Mandarin Weekly #73

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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Giveaway: One year of The Chairman’s Bao (an $80 value)

Do you want to improve your Chinese reading ability? Of course you do, but tcbwhat you can read? I’m often bored by the stories in my Chinese textbook — but my reading level isn’t yet good enough to read ”real” books and newspapers.

That’s why I was so excited when The Chairman’s Bao launched: It provided me with a mix of interesting (and often off-beat) stories written in easy Chinese, with tons of support for improving my vocabulary and grammar. Nearly every day, I read through at least one article in TCB, and there’s no doubt that my reading has improved dramatically as a result. The stories are tagged according to HSK level, so you can choose stories that are right for your current level of Chinese.

Oh, and TCB helps you with your listening comprehension as well; instead of (or in addition to) reading the story yourself, you can listen to a native Chinese speaker read it to you.

Now that TCB is out of beta, they’re starting to charge for this service, at a price of $80/year. By entering this giveaway, though, you’ll get a chance to get one year of The Chairman’s Bao premium — including written and spoken articles, vocabulary lists, and grammar patterns — for free!

Moreover: For every friend you recruit to join the giveaway, we’ll give you three additional chances to win. So if you get five friends to sign up for the giveaway, you’ll have a total of 16 chances to win.

The giveaway is running for two weeks; sign up today at

Discounts for Mandarin Weekly readers

I’ve been in touch with a number of online schools and resources for learning Chinese, and they have agreed to provide discounted services to readers of Mandarin Weekly. Check out our discount page for a full list and the coupon codes!

Shopping as a Chinese lesson

One of my favorite things to do in China is go shopping Not ony because it’s practical, but because it introduces me to vocabulary, and also because the interactions I have there let me practice my Chinese a bit. It seems that I’m not alone in thinking that shopping is a great way to improve your Chinese:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

History of written Chinese

Chinese is one of the most ancient forms of writing in the world. What are its origins and history, and how has that history affected the language?

Twitter: @carlfordham

Different strokes

Chinese characters aren’t just written; they are created from a variety of standard strokes, each of which has its own name. Learning these strokes can help you to identify characters, as well as write them yourself:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese


What are the Chinese signs of the Zodiac? Here’s a full list, along with sentences you can use to describe them:

Twitter: @DuChinese

About trains

Another video about taking the train in China; this time, concentrating on describing (and showing) the types of trains, and the differences between them:

Buying train tickets

Plan to take the train in China? Here is an introduction to how you can purchase train tickets in Chinese:

Twitter: @Fluent_Mandarin

Using 就 (jiù) and 才 (cái)

These two words add nuance and preciseness to your Chinese. Here are some hints for how to use them, and to take the mystery out of them:

That makes sense

How do you say “that makes sense” in Chinese? CrazyFreshChinese has a short video on the subject:

Accelerating your Chinese

There’s so much to learn in Chinese — and yet, our goal is often to become as fluent as possible, as quickly as possible. Here are some hints for doing so, including thoughts about what to read and listen to, and how to think about words:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Body parts

Ever wonder how to say various body parts in Chinese? Here’s a vocabulary list, including various parts that you probably won’t get in an introductory class:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Real Chinese food

What do people in China really eat? Here are some examples, along with vocabulary and pictures:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Four Chinese inventions

In this video from LearnChineseNow, we learn about four inventions that originated in China:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Using a Chinese compass

How do you use a compass in Chinese? LearnChineseNow provides directions for getting directions:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Measure words

A short introduction to measure words, a topic that surprises many newcomers to Chinese:

Ancient Chinese weapons

You probably (hopefully) won’t need to use any of these weapons — but if you do, at least you’ll know how to call them in Chinese:

Twitter: @WorldOfChinese

Learning traditional characters

If you have learned simplified characters and want to learn the traditional forms, what’s a good method for doing so?

The hardest part

What’s the hardest part of learning Chinese — reading, writing, speaking, or listening?

Ignoring 的

Native speakers (and writers) seem to ignore, or drop, the 的 (de) particle on occasion. When is this acceptable?

Improving your listening skills

For me, at least, comprehending spoken Chinese at native speeds is the most difficult part of my studies. Here are some suggestions for improving your listening comprehension:

Different kinds of “almost”

几乎 (jī hū) and 差点儿 (chà diǎn r) both mean “nearly” or “almost,” but have different connotations:

Nerves and divinity

If 神(shén) means God or the divine, then why does 神经 (shén jīng) mean “nerve”?

Book titles

When writing book titles in Chinese, you’re supposed to use special punctuation. What are these called in Chinese (and in English, for that matter), and where are they appropriate?

A few days before

The phrase 前几天 (qián jǐ tiān) means “a few days before.” How can you use it?

Using 分钟 (fēn zhōng)

If you’re talking about minutes (in terms of time), then must you use the entire word? Or can you just say 分?

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