Mandarin Weekly #71

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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Sorry that this week’s issue is a bit late; I just arrived for a four-day trip in Beijing, and didn’t have a chance to prepare Mandarin Weekly before leaving home. The good news is that, as on every trip, I’m finding it easier to speak, read, and understand others. It’s a great feeling, and keeps me motivated to learn more! I definitely encourage you all to try your Chinese whenever possible; even if it’s at a very rudimentary level, the feedback, along with the feelings of accomplishment, are very much worthwhile.

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Using 把

One of the trickiest parts of Chinese grammar for many Westerners is the use of 把 (ba). This article should make the usage clearer to you:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Learning to use 了

How to use 了(le) is one of the biggest questions people have in Chinese. In this video, offers an explanation (or two):

Twitter: @Chelseabubbly

Reduplicated verbs

It’s common to repeat a verb in Chinese (known as “reduplicated verbs”) to soften its meaning a bit. Here are some common mistakes that people make make when using using the same verb twice:

Chinese blogs to read

You can learn a lot by reading (and making mistakes when reading) Chinese-language blogs. Here are some good ones to look at, often having to do with a topic that’s not “Chinese language” — so you can learn about a topic that’s of interest to you, and practice your Chinese at the same time:

Twitter: @FluentU

Color chart

Sure, we can memorize lists of colors in Chinese — but here’s a handy chart with the colors themselves, plus characters and pinyin:

Choosing a seat

Flying in China, and want to choose a seat? This short video dialog from will help you to understand how to converse about this common (for travelers, at least) topic:

Twitter: @chineseclass101

Vegetarian eating

If you’re a vegetarian, or just want to eat vegetarian food, then this short guide should help you?

Twitter: @NihaoHello

What’s your job?

One of the first things many people learn to say in a language class is what they do for a living. This chart contains a very large (nearly 300!) list of occupations. Find yours, and tell people what you do, in Chinese:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Chinese astronomy

Can you describe the planets using Chinese? This list will help you to do just that. (Of course, if you’re in a Chinese city, just try to see them at night…)

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

One (successful) student’s story

How did Olle (of Hacking Chinese fame) learn Chinese? It was a long process, and he presents the fourth part here:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Buying a dress

If you want to buy a dress in Chinese, here’s an exchange (with some good vocabulary) to help you through that experience:

What should non-beginners study? And how?

If you’re new to Chinese, then it’s obvious what you should be studying — vocabulary, grammar, patterns, and characters, among other things. But once you’re past those, what should you study? An interesting discussion:

Making comparisons

Making comparisons in Chinese can be difficult or surprising for many newcomers. Here is a discussion about the different meanings of various patterns:

Double-edged swords

If you want to use the phrase “double-edged sword,” how would you say it in Chinese?

Do you carry this?

If you’re in a shop in China, and want to ask if the shop carries a certain product, how do you say it?

有 + verb

A grammar pattern that’s common in Taiwan is making some inroads into mainland China. What does it mean, and how acceptable is it?

把 and 给

When using 把 and 给 in Chinese, how much flexibiility do you have in the word order?

Tickle, tickle!

The word 痒 (yǎng) means both itch and tickle in Chinese. How can this be, and how can we distinguish among them in our speech?

No, you may not!

The word 不能 () means “you cannot,” or “you aren’t allowed to do that,” but under what circumstances can it be used?

Learning traditional characters

How easy or hard is it to learn traditional characters, if you’ve been learning simplified?


How can you ask someone to share somethinng with you?

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