Mandarin Weekly #67

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

To receive Mandarin Weekly in your e-mail inbox every Monday, just use the subscription box on the left side at

Our first giveaway (for three free paid versions of Hanping SoundBox) is still going on; you can enter at the giveaway page, I’ve extended the deadline until Sunday, May 1st. Next week’s newsletter will include a new giveaway with even more valuable prizes, so stay tuned!

Remember that after entering, you must confirm your e-mail address to be considered for the prize. Once confirmed, you can increase your chances of winning by encouraging your friends to join. For each friend who signs up for the giveaway, you get three additional chances to win. Didn’t see your confirmation message? Check your spam/junk folder, or contact me at

Also, don’t forget to look at our discounts page, which will continue to grow as more companies offer their products and services to Mandarin Weekly subscribers.

We’re on Twitter at @MandarinWeekly, and also on Facebook, at Please retweet and share our weekly postings, so that everyone can benefit from them!

Pronouncing pinyin

When you first start to learn Chinese, you’re delighted to find out about Pinyin — a way to write Chinese using the Latin alphabet. But you quickly discover that the rules for pinyin are inconsistent with other languages, and even with itself. Learning Pinyin is thus both crucial and frustrating. This post introduces the sounds of Pinyin, helping us to pronounce things according to the rules:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Sports talk

Sports are a great source of slang and metaphors in any langauge, including Chinese. Here are some Chinese-language expressions having to do with sports that you can use to spice up your next conversation:

Twitter: @WorldOfChinese

Photography vocabulary

Perhaps you already know how to ask someone to take your picture in Chinese — but this guide to Chinese photography-related vocabulary will almost certainly provide you with some new ways to take or edit photos, or even to be the subject of one:

Twitter: @DuChinese

Chinese cities

Thinking of studying in China? Great, but to which city should you go? Here’s a list of the most popular cities for foreign students, along with some descriptions and vocabulary having to do with each city:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Chinese zodiac

We saw some postings like this back when the new Chinese year began, but it’s never too late to learn your Chinese zodiac symbols, undersatnding which animals come when (and which aren’t included):

Fancy words

Want to demonstrate your fluency and proficiency in Chinese? Use some of these words, which are normally used only by native speakers:

The “walking” radical

The 辶 radical (for “walking”) is used in many characters. Here’s a chart of the most common:

It’s electric

The character 电 (diàn) can be used with many other characters to create new (and often common) words:

Rain-based words

You might already know that 雨 (yǔ) means “rain.” But combined with other words, you can talk about different types of rain:

Careful planning

Want to talk about careful planning? This chengyu (four-character phrase), 精打细算 (jīng dǎ xì suàn) might be just what you need:


The words 本来 (běn lái) and 原来 (yuán lái) are similar in meaning, but not quite the same. When should you use each one?

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Sing a song for you

A gentle, romantic Chinese music video, with characters, Pinyin, and English translation:

Twitter: @ChineseToLearn

Ordering coffee

Want to order coffee when you’re in China? If you want something a bit more interesting than the default “coffee,” then this guide from LearnChineseNow will come in handy:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

The importance of tones

A short video from BedroomChinese demonstrating the importance of tones:

Twitter: @Chelseabubbly

Choosing a school (and teacher)

What should you look for when learning Chinese? Can you do it on your own, or should you hire a teacher?

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Adding or raising

What’s the difference between 提高 (tí gāo) and 增加 (zēng jiā)? Both have to do with adding or increasing, but is there a distinction?

She’s a good ship

In Engilsh, we refer to ships (and some other nouns, such as countries) as “she.” Is this the case in Chinese?

Listening for tones

How can you not just say tones correctly, but also hear and identify them in other people’s speech?

Mandarin Weekly #66

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

To receive Mandarin Weekly in your e-mail inbox every Monday, just use the subscription box on the left side at

This week, we’re having our first Mandarin Weekly giveaway! We’ll be giving out copies of Hanping SoundBox (worth $2.99) to three people.

To enter the giveaway, just click here.

For every friend you get to register, you’ll get an additional three chances to win. The winner will be announced in about a week. We already have some other great giveaways planned, thanks to a number of companies; I’m excited to roll these out over the coming weeks, and hope to provide even more free services to students of Chinese!

In addition: As of this week, we are able to offer a number of discounts on items related to learning Chinese. I hope and expect that this list will grow, and appreciate the generosity of the companies who have provided us with such discounts. Just go to this page on our Web site for a list of the discount codes.

We’re on Twitter (at @MandarinWeekly, and also on Facebook, at Please retweet and share our weekly postings, so that everyone can benefit from them!

