samedi 15 novembre 2008


Dialogue Text:

【Dialog】(repeat twice and slowly)
老外: 这条围巾多少钱?
老外: 太贵了,能不能便宜点儿?
老外: 好吧,我要一条。

Meimei: When you bargain with venders, you can say "太贵了,能不能便宜点儿?" to ask a discount. When you have got a discount, but you want to get more, you can say "能不能再便宜点儿?" it means "can you make it lower than that?"
Laowai: 能不能再便宜点儿?If I want know the lowest price, how can I say that Chinese?
Meimei: You can say "最少多少钱?" "最少" means "at least". Sometimes, the venders may say "最少40块。" "the bottom price is 40 yuan."
Laowai: Can I give the venders a price when bargaining?
Meimei: Of course, you can. You can say "30块怎么样", "how about 30 yuan?"
Laowai: Meimei, how about 30 yuan for a scarf? 贵吗?
Meimei: 一条围巾30块。I think it is fine with me.
Laowai: I will buy it at 30 yuan. Thank you for teaching me so much.
Meimei: 不客气。


dimanche 10 août 2008

Translations gone awry

快乐 (kuai4 le4) This means "happiness" in chinese. It's used generally to describe happiness. However, just like English, there are variations, to describe the degree of happiness and different types of happiness.

For example, "高兴" (gao1 xing4) would mean "happy" as in "I am happy with my job". In order to exaggerate the degree of happiness, one can use "快乐如神仙" (kuai4 le4 ru2 shen2 xian1) and this means to be as happy as an immortal.

Apparently, the owner of this place tried to get an English translation for the words 餐厅 (can1 ting1) but got an error message instead and didn't realise it. 餐厅 literally means Canteen or dining place.

I have no idea how they managed to get such a translation! But what the words "生鲜超市" (sheng1 xian1 chao1 shi4) literally means is "live" and fresh supermarket. Maybe what it really means is that it's a supermarket that sells really fresh goods.

jeudi 7 août 2008

祝词 (greetings)

祝词 (zhu4 ci2) are congratulatory phrases, greetings or general phrases that wishes well. They are normally made up of just four words. Sometimes people may also use phrases quoted from scholars in the past. Such phrases come in handy when writing greeting cards. However, it is important to know what they really mean, so as not to use them inappropriately.

Here are some examples:

For Students/Children:
学业进步 (xue2 ye4 jin4 bu4): May your studies improve constantly
快高长大 (kuai4 gao1 zhang3 da4): May you grow up fast and tall

For working adults:
步步高升 (bu4 bu4 gao1 sheng1): May you be promoted fast
马到成功 (ma3 dao4 cheng2 gong1): Success will be here soon

For elders:
福如东海,寿比南山 (fu2 ru2 dong1 hai3, shou4 bi3 nan2 shan1)
May you have prosperity as great as the Eastern sea and longevity as great as the Southern mountain.
身体健康 (shen1 ti2 jian4 kang1): Good health always

General well wishes:
万事如意 (wan4 shi4 ru2 yi4): May everything go smoothly for you
心想事成 (xing1 xiang3 shi4 cheng2): May everything that you wish for come true

vendredi 1 août 2008

词 2

Here are new examples of 词, containing the words 日 (ri4) and 雪 (xue3).

日 (ri4): sun, day

日报 (ri4 bao4): daily newspaper
Literal translation: sun/day-report

日本 (ri4 ben3): Japan
Lit: Sun-(measure word for Books)

日常 (ri4 chang2): daily, usual
Lit: Day-often

日出 (ri4 chu1): sunrise
Lit: Sun-out

日记 (ri4 ji4): Diary
Lit: Day-remember

日内瓦 (ri4 nei4 wa3): Geneva
Lit: Day-Inside-Tile
Note: For countries' names, usually the chinese names are made to sound like the English one, hence, the meaningless literal translation of the words.

