinese, and do we use the word 谁 (shéi) to do so?

Mandarin Digest #49

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

Please tell your Chinese teachers, fellow students, and others about this free resource.

To receive Mandarin Weekly in your e-mail inbox every Monday, just use the subscription box on the left side at Or follow us on Twitter, at @MandarinWeekly!

Improve your Chinese with Decipher Chinese and The Chairman’s Bao

In this posting on About Mandarin, Olle Linge describes two resources for improving your Chinese — The Chairman’s Bao and Decipher Chinese:

Another review of The Chairman’s Bao

It would seem to be review season in the Chinese world, with Chinese Musings also chiming in with a (very positive) review of The Chairman’s Bao:

Winter activities in China

In the winter, where can you go and what can you do? This article from ChinesePod describes (with charactres and pinyin) some of the uniquely winter activities you can enjoy:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Winter activities vocabulary list

Once you have read the above liste of activities you can do in winter, read through this fuller list (with fewer explanations) of other winter activities and clothing:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Topic-first sentences

Topic-first sentences are a standard structure in Chinese, and one that’s worth getting used to, as described by Julie on the Yoyo Chinese blog:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Four useful measure words

You can just use 个 (ge) for everything, but try to make your measure words more accurate, for a variety of reasons. This article introduces four that are especially useful:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Do you really need measure words?

This article asks if (and why) we even need measure words, and introduces some slangy combinations for two and three:

Identifying radicals for easier reading

If there’s one topic in reading Chinese that we discuss non-stop, it’s the importance of identifying radicals. In this post from DigMandarin, we see a few characters with and without the speech 讠(yán) radical, which means a character has to do with speaking:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

The 25 most important nouns

What nouns should you learn first? This list, from, is a good starting point:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Star Wars quotes (in Chinese)

Lots of Chinese-related sites have been running Star Wars vocabulary over the last week. In this post, Learn Every Day Chinese provides us with translations of some of the most famous quotes from Star Wars:

Twitter: @learnchinese88

Using 就 (jiù)

Chris from Fluent in Mandarin provides another “character bite” — this time with 就, a character with many meanings and uses:

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

Hacking Chinese: The book and course

Olle Linge, famous to many Chinese learners for his “Hacking Chinese” blog (among others), has released a book and video course aimed at people who want to improve their Chinese, but even more so want to get better tools for improving their Chinese:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Oh, my goodness!

How can you express that in Chinese? How about “Oh, my mother!” An introduction to this phrase, with many examples:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Moving between simplified and traditional characters

It’s often said that you can always move from one character set to another, but how true is that, and what limitations might there be?

Buying a computer

Get some listening practice from, with a short story and question about buying a computer:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Christmas vocabulary in Chinese

China doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, but you can see decorations and hear the songs all over. (I know this, as I’m writing from Beijing right now…) What are some vocabulary and other Christmas-related items in Chinese? FluentU provides a healthy sample:

Twitter: @FluentU

Creating a Chinese font

You think that reading and writing Chinese is hard? How about creating a font that can support all of the characters? This isn’t directly related to learning Chinese, but will probably give you some perspective on how tools to support the language are created:

Superhero names in Chinese

If Star Wars translations aren’t enough, how about this list of superhero names in Chinese, brought to you by Master of Mandarin:

Twitter: @MasterofM2015

Enough to drink?

How can you say (or ask) whether one bottle of wine is enough? A short discussion and clarification of this topic:

Act casual

Can we use 随便 (suí biàn) to mean “casual,” in the sense of dress for a party?

Struggling with tones?

You’re not alone, if you’re having problems hearing and/or remembering and/or saying tones. Some advice and suggestions from other Chinese learners:

Mandarin Weekly #48

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

Please tell your Chinese teachers, fellow students, and others about this free resource.

To receive Mandarin Weekly in your e-mail inbox every Monday, just use the subscription box on the left side at Or follow us on Twitter, at @MandarinWeekly!

Types of Chinese characters

Reading Chinese requires work, for sure. But once you understand the structure of the characters, learning new ones (and understanding even those you don’t yet know how to read) is simpler than you might think, as explained by Anna from FluentU:

Twitter: @FluentU

Hair, hair everywhere

This amusing (and useful!) video from ChinesePod gives you the vocabulary you need to talk about all of the hair on your body. Yes, all of your hair, even the stuff we generally don’t discuss:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Why doesn’t Chinese have an alphabet?

