Mandarin Weekly #91

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #91, with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Giveaway: “Hacking Chinese” ebook

Our latest giveaway is for Olle Linge’s “Hacking Chinese” book.  Want to enter? Just go to our giveaway page!

There are lots of resources out there for learning Chinese. But resources aren’t enough: You also need a strategy. A direction. A way of prioritizing your use of learning materials, so that you can achieve the greatest degree of fluency in the least amount of time.

Enter Olle Linge, whose site ”Hacking Chinese” is one of the best known, and most consistently excellent, sources for such strategies. Linge has learned Chinese, and has also learned how to teach Chinese — and along the way, has discovered and written about numerous techniques that can make your Chinese-learning experience faster, smoother, and more productive.

In his ebook, also called ”Hacking Chinese,” you get hundreds of pages full of practical advice for structuring your Chinese learning. How should you approach characters? How can you surround yourself with Chinese, even if you’re living outside of a Chinese-speaking country? What is the best way to practice your listening comprehension?

I learned a great deal from this book, and am sure that no matter what level of Chinese you have, you’ll gain a great deal from it, as well. That’s why I’m delighted to announce that we will be giving away three copies of the “Hacking Chinese” ebook.

If you’re already learning Chinese, but want to improve how you’re learning, then this is a great book to get. As with all of our giveaways, you get additional chances to win for every friend you get to enter! Share the giveaway with your friends, and increase your odds of getting this book.

If you want even more than the book, there’s a full-blown ”Hacking Chinese” video course. As an extra offer on top of this giveaway, Olle is offering Mandarin Weekly readers a discount of $10 from the course through Thursday, October 13th; just use the coupon code MANDARINWEEKLY to get the discount.

The giveaway ends on Monday, October 17th. Go to the giveaway page, and enter to receive one of three copies of the “Hacking Chinese” book.


Intermediate Have you seen what he’s wearing? Or how she talks about herself? Or what about that show-off in the marketing department? We all love to gossip, and with this vocabulary list, you’ll be able to gossip in Chinese in no time:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Come again?

Beginner So, you’ve learned some Chinese, you go to China, you start to speak with someone, and then (horrors!) they answer you. The problem? They are so impressed by your Chinese, that they speak at native speed, with word you haven’t yet learned. How can you ask someone to slow down, or tell them that you don’t understand?

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

Using 了 (le)

Beginner The use of 了 (le) can be difficult for many people learning Chinese. In this video from, we get additional insights into when and how to use 了 — this time, in describing things that are “too much”:

Twitter: @Mandarin_Monkey

Small talk

Intermediate When your Chinese gets good enough to start having simple conversations with friends and coworkers, you’ll need a stable of words and topics to include (and avoid). This post provides an introduction to small talk in Chinese:

Twitter: @YoYoChinese

Business etiquette

Going to have a meeting in China? Make sure you’re familiar with Chinese etiquette — what to say, who to greet (and how), and not to offend anyone by mistake. And of course, use the appropriate Chinese phrases:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Internet slang

Intermediate The Internet is, of course, causing many changes throughout the world. In China, one of those changes is the rapid introduction and use of new words. Here is a list of new words that have taken hold online:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Using 就 (jiù)

Beginner The word 就 (jiù) has many uses and meanings, and learning to use it can take some time. In this video from, we get an explanation and examples of how to use 就:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Character challenge

Olle Linge has a new challenge: Work on learning and reviewing as many characters as possible! Learn more, and sign up, here:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Improving your reading

How can and should you approach improving your Chinese reading?

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Other than that…

Intermediate Ever want to answer a question with a two-part answer? That second part will often start with, “besides…” In this post + video, we learn how to use 再说 (zài shuō) to connect two thoughts in this way:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

Add oil!

Beginner A phrase that you’re likely to hear is 加油 (jiā yóu). This literally means to “add oil,” but it is really used to talk about encouraging someone, or rooting for your favorite team. More on 加油 here:

Using 把 (bǎ)

Intermediate For many people learning Chinese, the 把 (bǎ) structure is daunting. How do we use it to alter the standard subject-verb-object word order?

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

“Erhua” words

Intermediate The Beijing dialect often adds an 儿 (er) sound to the ends of words. But which words? Here is a list of 100 words that end with 儿, which can help you to sound a bit more native:

Chinese calendar

You often hear about the “Chinese New Year” and “lunar months,” but what do those really mean? And why don’t they align with the standard (Gregorian) calendar we use? Here is an explanation, along with vocabulary to understand it better:

Twitter: @NihaoHello

Love in spring

Intermediate It might be autumn in the northern hemisphere, but here’s a song about love and springtime — with a video, pinyin, characters, and translation:

Twitter: @ChineseToLearn


Intermediate While Chinese verbs aren’t inflected, they can take a number of complements — characters and words that come afterward, which describe the action’s time, quantity, or direction:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly


Intermediate The words 周 (zhōu) and 星期 (xīng qī) can both mean “week.” What’s the difference between them?


Advanced What’s the difference between 摆 (bǎi) and 放(fàng)?

Chinese book club

Advanced Looking to read more in Chinese, and to discuss the book with others? This month, the Chinese book club is reading 蒙着眼睛的旅行者 by 朱岳

Only speaking Chinese

Beginner Is it possible to learn Chinese only as a spoken language, without learning to read and write it?


Beginner How can we say that we want to pour a liquid? As always, there are multiple ways to describe this action:

What mistakes do natives make?

Those of us learning Chinese make mistakes all of the time. But what mistakes do native speakers commonly make?

Using 刚 (gāng) and 了

Advanced If you want to say that you “just did X,” do you use 刚 (gāng) and also 了? Or is 刚 sufficient on its own?

Natives learning tones

Do native Chinese speakers learn the tones at school, at home (via conversation), or both?

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