雪 (xue3): snow

雪白 (xue3 bai2): White as snow
Lit: Snow-White

雪崩 (xue3 beng1): avalanche
Lit: Snow-break-apart

雪恨 (xue3 hen4): Hatred to be avenged
Lit: Snow-hate

雪花 (xue3 hua1): Snowflakes
Lit: Snow-flower

雪人 (xue3 ren2): Snowman
Lit: Snow-people

雪山 (xue3 shan1): Snow Mountain
Lit: Snow-mountain

雪中送炭 (xue3 zhong1 song4 tan1): (Figuratively) Timely assistance
Lit: Snow-in-send-coal (Sending coal when it's snowing)

vendredi 25 juillet 2008

Poem 诗 (shi1)

The author of this poem is Bai Juyi (白居易), he lived between 772- 846AD. He uses very simple language, and is therefore most people can understand his poems easily.

Literal Translation:
Part part plain on grass
One year one wither flourish
Prairie fire burn not destroy
Spring wind blow again life
Distant fragrance invade old path
Clear emerald meet ruined town
Again see off noble friend go
Crowded full parting feeling

The grass is spreading out across the plain,
Each year, it dies, then flourishes again.
It's burnt but not destroyed by prairie fires,
When spring winds blow they bring it back to life.
Afar, its scent invades the ancient road,
Its emerald green overruns the ruined town.
Again I see my noble friend depart,
I find I'm crowded full of parting's feelings.

vendredi 18 juillet 2008

词 (ci2)

Words in Chinese are called 词,they often come in pairs to mean one thing. Sometimes when a 词 is taken apart, the individual words may have meanings that are vastly different from what they would mean when they are together.

Here are some examples of 词 that contain the word 好 (hao3).
好 : good, right; excellent.

好吃 (hao3 chi1): Delicious.
Literal translation: Good-Eat

好处 (hao3 chu4): Benefit, advantage.
Lit: Good-place/area

好感 (hao3 gan3): Good impression.
Lit: Good-Feeling

好久 (hao3 jiu3): a long time.
Lit: Good-Longtime

好像 (hao3 xiang4): Look alike.
Lit: Good-alike

好笑 (hao3 xiao4): Funny.
Lit: Good-Laugh

好在 (hao3 zai4): Fortunately; thanks to
Lit: Good-Here/Present

好转 (hao3 zhuan3): Turn for the better.
Lit: Good-Turn

Here are some examples of 词 that contain the word 太 (tai4).
太: too, over; excessive.

太多 (tai4 duo1): Too many
Lit: Too-many

太后 (tai4 hou4): Empress Dowager
Lit: Too-Back

太监 (tai4 jian4): Eunuch
Lit: Too-watch (as in 'watchmen')

太空 (tai4 kong1): Outerspace
Lit: Too-Empty

太平 (tai4 ping2): Peace
Lit: Too-Flat

太太 (tai4 tai4): Madam
Lit: Too-Too

太子 (tai4 zi3): Crowned prince
Lit: Too-Son

lundi 7 juillet 2008

Chinese Festivals --- "Valentine's Day"

The Double Seventh Festival, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, is a traditional festival full of romance. It often goes into August in the Gregorian calendar.

Scholars have shown the Double Seventh Festival originated from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD220). Historical documents from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD371-420) mention the festival, while records from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) depict the grand evening banquet of Emperor Taizong and his concubines. By the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties, special articles for the "Qi Xi" were seen being sold on markets in the capital. The bustling markets demonstrated the significance of the festival.

Today some traditional customs are still observed in rural areas of China, but have been weakened or diluted in urban cities. However, the legend of the Cowhand and Weaver Maid has taken root in the hearts of the people. In recent years, in particular, urban youths have celebrated it as Valentine's Day in China. As a result, owners of flower shops, bars and stores are full of joy as they sell more commodities for love.

This festival is often associated with the story of Cowherd and Weaver Girl. 7th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar is the day when they meet each other every year. This is where their love story led to this day into becoming Qi Xi. On wikipedia there are two short summaries on two versions of the legend.

