Mandarin Weekly #92

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #92, with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Reading Chinese

Beginner Some people say that reading Chinese is so difficult that it’s better to learn just to speak it. But reading Chinese brings numerous benefits, above and beyond being able to read signs in China and write to your friends and colleagues there. Here is a summary of the benefits, along with strategies for improving your reading:

Twitter: @FluentU

I want it!

Beginner There are two words that express wanting something in Chinese, 想 (xiǎng) and 要 (yào). When do we use each? This video, from, provides some good examples, to help us distinguish between them:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Tone problems

Ah, tones! They are so important in Chinese (because they affect a word’s meaning), but they’re so hard for non-native speakers to use. Even when you remember a word’s tone perfectly, instincts from your native language may creep in, affecting your tones. Here are seven tone problems, and some suggestions for how to avoid them:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Ongoing action

Intermediate How do you express ongoing action in Chinese? In English, we would use a verb ending with “ing.” In Chinese, it’s a bit more complex, but this video and post explain it quite well:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

How are you doing?

Beginner How can you ask someone how they’re doing in Chinese? There are a variety of options, as demonstrated in this short video:

Twitter: @MandarinHQ

New forum

Want to discuss Chinese in Chinese? Check out YapChina, a new forum in which people learning Chinese can try out their language skills:

Science fiction

Beginner How do you say “science fiction” in Chinese? Learn this, and about famous Chinese science fiction author 刘慈欣, (Cixin Liu), here:

Twitter: @ninchanese

Everyone complains about the weather…

Intermediate It’s typical for new students to learn the words for “rain” and “snow,” as well as “hot” and “cold.” But what if you dislike the weather? How can you complain about it in Chinese? Here is a useful guide, with vocabulary and examples:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Autumn foliage

Intermediate It’s autumn in China, which means that in many places, the leaves are turning colors. Here is a collection of beautiful autumn photographs, with the place names and descriptions in Chinese:

Surfing the waves

Intermediate How do you say “surfing” in Chinese? Not only does this give you a chance to learn a new word, but you can also see how words are formed:

Twitter: @ninchanese

You rock!

Intermediate A new, fun expression — and a cute story about how it was created:

Twitter: @ninchanese

Why? Because!

Beginner A short, but good, introduction to the construct 因为 (yīn wèi). . . 所以 (suǒ yǐ):

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

Try your luck

Intermediate Do you feel lucky? If you want to try your luck, you can use the phrase 碰碰运气 (pèng pèng yùn qì):

Measure words

Beginner What are measure words? How do we use them? And what are the most common measure words? This short video introduces the idea, and some examples:

Twitter: @HanbridgeOnline

的, 地, and 得

Beginner These three characters are all pronounced “de,” and they all help to modify other words. But how do we use each of them?

Twitter: @HanbridgeOnline

Stood someone up?

Intermediate Did you fail to show up for a meeting? Here’s a great phrase in Chinese that you can use to describe it:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly

Working in Chinese

Many people learn Chinese so that they can use it in their work. But what do you need to do in order to get to that point, to have enough Chinese fluency in order to use it every day, in a job? An interesting collection of experiences:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

80% comprehension

Advanced We might think that at the 80% comprehension level, we can figure out the rest from context. But it turns out that if we don’t understand 20%, we are missing out on a lot, as John Pasden demonstrates:

Visiting Xi’an

Traveling to China? You might want to stop in 西安 (xī ān), an ancient city with many interesting things to see. Here’s a photo tour with Xi’an-related vocabulary:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Ticket scalpers

Beginner How do you describe scalping tickets in Chinese? As oxen, of course! The full story, along with examples of how to use this word, are here:

Twitter: @ECLSchool

Chinese languages

Is Chinese a language? A set of languages? A family of dialects? These questions are common among newcomers to Chinese, but also among natives. What’s not debated is the fact that there are many dialects, each of which is spoken in a different area of China. Here is a map and discussion of where each dialect is spoken, and some details about it:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Improve your memory, improve your Chinese

Learning Chinese requires memorizing a lot of stuff. If you can improve your memory, then your Chinese will probably improve as well, right? In this video from, a memory master suggests some ways that you can improve your recall, and thus improve your Chinese more quickly:

Twitter: @ChinesePod



“in” vs. “ing” endings

Do native Chinese speakers distinguish significantly between the “in” and “ing” endings? If so, where and how?

Saying “again”

Intermediate The words 再 (zài) and 又 (yòu) both mean “again,” but are used differently. How?

Bothering you

Beginner Why would I use the phrase 麻烦你 (má fan nǐ)?

哥 or 哥哥?

Beginner The word 哥哥 (gē) means “older brother,” but you can also say just “哥.” What’s the difference?

Using 成语

Intermediate 成语 (chéng yǔ) are four-character expressions. They can be interesting and even poetic, but how often are they really used in conversation?

Computer words

Intermediate If you work in the computer industry and want to know technology-related terms, here is a discussion of where you can find them:

Words your teacher never taught you

What are some cool words you’ve learned, but which you aren’t likely to learn in class? This discussion raised some fun ones:

Also published on Medium.

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