Mandarin Weekly #57

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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Chinese zodiac history

More than you ever wanted to know about the Chinese zodiac, including vocabulary and the traits associated with people born in various years:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Reading the Chinese zodiac

The Year of the Monkey is one of 12 years in the Chinese cycle. How does this cycle work, and what are its parts? This posting will explain it all:

New Year traditions

It’s not too late to learn about New Year traditions; this post from ChinesePod tells us about some things people do in China around and on the New Year:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

New Year phrases

LearnChineseNow provides phrases and traditions associated with the new Year of the Monkey, including some great footage of the annual release of lanterns in Taiwan:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Monkey words, goat words

We just finished the Year of the Goat, and are starting the Year of the Monkey. What words and phrases in Chinese use the words “Goat” and “Monkey”? This posting will give you some examples:

Learn calligraphy

Ever want to learn to write Chinese characters, perhaps using calligraphy? ChinesePod’s video introduces the art of calligraphy, teaching some Spring Festival-related characters along the way:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Question words

How do we ask questions in Chinese? The words are slightly different than what we use in English, and this posting introduces a number of them, along with examples of when to use them:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

The story of Nian

How did Chinese New Year come to be? An ancient legend about Nian, which helps to explain many of the customs around this holiday:

The Monkey King

Happy Year of the Monkey! In this post, we learn why monkeys are considered to be positive in Chinese society:

Twitter: @SpeakUpChinese

Monkey phrases

In honor of the Year of the Monkey, here are some Chinese phrases (in Pinyin) you can use in conversation:

Horses and tigers

One of the first phrases that Chinese students learn is 马马虎虎 (mǎ mǎ hū hū), which means “careless” or “so-so.” Why does it have these meanings? This posting introduces the history and meaning behind the phrase:

Yes, we can!

How do you say you can do something in Chinese? It depends on what sort of “can” you mean; there are several different words, and learning to use them right can be somewhat challenging:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Business vocabulary

Planning to business in China? Here is a list of 26 words and phrases having to do with business, which you can use to impress (or just communicate with) your Chinese colleagues and clients:

Twitter: @FluentU

Buying train tickets

Want to travel by train in China? This posting walks you through the vocabulary and sentences you’ll need, starting with the basics, and moving up to different types of seats, and presenting your ID:

Twitter: @DuChinese

Africa in Chinese

How do you call African countries in Chinese? This chart will provide the answers:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Your face

How do you say such body parts as “eyes,” “ears,” and “nose”? And how do you identify those characters? Here are some hints to help you out:

Twitter: @learnchinese88

Love in China

How do you talk about love, Valentine’s Day, and spending money on appropriate gifts in Chinese? This posting will provide you with plenty of vocabulary on the topic:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Show the love

How do you express love (or affection) in Chinese? Here are some useful phrases to use on the people you most care about — assuming they speak Chinese, of course:

Expressing your love

How can you tell someone that you love them on Valentine’s Day? Here are some phrases to help you out, thanks to LearnChineseNow:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Finding a good teacher

If you’re learning Chinese, then you likely have (or should have) a teacher. Here are some hints for how to choose a good one:

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

Books to improve your Chinese

You’re listening to podcasts, watching videos, studying characters, and meeting regularly with your teacher. But wait! There is still some time in which you’re not learning Chinese, which you have to fill somehow! Why not get a good book that’ll help to reinforce what you’re learning? In this posting, we learn about several books (one of which I’ve been reading and enjoying) that can indeed help with your Chinese:

Twitter: @FluentU

Day and time

Telling time (and saying the day) in Chinese is straightforward… mostly. Here’s a post that introduces the structure:

Building blocks

Learning characters is just the first part of reading Chinese. Then you have to combine those characters into words — which is easier and more logical than you might think. In this post by Olle Linge, we see the difference between characters and words, and how to move up from those to sentences and paragraphs:

Who has a birthday?

ChineseClass101 has a short dialog and quiz about someone’s age. How are your listening skills?

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Hot pot

One of my favorite parts of visiting China is eating hot pot. Why not try to make it at home? This posting provides some instructions for making your own hot pot, along with the vocabulary you’ll need to describe it in Chinese:

Wednesday questions

The ChineseLanguage reddit has a new feature, 问题 (wèn tí) Wednesdays — ask questions that are bothering you! This week, there were already some great questions and answers:

Why are there radicals?

One of the best ways to improve your Chinese reading is to learn and identify radicals in characters. But why are there radicals?

Two ways to wear things

Chinese has two different verbs for “wearing” something, 穿 (chuān) and 戴 (dài). How do we know which to use?

Just a little

What does 一下 (yī xià) mean,and how do you attach it to a verb?

It’ll definitely happen

There are a few ways to say “it’ll certainly happen,” or “it’s inevitable,” in Chinese. Here is a discussion of the differences between these terms:

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