Mandarin Weekly #63

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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What time is it?

How can you describe the different parts of the day (morning, afternoon, and night) in Chinese? This introduction from LearnChineseNow provides the answers, also pointing to where English and Chinese have different ways of describing the same time of day:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Oh, no!

Your Chinese friend just gave you some bad news. How do you respond? In this video, you’ll hear some of the most common phrases, along with characters and pinyin:

Twitter: @MandarinHQ


Many languages use “OK” as a generic form of “yes” or “I agree.” How do you express the same ideas in Chinese?

Essential phrases

If you’re very new at Chinese, and need the most basic, essential phrases for your first trip to China, here are 20 very useful ones:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

“Ice” radical characters

The character for ice (冰, or bīng) is often used as a radical for characters that mean “cold.” Here is a list of such characters, and examples of when to use them:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Saying “no” without saying “no”

Even English speakers know that it’s often easier to say “no” with a sentence or phrase than to use the word itself — to be polite, or to soften the blow. Here are some phrases that mean “no” in Chinese:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Chinese emoticons

You would think that Chinese, with a set of characters, doesn’t need emoticons. But that’s not the case; they’re used in China as much as in the West. Here are some favorite ones, along with their Chinese names:

Twitter: @DuChinese

Casual conversation

What are some basic phrases you can use when starting to speak with others in Chinese?

Twitter: @FluentU

Oceania in Chinese

Maybe you can say “Australia” or “New Zealand” in Chinese, but what about the smaller nations in that part of the world, as well as the subdivisions of Australia? This list will set you straight:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

More Chinglish phrases

You can learn a lot about a language from the mistakes people make when translating it into another language. Here is a list (continuing the list from last week) of such phrases that sound just a little off in English:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Playing the lute

A simple story in Chinese, to improve your listening and reading ability:

Twitter: @ChineseAtEase

Hard-to-pronounce words

Many Chinese words are hard for English speakers to pronounce. Here are 10 of the most commonly mispronounced one, from ChineseClass101; I’m not convinced that these are the hardest to pronounce, but perhaps they are for you:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Comprehensible input

Listening practice is important for gaining Chinese fluency — but what should you listen to? Should you listen to things you know, or those that push you? This article describes the different approaches, and suggests that at least some of your listening be on your level, aka “comprehensible input”:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Car names

This short video, from LearnChineseNow, will tell you how to describe cars in Chinese — from simple sedans to fancy sports cars:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Emma moves in

Emma, from ChineseWithEmma, has moved into a new apartment. Join her as she describes the kitchen, cleans and unpacks, and also makes some food, all in Chinese:

Twitter: @ChineseWithEmma


Pronouncing radicals?

It’s well known that learning radicals is a great way to improve your reading of Chinese characters. But do you need to learn how to pronounce those radicals?

For example

“For example” can be written as either 比如 (bǐ rú) or 例如 (lì rú). What is the difference between them?

Express yourself

A number of different words in Chinese have to do with expressing oneself, or indicating something. This discussion goes into some detail about the differences between them:


How would you express a fractional amount of something in a sentence? A long discussion will be useful to math and science nerds learning Chinese:


The characters 手 (shǒu) and 家 (jiā) can be used to describe a person’s ability or skill level. How are they different?


It’s cold outside

A short discussion about various words (characters) used to discuss things that are cool or cold:

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