Dragon Boat Festival

Most Chinese traditional festivals were created during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), by the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), they were relatively firmly rooted in the Chinese culture already. Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), was ancient China's most prosperous period and traditional festivals became more than just primitive sacrifice and became more entertaining.

The festival I'm going to highlight here would be the "Dragon Boat festival" or called 端午节 (duan1 wu3 jie2).

Legend has it that the festival commemorates the life and especially the death of Qu Yuan (c. 340-278 B.C.), the first great poet in Chinese history. He lived during the Warring States period (a time when China was divided into several warring kingdoms) and was a high-ranking official in the state of Chu. At that time his homeland was under siege by another powerful state called Qin. The king of Chu did not recognize Qu Yuan’s correct stand or appreciate his suggestions for saving their country. What is more, treacherous officials slandered him, and at last he was sent into exile. On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, when he heard news that the capital of Chu had fallen into enemy hands, he threw himself into the Miluo River (in present-day Hunan province) and drowned.

What is the connection between Qu Yuan and dragon boats?
(I’ll get to zongzi later.) Qu Yuan, a great patriot, was loved by the people. When villagers heard he had thrown himself into the river, they rushed in their boats to try to save him, but they were too late. Dragon boat races commemorate their rescue attempt.

During the festival, people make rice dumplings too. According to some legends, these rice dumplings were thrown into the river, in hope to distract the fishes so that they will not feed on Qu Yuan's body. Another legend says that the people offered zongzi as sacrifices to the soul of Qu Yuan. To prevent the food from being eaten by animals, they wound it with brightly colored thread, which they believed would scare away dragons and other aquatic beasts.

The reason why this festival has been carried on for centuries even though the times of dynastic rulings have long been gone, is because in the Chinese culture, we still hold on to values like "patriotism" and "loyalty" strongly. These two values are embedded in Qu Yuan's story, hence, the continued celebrations and commemorations of this day every year.

vendredi 27 juin 2008

Quotable Quotes

wu2 sheng1 ye2 you3 ya2, er2 zhi1 ye2 wu2 ya2

Life is finite,
While knowledge is infinite.
---- Zhuang Zi

zhi1 zhi1 wei2 zhi1 zhi1, bu4 zhi1 wei2 bu4 zhi1 ye3

If you know, recognize that you know,
If you don't know, then realize that you don't know:
That is knowledge.
True knowledge is when one knows the limitations of one's knowledge.
--- Confucius

ji3 suo3 bu2 yu4 wu4 shi1 yu2 ren2

What you do not wish upon yourself,
extend not to others.

Analect ( Lun Yu ) - Confucius 15:24 and 12:5

Taken from:

For Fun~!

Click on "Handwrite characters" and see what appears~! It's really fun! Give it a try.

dimanche 22 juin 2008

A small bit of Chinese Culture

Tea Session
This form of the art of brewing and drinking tea is appreciated by many people, including non-Chinese. Many people are enthusiastic about the art of tea; they enjoy not only the taste of Chinese tea, but also the process of brewing it. The tea culture involved is attractive besides for the relaxation it generates, allowing them to purportedly forget all the trouble in their life during the process of brewing, serving and drinking tea. Some people enjoy serving others with a cup of tea not just because they want to share their excellent tea but also their peace of mind with others.

But, beware of Beijing Teahouse Scam(s)
Sadly, con artists and some tea houses in tourism hotspots in Shanghai and Beijing are increasingly taking advantage of the fascination with tea culture by luring foreigners into overpriced tea ceremonies. Generally be sure to negotiate the price of a commercial Tea Ceremony before you participate or you may be in for an expensive surprise.

Taken from:

Ribbon Dance
Red Ribbon Dance is the symbol of happiness. It originated from Chinese opera and has been preserved for centuries. It has become a traditional dance to perform during festivals.


Calligraphy set
The paper, ink, brush, and inkstone are essential implements of East Asian calligraphy: they are known together as the Four Treasures of the Study (T: 文房四寶 / S: 文房四宝) in China, and as the Four Friends of the Study (HG: 문방사우 / HJ: 文房四友) in Korea. In addition to these four tools, desk pads and paperweights are also used by calligraphers.

