Mandarin Weekly #56

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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Year of the ____

We are marking the start of the Year of the Monkey. What are the other animals in the Chinese zodiac, and where do they come from?

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Writing the zodiacal signs

Want to write the characters for all 12 animals in the zodiac? Chris from Fluent in Mandarin provides some insights:

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

Learning to write

A detailed introduction to writing in Chinese; if you’re interested in getting deeper into the characters, then writing is a good way to do it:

Twitter: @FluentChinese

Common grammar particles

When you learn Chinese, you quickly discover that a large number of characters come up all of the time, on their own and as part of words. Identifying these characters, and knowing how they affect the grammar of your sentences, is important — and DigMandarin provides us with a list and explanation:

Twitter: @DigMandarin


An explanation of the chengyu (four-character phrase) 丢三落四 (diū sān là sì), meaning forgetful or absent-minded:

Monkey words

It’s the Year of the Monkey, so why not learn a bunch of words that contain 猴 (hóu)?

Twitter: @DigMandarin

For the birds

An introduction to a common word (and character component), 鸟 (niǎo), or bird:

Listening challenge

It’s time for another Hacking Chinese challenge, this time listening: How much Chinese can you listen to, in order to sensitize your ears and brain to the sounds of the language?

Twitter: @HackingChinese

New Year traditions

How do people celebrate Chinese New Year in China? This article provides us with a list of common traditions, as well as the vocabulary to describe them:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

More New Year traditions

Not surprisingly, several blogs wrote this week with a bunch of New Year-related words and phrases. Here are some from Du Chinese:

Twitter: @DuChinese

Even more New Year traditions

Here are even more explanations, vocabulary, and phrases about the New Year celebration:

Twitter: @SpeakUpChinese

Popular online words

A list (with explanations) of the most popular words used online in China over the last year:

New Year discussion

YoYoChinese sponsored this video hangout with Yangyang Cheng and actor Jeff Locker, in which they discuss Chinese New Year and other Chinese-related words, phrases, and ideas:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Happy New Year!

Here are 25 greetings and phrases to use when wishing your Chinese friends and family well during this holiday:

Twitter: @FluentU

New Year songs

Want to sing your way through the start of the Year of the Monkey? Here are eight songs (and videos) you can listen to, and learn from:

Twitter: @FluentU

The story of money

Why do Chinese parents give their children money on Chinese New Year? This story provides some background, and listening/reading practice:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Yet more New Year phrases

It’s that time of year; here are a few more New Year-related words, phrases, and traditions:

New Year video

ChinesePod produced a video for Chinese New Year, teaching some useful phrases and greetings:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

New Year shopping in Taiwan

What do Chinese people buy for their New Year celebration? This video from ChinesePod visits the Taipei holiday market:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Madame President

The new president of Taiwan is Tsai Ing-wen. How is her name pronounced? Olle Linge posts on with some advice:

How to practice

How can you improve your usage and pronunciation? The key is practice; in this discussion, experienced students of Chinese suggest ways in which a beginner (or not-so-beginner) can improve:

Nouns and 子

How does adding 子 to another character, often used in noun words, change their meanings, if at all?

Have a seat

Is there a difference between 坐下来 (zuò xia lái) and 坐下去 (zuò xia qù)? These “resultative verb endings” can change the direction of intent, as described here:

Do me a favor

How can you ask someone in China to do something for you? Two common phrases are 麻烦你 (máfan nǐ) and 请给我 (qǐng gěi wǒ), but do they mean the same thing? (The short answer: No.)

It has been a while

How do you say that it has been a while since you were at the Great Wall? A discussion of saying “it has been a while”:

Did you bring it?

How do you ask someone if they have brought something? This discussion compared a few different phrases that might seem similar:

Just about right

How do you say “almost” in Chinese? There are a few different words for this, with different meanings and uses:

It’s all business

A short discussion of different ways to say “business” or “industry” in Chinese:

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