Mandarin Weekly #70

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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Listening and speaking

Do you find that understanding spoken Chinese at native speed can be difficult? Here are some tips for improving your listening comprehension — and along the way, your other abilities in Chinese:

The different “can”s

There are three different ways to say “can” (or “may”) in Chinese; this video from introduces them:

Twitter: @Chelseabubbly

Pinyin vs. characters

How many characters do you need to learn? And why is Pinyin not sufficient? In this video, addresses this common question, and introduces the basic patterns behind characters:

Twitter: @chinese4us

Asking questions

How can you ask questions in Chinese? This video introduces some of the basic question words, and how to use them:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Chengyu (phrases)

Here are two collections of four-character phrases that can help to make your Chinese more natural:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

More Chengyu (phrases)

Here are some more chengyu, in this video from ChinesePod:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Feeling the elephant

Have you ever heard the story of the blind men and the elephant? It’s well known in English, but is also the basis for a chengyu (four-character phrase) in Chinese, as demonstrated here by LearnChineseNow:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Wanna dance?

A fun Chinese song, with characters, Pinyin, and translation, to which you can can dance and learn new words at the same time:

Twitter: @chinese4us

Flattery will get you everywhere

A short introduction to flattering other people in Chinese

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Go away!

Is someone bothering you? Here are some words and phrases you can use to be left alone:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Very simple story

Just beginning to learn Chinese, and you want a very simple story? Here’s one to practice with:

Twitter: @graceJLC

Chinese keyboards

While not related to learning Chinese per se, this very interesting article talks about Chinese vs. English on computers, typewriters, and other communication equipment:

厉害 and 利害

Both of these words are pronunced the same (lì hài), and have similar meanings — so which should you use, and when?

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Tree hair

A short story about trees and beautiful hair:

Twitter: @ChineseAtEase

Lots of conjunctions

There are so many ways to connect nouns and phrases in Chinese; what’s the difference between them?

Difference between 还 and 又

What is the difference between 还 (hái) and 又 (yòu)? They both mean a form of “also,” but not the same kind:


How can you express a percentage in Chinese?

Chinese and Cyrillic?

Is there any connection between the Cyrillic character Ш (sha) and the Chinese character 山 (shān)?

Sorry to trouble you, but…

The word 麻烦 (má fan) can be used to indicate trouble or a problem. But how can you use it in a sentence?


There are several ways to express being unable to sleep. What is the difference between them?

Useful chengyu

What are some useful four-character phrases (chengyu) to learn and incorporate into your speech?

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