In this insightful article that you can show to your friends who aren’t learning Chinese (or to yourself, when you’re struggling to learn characters), Chris from Fluent in Mandarin describes why Chinese doesn’t have an alphabet, and why this isn’t necessarily a bad thing:

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

Location, location, location

Chinese lets us add prepositions to many words, to indicate a location relative to that word. Oksana from Dig Mandarin provides a number of examples, along with an explanation:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Winter solstice words

Going to be in China on the winter solstice? (I will!) Here are some phrases you can use on that day (and in this season), including special foods eaten at this time of year:

Twitter: @FluentU

Big and little

Chinese characters bites

Chris from Fluent in Mandarin is back with even more short takes on Chinese characters. This time, he’s looking at 时, 年, and 得:

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

Tone trainer

You can (and should) train yourself to hear the tones in Chinese. But how, short of spending lots of time with an instructor? Written Chinese offers a “tone trainer,” a program that you can use to try to identify tones:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

The “roof” radical

Another collection of characters from All About Chinese is out, this time with the 宀 (mián) radical, which means “roof,” and can be found in lots of characters:

Chinese reading challenge

Olle Linge is back with another Hacking Chinese challenge. This time, read as much as possible:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Getting a drink

This short video from ChineseClass101 gives you some listening practice, with a short story and a question you need to answer. Can you answer it?

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Your schedule in Chinese

This article from Sasha at Transparent Language provides the days of the week, parts of the day, and even how to tell time in Chinese — and then a chart into which you can insert your schedule, by day and time:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Getting around in Beijing

How can you get aorund in Beijing? It’s easier than you might think (as I know from many visits to that city)! Here are some hints, as well as Chinese vocabulary words, you can use to get around:

The four seasons

This short video from LearnChineseNow teaches the four seasons of the year in Chinese:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Improve your listening skills

Are you finding it hard to understand Chinese when natives speak it? (Yeah — me, too!) Well, in this post at Sapore di Cina, Furio provides us with a number of recommended steps we can take to improve our comprehension:

Uncomfortable roots

We often like to find out the origins of Chinese characters. But what if the characters have origins that make us uneasy? A discussion, with many examples:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Don’t make this mistake

Think that Chinese is tough? Ask the Chinese reporter who was fired for confusing two characters in an article:

Asking questions

When I first started to learn Chinese, I was told to put 吗 (ma) at the end of a sentence, to turn it into a question. But of course, things are more complex than that; there are other question words, and they work differently:

I’m cold; you should put on a sweater

How can you tell someone to put on some more clothes, or thicker clothes, because of the cold weather?

The (Chinese) Force Awakens

Get some reading practice (and increase your nerd cred) by watching this Star Wars movie trailer with Chinese subtitles:

Repeating words

When can we double a Chinese word, and how does the doubling changing the meaning?

Saying “the other”

There are several ways to say “other” in Chinese. This discussion points to the differences bewteen these dfiferent words:

Writing a paper

Writing a paper for class? Here’s how you can say that, and other written school assignments, in Chinese:


In English, we often use “well” as a filler word. What is the Chinese equivalent?

Using 的 with a verb

In some cases, we use 的 (de) not to indicate possession, but rather to turn a verb into a noun, which we can then reference. In interesting discussion about a small word:

Mandarin Weekly #47

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

Please tell your Chinese teachers, fellow students, and others about this free resource.

To receive Mandarin Weekly in your e-mail inbox every Monday, just use the subscription box on the left side at Or follow us on Twitter, at @MandarinWeekly!

It’s cold outside!

Is it getting cold where you live? If so, then warm up with this list of cold-weather vocabulary in Chinese:

Twitter: @FluentU

Table for how many?

If you go to a restaurant in China, the waiter might well ask you, “几位” (jǐ wèi). How do you respond? A short, but crucial, question to know how to answer:

Twitter: @HelloChineseApp

Using 点

The word 点 has a huge number of uses, from “dot” to lighting. In this post at DigMandarin, we can learn 10 different uses for this character:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Tone training course

Want to improve your tone listening skills? Olle from Hacking Chinese has announced a “tone training course”:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Songs to learn Mandarin

It seems that everyone is now finding songs in Chinese that’ll help students improve their reading, vocabulary, and listening. This list from the Chairman’s Bao newspaper provides a good starting point if you haven’t yet listened to Chinese music:

Twitter: @TheChairmansBao

Another song to learn Mandarin

Chris from Fluent in Mandarin recommends this song, The Ordinary Road(平凡之路 píng fán zhī lù):

Twitter: @FluentInMandarin

Yet another song

This song, by Jackie Cheung, is also a famous and favorite one, recommended here by Chinese at Ease:

Twitter: @ChineseAtEase

Isaac Newton, in Chinese

Isaac Newton was a world-famous scientist, as you probably know. This simple story in Chinese, read out loud and with both Chinese characters and pinyin, will tell you more, as well as improve your listening ability and vocabulary.