Types of Calligraphy:
Seal script(Small seal) 篆书 Zhuànshū
Clerical script (Official script) 隶书 Lìshu
Semi-cursive script(Running script) 行书 Xíngshū
Cursive script (Grass script) 草书 Cǎoshū
Regular script (Standard script) 楷书 Kǎishū

vendredi 13 juin 2008


yu4 bu4 zhuo2, bu4 cheng2 qi4.
ren2 bu4 xue2, bu4 cheng2 cai2.
Meaning: Jade must be carved and polished before it becomes an ornament, man must be educated before he can achieve great things.


ni4 shui3 xing2 zhou1, bu2 jin4 ze2 tui4.
Meaning: When rowing a boat against the current, if one does not move forward, one will definitely end up moving backwards. (Can be used to describe surviving in an increasingly competitive world.)

cun4 jin1 nan2 mai3 cun4 guang1 yin1.
Meaning: An inch of time is an inch of gold but you can't buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.

liu2 zhe4 qing1 shan1 zai4, bu2 pa4 mei2 chai2 shao1.
Meaning: As long as the mountains remain, there's no need to fear that there'll be no firewood. (Can be used on humans; talking about as long as one is alive, there will always be new opportunities.)

vendredi 6 juin 2008


百年树人 bai3 nian2 shu4 ren2
Lit: Hundred-years-tree-person
Meaning: It takes a hundred years to groom talents and it is an ardous task.
Sentence formation: 十年树木,百年树人,培养人才需要长期的努力。

光明正大 guang1 ming2 zheng4 da4
Lit: Light-clear-straight-big
Meaning: Open and aboveboard.
Sentence formation: 我们做事光明正大,不怕别人说闲话。

各有千秋 ge4 you3 qian1 qiu1
Lit: Each-has-thousand-autumns
Meaning: Each has his strong points.
Sentence formation: 这两幅画各有千秋,不知道你喜欢哪个风格?

一发千钧 yi2 fa4 qian1 jun1
Lit: one-hair-thousand-weights
Meaning: Imminent peril (Everything hanging by a single strand of hair)
Sentence formation: 在这种一发千钧的时刻,请不要鲁莽行事。

画龙点睛 hua4 long2 dian3 jing1
Lit: Draw-dragon-dot-eyes
Meaning: Bring the painted dragons to life, by putting pupils in their eyes
Origins of this idiom:
During the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589 AC), once lived a famous painter named Zhang Seng-Zuong. He was highly praised for his fine art by Emperor Liang Wu.

One year, Zhang Seng-Zuong was asked to paint on the wall of the temple of Andong. He almost finished the painting of four dragons, in which they were breaking into a gallop in clouds. Everybody appreciated the vivid dragons on the wall. "But," asked one man," why didn't you put in the pupils of their eyes?" "Well, they will fly away if the pupils are put in." answered Zhang Seng-Zuong. But nobody believed him. They took what he said for jokes, so they still appealed to him to paint the pupils in the eyes.

At their request, Zhang Seng-Zuong had to take up his paintbrush to begin his troublesome work. After a moment of hesitation, Zhang dotted the key part of the dragons resolutely. Two of the dragons suddenly precipitated into a cloud of rolls of thunder and lightning before he could drop the paintbrush. The crowd was disordered into a mess; some lay themselves on the stomach, and some hid themselves behind pillars. A loud crash was heard and the wall toppled into pieces in the middle. The dragons writhed for a while and flew away high in the sky. Fortunately the two without pupils still remained there on the wall peacefully.

The proverb, 'Bring the painted dragons to life, by putting pupils in their eyes' now is usually adopted to indicate the case that a person can make his speech or composition smartly lively just with only a few pointed key words or expressions.