No no no

Chinese doesn’t have a literal word for “no,” but that doesn’t mean you can’t say “no” in Chinese. Instead, there are other phrases and constructs you can use:

Twitter: @MandarinHQ

Taking a taxi

I’ve taken my share of taxis in China, and knowing what to say (and how to say it) is not only useful, but a great boost to your ego when you get it right! Here are some useful words, phrases, and sentences for your taxi ride:

Twitter: @DuChinese

Finding an apartment

Renting an apartment in another country can be dfificult, especially so when you have to learn the langauge as well! Here are some tips for renting an apartment, in China, and in Chinese:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese


The character 红 (hóng) means “red,” but with that color come many connotations and words:

Twitter: @WorldOfChinese

Common conversations

Ordering coffee, watching a movie, or shopping at the supermarket? Here are some useful tips and phrases to keep in mind:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

I’ll drink to that!

The character 酒 (jiǔ) means “alcohol,” and is thus used in a variety of alcoholic drink names:

What do you do?

In this video, we learn a few ways to ask and answer questions about someone’s work:

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

I’ve been better

Does something hurt you? In many cases, you can indicate that something hurts by naming the body part and using the word 痛(tòng):

Present tense

How can you express the present tense in Chinese? Often, just precede the verb with 在, as demonstrated in this video from LearnChineseNow.

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow


If you ever read Chinese history, it’ll refer to “the XXX dynasty,” as if you’re supposed to know during what years they ruled, and what they did. Here’s a short history lesson, with Chinese characters, to help you feel less foolish:

How to learn Chinese

Olle, from Hacking Chinese, describes his arrival in Taiwan — and the strategies he used to catch up with his classmates:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

10 important questions

This list of 10 questions from should provide you with not only good things to ask friends, but potential answers:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

It’s a mess!

Is your room a mess? Is your life a mess? We can’t help with that, but with the help of this video from LearnChineseNow, we can at least describe it in Chinese:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Chinese TV

Here are some popular TV shows that you can use to improve your Chinese:

Good podcasts

What podcasts can help you to improve your listening ability? Here are some useful suggestions, some better known than others:

Placement of 跟

The word 跟 (gēn) can be used to mean “with,” but where does it go in the sentence?

Using 其 (qí)

The character 其 is used in numerous contexts; when should we really be using it, and what does it mean?

Don’t worry

When you say 不愁 (bù chóu), or “don’t worry,” what is the connotation?

Using 与 (yú) and 和 (hé)

Both of these characters can mean “with” or “and,” but in what sense? Can they be used interchangeably?

Not important

How can you say “it’s not important” in Chinese?

Very funny!

In English, we can say that someone “cracked up.” In Chinese, we have a similar expression, as described in this discussion:

Same old thing

The phrase 炒冷饭 (chǎo lěng fàn) can be used to mean not only the literal “stir leftover rice,” but also to describe a subject that has been talked to death, as this discussion describes:

The 3rd tone

How low and “creaky” should the 3rd tone be? A discussion about how the tone should sound, and how to make it:

Mandarin Weekly #65

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

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!

We’re also on Twitter at @MandarinWeekly and Facebook, at Please retweet and share our weekly postings, so that everyone can benefit from them!

Note: I’m soon going to start running some contents, giving readers of Mandarin Weekly the chance to win books, courses, and other items that can help you to improve your Chinese. If you work for a company that can offer such a product to MW readers as a prize, or have suggestions for what companies I can/should approach, please contact me at! I hope to start the contests within another week or two, so keep your eyes peeled!

Tomb-Sweeping Day

Last week was Tomb Sweeping Day, a national holiday in China. What are the origins of this holiday, and how is it celebrated? This video from ChinesePod explains a great deal:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Skritter review

How can you learn to write Chinese characters? One popular app for doing this is Skritter. This post reviews Skritter, and describes how to use it effectively:

Twitter: @SkritterHQ

In the money

How can you describe being rich in Chinese? Here are a number of terms:

Twitter: @DuChinese

That tricky 把

The character 把 (bǎ) means “handle,” but it also can be used as a measure word, as well as in some more complex grammatical constructs. Here are some simple uses for 把:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Pull that carrot!

A cute children’s song, performed and animated in various styles, with characters, pinyin, and translation:

Twitter: @ChineseToLearn

Getting a Chinese name

Do you have a Chinese name? If not, here are some hints for choosing one:

Hacking Chinese: The Book

Many of us have enjoyed Olle Linge’s many blog posts about learning Chinese on his “Hacking Chinese” blog. Here’s an announcement of a book by the same name:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Inspirational proverbs

Chinese proverbs are great ways to learn vocabulary and culture, and to make your Chinese sound more natural. Here are some to improve your vocabulary and to also give you a boost in your studies:

What not to ask

What are Chinese people tired of hearing from foreigners? Here is an amusing (and probably accurate) list of phrases that we students should probably avoid:

Twitter: @HelloChineseApp

Reading challenge

Want to improve your Chinese reading? Join the latest Hacking Chinese challenge, in which you try to read as much as possible in the month of April.

