Mandarin Weekly (每周中文) #114, 2017-March-20

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #114, a free newsletter with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Learning 了 (le)

Beginner One of the most confusing and difficult topics for students of Chinese is the use of 了. In this first of three videos from, we learn how 了 describes a change, and is not a simple marker of past tense:

Twitter: @ChinesePod

Math symbols

Intermediate Everyone knows that 2+2=4, but how do you say + and = in Chinese? Here’s a chart to help you out:

Scanning friends and bikes

Beginner The word 扫 (sǎo) means “to scan” — and nowadays, we can scan not only documents, but also people (in WeChat) and bicycle rentals:

I can, I want, I will

Intermediate Expressing the ideas that “I can” or “I want” or “I will” do something is a bit complex in Chinese; here is a complete guide to these verbs, and the ways in which they’re used:

Learning by playing

Games are fun — and if they can help you to learn Chinese, then that’s even better! Here’s a list of how you can use games to improve your Chinese:

Twitter: @HackingChinese

Street food

Beginner Everywhere you go in Chinese cities, you’ll find stands serving street food. What are they serving, and how do you ask for it in Chinese?

Family words

Beginner Chinese families have the same people as everyone else, but the names can be a bit more complex. Here is a family tree that can help you to learn those names:

Travel words

Beginner If you’re like me, then much of your Chinese involves needs when traveling — especially hotels and restaurants. Here is a useful list of words you can use in your travels:

Twitter: @Chelsea_bubbly


Beginner How well do you know your opposites in Chinese? Try this simple matching game, and see how you do!

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

Learning resources

Where can you go to improve your Chinese? Here is a list of some resources you can use to improve your reading, writing, speaking, and listening:

Twitter: @FluentU

Internet and gaming terms

Intermediate The Internet has spawned all sorts of words and phrases. Here is a list of some of the Chinese terms that people use:

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

Rules for a football pitch

Intermediate Maybe football isn’t your thing — but even so, you can learn a lot of good vocabulary from this description (in Chinese, of course) of the rules associated with making one:

A short joke

Beginner What weighs the most? A silly riddle for someone you love — assuming that they speak Chinese, of course:

Dictionary errors

Intermediate Writing a dictionary is hard, and writing a dictionary that translates between languages is even harder. Here are some errors that Carl Gene Fordham has found in Chinese-English dictionaries, which demonstrate the complexity of language:

Twitter: @carlfordham

Emphasis with 是 (shì)。。。的 (de)

Intermediate How do we emphasize things in Chinese? One common way is to use the 是。。。的 grammar pattern:

Keeping fit

Intermediate Are you keeping fit and healthy? Sleeping enough? Eating correctly? Check yourself (or your friends) with these sentences in Chinese:

Twitter: @eputonghua

Traditional story

Advanced A short traditional story about 后羿 (hòu yì):

Twitter: @imandarinpod

Don’t be so smug

Intermediate A short story that reminds us to plan ahead, rather than concentrate on what we’re doing right now:

Twitter: @imandarinpod

Using 让 (ràng)

Intermediate The term 让 can mean either “allow” or “ask,” which can lead to some ambiguity when translating from Chinese into English:

Also published on Medium.

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