兵不厌诈 bing1 bu4 yan4 zha4 +(典故)
Lit: Soldier-not-hate-cheat
Meaning: There can never be too much deception in war.
Sentence formation: 所谓兵不厌诈,在谈判前多做几种准备,才会更有把握。
Origins of this idiom:
In 383 AD, King Fu Jian of the state of Qianqin in North China led an army of 870,000 men to invade the Eastern Jin (317-420). Emperor Xiaowu ordered three generals, Xie Shi, Xu Yan and Xie Xuan, to lead 80,000 warriors to resist the invaders.

In November, the enemy reached the Fei River in Eastern Jin and began to set up defenses at the riverside. Across the river was Eastern Jin's troop. As there was a great disparity of strength, Xie and his comrades in arms had hardly any hope of victory if they started a face-to-face battle. Then they had an idea. They sent a herald to take a message to Fu Rong, the king's major general, "You are setting up defenses along the river, so it is quite obvious that you are planning for a long war. But as you are far from your country and supplies cannot be timely guaranteed, you are no doubt putting yourselves in a very disadvantageous situation. Why don't you let your troop retreat a few hundred yards so that we can cross the river to fight a decisive battle with you?"

This message was taken to King Fu Jian. He laughed and said, "How silly those generals are! How dare they wade across the river to fight against a troop of 870,000 men! They surely overrate themselves. Let's retreat so that they can come across. But we will return and wipe them out when they are in the middle of the river."

The retreat started. In a few seconds, there suddenly came a roaring cry from behind, "The king is defeated!" As the purpose of the action had not been properly declared, many men mistakenly believed that they were truly defeated. Therefore, they ran faster until the whole troop became beyond control. The Jin's troop immediately crossed the river and attacked the enemy from behind. General Fu Rong attempted to give a counterattack, but it was too late. His troop was already in a thorough confusion and no one would hear his order. This invading Titanic was at last sunk by a much smaller group of fighters.

King Fu Jian's mistake lies in the fact that he only knew that an army in water is easy to defeat. Yet, he should have also known that when two armies confront each other, the one who first retreats tends to lose.

jeudi 15 mai 2008

Spot the difference!

Each stroke and its length in Chinese characters are very important. They can produce a totally different meaning if they were written wrongly. There are examples below to show how vastly different the meanings can end up to be:

ri4 (sun)

yue1 (say)

日 and 曰 are essentially made up of the exactly the same strokes but one of them is thinner and taller than the other. Hence, the importance of writing the characters to the correct size is crucial in such words. There are more examples below that are self-explanatory. Some words end up having opposite meanings because of the lengthening of a single stroke.

wei4 (have not)

mo4 (end)

未 stands for the future when used in the context of 未来 wei4 lai2 (have not - come). But when used in the context of 未做完 wei4 zuo4 wan2 (have not - do - finish), it can be taken as 'have not' and it would mean "haven't finish doing".

dao1 (knife)

li4 (strength)

刀 can be used in Chinese proverbs like 拔刀相助 ba2 dao1 xiang1 zhu4 (pluck - knife - each other - help); it means to whip out one's knife to help those in need. In modern terms, it simply means to help each other when in need.
力 can be used in proverbs like 力不从心 li4 bu4 cong2 xin1 (strength - not - from - heart); it means that strength to help does not come from the heart alone. It is normally used in contexts when one would like to do something, but does not have the means to.

tu3 (soil)

shi4 (soldier)

土 can be used in phrases like 水土不合 shui3 tu3 bu4 he2 (water - soil - not - compatible); it does NOT mean that water and soil doesn't go together. When taken in a phrase as such, it means that one is unable to adapt to the enviromental conditions of a foreign place.
士 can be used together with 兵 (bing1) to mean 'soldier' as well. 士兵 = soldier.

mercredi 14 mai 2008

Ancient Chinese Texts

The earliest records of writings of the origins of the Chinese language are not from bone oracles (as many would believe it to be), they are actually from ancient tombs that contained potteries with inscriptions on them that resembled words on bone oracles. These potteries antedated oracle bones by about more than 1,000 years. They are called “pictographs” and showed resemblance to scripts. Hence, Chinese is not an alphabetic language, but a script of ideograms.