Twitter: @ChineseAtEase

Words with 心 (xīn)

The 心 character means “heart,” and is used in many words having to do with emotion or thought. In this post, Decode Mandarin Chinese lists several such words:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Chinese character bites

Chris from Fluent in Mandarin has a few more of his “character bites” segments this week, talking about 也, 道, 出, and 地:

Twitter: @FluentInMandarin

Reading menus

Going to China soon? You should learn the basic vocabulary that you’ll see on a menu, so that you have a chance of understanding what you’re ordering:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Third wheel

Is someone interrupting your date, acting as a “third wheel”? This amusing video clip from Learn Chinese Now introduces the Chinese equivalent of a third wheel, namely a “light bulb,” or 电灯泡(diàn dēng pào):

Just a moment

How do you say “Wait a moment” in Chinese?

Traditional or simplified characters?

Learning Chinese? Then you’re likely learning one of the two character sets, simplified or traditional. What are the relative advantages of each?

Where does one word end, and another begin?

In English and many other languages, It’s obvious where one word ends, and another begins. But in Chinese, each character can stand on its own or be part of a larger word. How can you figure out where these breaks occur, using a computer program or other automated system?

Different kinds of “style”

A question about how to translate the English word “style” into Chinese turned into a description of not only different meanings for the word “style,” but also a reminder that where one language uses a single word, another language might have two or three:

Hard grammar

What parts of Chinese grammar do you find difficult to remember?

Preschool characters

How many Chinese characters can native Chinese children read before they start school?

Mandarin Weekly #46

Mandarin Weekly #46

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

Please tell your Chinese teachers, fellow students, and others about this free resource.

To receive Mandarin Weekly in your e-mail inbox every Monday, just use the subscription box on the left side at Or follow us on Twitter, at @MandarinWeekly!

Learning to hear tones

Speaking the tones in Chinese is hard for those of us learning the language, but hearing them can often be even harder. In this post, Olle from Hacking Chinese describes how we can improve our sensitivity to tones, for better comprehension and speaking:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Everything and nothing

A great video from ChinesePod telling us how to say the words “everything,” “nothing,” and so forth:


Another video from ChinesePod, describing different types of personalities (and how to say them in Chinese):

Breaking up is hard to do

This post, from the World of Chinese, contains many expressions that we can use in Chinese to describe relationships (and their ends):

Twitter: @WorldOfChinese

Story time

Grace from Just Learn Chinese has another story in simple Chinese, with characters and then (when moused over) pinyin and translation:

Twitter: @graceJLC

Spatial relations

A great video from Helpful Chinese Resources, demonstrating the different places that things can go, and how to describe them relative to one another:

Fun homophones

Chinese has a huge number of homophones (i.e., words that sound the same, but mean different things). Hollie at Written Chinese has collected a number, and provides us with some of the more amusing ones:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Slang, slang, and slang

Three collections of Chinese slang for DigMandarin:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Basic numbers

Learning the characters for numbers in Chinese is both easy and useful. In this post, Oksana introduces a number of them, and shows how they can be combined in various ways:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Waiting for a Person

Chinese to Learn provides a nice love song in Chinese, with Chinese characters, pinyin, and English translation. Improve your listening and your reading at the same time:

Twitter: @ChineseToLearn

Do you love me?

Chris from Fluent in Mandarin offers a love song, with characters and pinyin, for a popular (if old) song:

Twitter: @FluentInMandarin

Can you really become fluent?

Chris from Fluent in Mandarin asks whether it’s possible to become truly fluent in Chinese. His answer: Definitely, but it will take time.

Twitter: @FluentInMandarin

Easy reading

FluentU provides us with a list of books (some for children, or for the young at heart) that are good for beginning Chinese readers:

Twitter: @FluentU

“Magic wand” sentences

What are some good all-purpose conversational phrases and sentences you can use in Chinese? Here are a number of useful ones to keep in mind:

Voiced initials

You’ll often find Chinese books and lessons talking about “voiced initials.” What are they, and what can/should we do to learn and understand them?

Only children

China’s one-child policy, recently changed, is the subject of much international discussion. How would you describe someone as being an only child?

How do you say “sticker”?

Some people asked whether “sticker” is transliterated into Chinese, but it turns out that you can say 贴纸 (Tiē zhǐ), or “sticky paper”:

Dedicating a book

How would you dedicate a book (or other work) to someone? There are both traditional and modern (colloquial) ways to do so:

Taping up a package

If you have to tape up a package, what words should you use?

Saying “percent”

“Percent” should be 百分之 (bǎi fēn zhī), but not everyone says it that way. Why not?

Dealing with frustration

What should you do when your Chinese isn’t improving as quickly as you would like? And when you don’t have anyone with whom you can practice?