Twitter: @HackingChinese


Here are some natural Chinese greetings you can use, when 你好 gets a bit old:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Chinese snacks

Visiting China? Don’t just have your Western cookies and ice cream; try a local Chinese snack food — if you dare!

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Finding an apartment

Some basic listening practice, from ChineseClass101: Find your friend’s apartment:

Twitter: @chineseclass101


Learn all about Hunan Province, in words, pictures, and (of course) Chinese:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Which recorded class?

Which online recorded Chinese course should you use? You’ll always get many answers to this question, but this topic had a large number of useful suggestions and comparisons:

My bad Chinese

How can you tell someone your Chinese isn’t good? Here are some useful phrases and structures to understand:

That’s great!

What are a few ways to say that something is truly great?

Omitting 的

When must you include 的 (de), and when can you leave it out?

No way!

The phrase 没门儿 (méi mén r) means, “No chance!” Can you write 没门 instead?

Three-digit dates

Chinese dates are usually YYYY-MM-DD. But what about YYY-MM-DD, with only three digits for the year?

Buying vs. planning to buy

The word 买 (mǎi) can mean “buy,” but does it also mean “planning to buy?”


Mandarin Weekly #64

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

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!

Help to spread the word, by sharing Mandarin Weekly on Twitter.

Tweet about Mandarin Weekly!


We’re also on Facebook, at Please retweet and share our weekly postings, so that everyone can benefit from them!

Tomb-Sweeping Day

Some background on Tomb Sweeping Day, which takes place today in China:


Particles are characters that change the meaning of a sentence. This week, we learn about a few simple particles that can affect the timing of actions described:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Dictionary errors

Chinese-English dictionaries often contain mistakes that can point to interesting facets of both Chinese and English:

Twitter: @carlfordham

Bad wedding gifts

Are your friends getting married? Terrific! But if they’re Chinese, then some gifts are probably bad ideas?

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Saying “thank you”

How do you say “thank you” in Chinese? Here are a number of expressions you can use, which mean “thank you” in different ways:

Saying “goodbye”

What are some ways to say “goodbye” in Mandarin?

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

New wedding terms

How do you describe modern Chinese marriage arrangements in Chinese? This list should give you some linguistic and cultural insights:

Twitter: @DigMandarin


China is famous for its depiction of dragons. But for mythical creatures, dragons have a fairly complex set of names, behaviors, and relationships! In this article, we learn about those dragons, and the ways in which we can discuss them in Chinese:

Blind date

How do you prepare for a blind date in Chinese? Here are some good questions (and answers) to think about in advance:


Now that spring has arrived, here is a list of spring-related vocabulary to spice up your conversations:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Tricky words

Having trouble pronouncing some words? Here is a guide, with some example words that are tough even for natives:

Twitter: @MandarinHQ

Discussing allergies

A short dialog (with characters, pinyin, and translation) about allergies in Chinese:

Twitter: @ChineseToLearn

Sick of it

How can you use 讨厌 (tǎo yàn) in conversation to indicate you’re sick and tired of something?

Fortune cookies

Why are fortune cookies not to be found in China? Watch this video from LearnChineseNow, and find out why (or at least put a smile on your face):

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Things to burn

On Tomb Sweeping Day, it’s traditional to burn all sorts of things. What can you burn? Here’s a list, along with prices, for those who really want to give their deceased ancestors the best possible afterlife:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Working in a Chinese office

What’s it like to work in a Chinese office? What sorts of Chinese terms must you learn to say? Here is an amusing article describing some of the pressures, expectations, and vocabulary for someone working there:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

WeChat vocabulary

How do you use WeChat (微信)? And how do you talk about it with your friends,using Chinese? This article will teach you both:

Twitter: @DuChinese


Do you have allergies?

Twitter: @ChineseToLearn

How long does it take?

How long does it really take to learn Mandarin? The answser, of course, depends on how you define “learn”:

Pronouncing radicals

Should you learn to pronounce the radicals? Should you be learning radicals? Here is a long description of what you can and can’t expect from learning such things?

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Visiting the dentist

Can you reschedule a dentist appointment in Chinese? This video, from, can help you to find out:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Transliteration rules

How can (should) you transliterate foreign names into Chinese?

Introducing yourself

How do you introduce yourself in Chinese? BedroomChinese provides an introduction, using a stuffed animal:

Twitter: @Chelseabubbly

Spoken vs. written

What are the differences between spoken and written Mandarin?

可 vs. 可以

可 (kě) and 可以 (kě yǐ) can mean the similar things. When should you use the one-character version, and when should you use the two-character word?

Uninvited guests

What does the term 不请自来 (bù qǐng zì lái) mean, and how is it used?