Mandarin Weekly #81

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #81, links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Chinese colors

Maybe you can say basic colors like “red” and “blue.” But what about more complex color names, or (better yet) the cultural meanings that these colors often have in Chinese society? Here is an extensive list of such colors, and their meanings:

Twitter: @FluentU

Business Chinese

Many of us are studying Chinese so that we can use it in our work. But did you know that a number of words in spoken Chinese are not used as much in business settings? Here is a table of spoken vs. business Chinese terms, and how to improve your business-style speech and writing:

Free intro-Chinese book

Just starting to learn Chinese? Wondering what these “measure words” are that everyone is talking about? Here is a free downloadable e-book that introduces some basic vocabulary and sentence patterns, which undoubtedly would have helped me when I first started:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

US elections

Much of the world is looking at the upcoming US presidential elections. In this video, teaches us how to discuss them using Chinese:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Pokemon in Chinese

It’s hard to avoid hearing people talk about (or even playing “Pokemon Go”), a new game for mobile devices that is making a large number of people look like they out of their minds. How can you discuss Pokemon Go with your friends and colleagues in Chinese? Here is some “essential” Pokemon vocabulary in Chinese:

Twitter: @ninchanese

Using 好 with verbs

The word 好 (hǎo) is one of the first we all learn, but 好 can be used in a few other ways, including that something was well done, or pleasantly done:


Chinese, like all languages, has conjunctions (e.g., “and,” “or,” and “so”). But conjunctions in Chinese work differently from the other languages I’ve learned, and thus are likely to trip you up. Here is an introduction to the subject (in two parts), with some examples:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Days of the week

If you’re just starting to learn Chinese, then the days of the week might be a bit confusing for you. Here is a simple video lesson from

Twitter: @ChineseWithEmma

Funny Chinese signs

Anyone who has traveled to China has seen signs whose English is… well, a bit off. In this video from, we learn a bit about these signs, and not only get to laugh at them, but also understand how the translation might have made sense to a native Chinese speaker:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Chinese learning techniques

Olle Linge, of Hacking Chinese fame, has written before about how he became fluent in Chinese. In this installment, he describes graduate school and beyond, and provides tips for us to improve our knowledge of the language:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Don’t ask these questions

Westerners traveling in China are often asked the same questions, or told the same things. Guess what? It turns out that they often ask the same questions of Chinese people. Here are some such questions, and the reasons to avoid asking them:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Characters vs. words

Are all characters considered words?


What is the difference between 很 (hěn) and 是 (shì)。。。的 (de)? Are they the same?

Pronouncing 这个

One of the first things people learn in Chinese is to say 这个, or “this.” But how do you pronounce it; there seem to be a few different options, and is one more right than the other?

I’m busy right now

What does the word 有事 (yǒu shì) mean? And if it means “occupied,” how would you use it?

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