Over many thousand years of China’s history, the written Chinese language had changed tremendously; from pictographs that might vary to the standardized words that we see now. Especially with the rise of print capitalism, Chinese words are standardized and even simplified (see below).

However, it is through these gradual changes, many Chinese characters lost their visual meaning. Some words cannot be identified to be associated to what it means as a whole word through looking at its radicals or phonetic complexes.

Words that still contain meaning through visual means:
凹 ao1 (concave)
凸 tu1 (convex)
山 shan1 (mountain)
一 yi1 (one)
二 er4 (two)
三 san1 (three)

An example that has no visual links:
默 mo4 (silence), made up of 黑 hei1 and 犬 quan3 (black and dog)

Chinese words and their components

Chinese words are often made up of several components and each of them sometimes has meanings on their own. Here is an example:

Sometimes, by recognizing each of the components, one might be able to get a hint of what the word mean. Especially by looking at the radicals, it is easy to classify the word and to determine what is it associated with.

For example: “你”,“他”,“们”
The radical of the two words shown above is “standing person”, hence we can recognize that the words are associated with humans.

Another example: “脑”,“脚”,“腿”
The word“月”when used as a radical, refers to “flesh”. Hence most words that refer to the human anatomies are often written with a “月”radical.

Can you figure out what these words are associated with (if you don't know them yet)?
地铁 (di4 tie3)
垃圾 (la1 ji1)

However, not all words are associated as such.

Some phrases did not exist in the Chinese dictionary until they were invented due to the need to create a Chinese name for a foreign item. An example would be the above picture that shows “Sprite” in Chinese (left can). In Chinese it is read as “xue3 bi4”.

The word “chocolate” did not exist in the Chinese dictionary until the introduction of chocolate to the Chinese people. (Just for fun: The first people known to make chocolate were from Mexico and Central America, it was later spreaded further through the Spanish conquistadors.) A sound-adaptation of the English word “chocolate” was created and hence, in Chinese, chocolate is 巧克力 (qiao3 ke1 li4). Such words are termed "loanwords". (外来词 wai4 lai2 ci2)

mardi 13 mai 2008

Having Fun with Chinese

There’s an interesting website that I found, it’s all about modern and traditional China, travel, study, news, business, Chinese learning material, tools and resources, forum and language exchange club.

By beakee on Flickr

One can even type one’s name and get it translated into Chinese~! Though not all names are available for translation, there’s still quite a wide range available. There are various bilingual dictionaries available; however, to those with basic grasp of Chinese may still face difficulties. Fret not, use it as a tool to guide your learning process and you can always double check with your tutor.

People sometimes find it difficult to learn Chinese because it’s all memory work. It is pretty different from other languages such as English or Korean, because the words show no hints as to how it is pronounced. Due to the increasing cross cultural flows, people are picking up foreign languages like never before; hence, many languages have a Romanized version to aid learning. However, one cannot learn Chinese through Romanizing the words only.

By think cink on Flickr

If not, it might end up like this:

1. That's not right - Sum Ting Wong (Something wrong)
The correct way of saying it should be: 有点不对 you3 dian3 bu2 dui4

2. Are you harbouring a fugitive? - Hu Yu Hai Ding (Who you hiding)
The correct way of saying it should be: 你是不是偷藏通缉犯?
ni2 shi4 bu2 shi4 tou1 cang2 tong1 ji1 fan4?

(Taken from

The above is meant to be a joke (to be read with a false-Chinese accent), created by somebody who posted on the forums of Chinese-tools.

It is important to get the basics right in learning Chinese, which means putting in some effort to memorize words. Once you get past the first few stages of learning, everything else would become easier.

vendredi 25 avril 2008

Just for Chats

Just for Chats

Learning Mandarin during lesson is essential but practice what you have learnt in class is even more important. This is because we wish that you could ultimately use Mandarin to interact with any one, not just with your teacher. Hence, Da Jia Hao has launched a new program, “Just for Chats”.

“Just for Chats” will take place in a non-formal, casual setting. You can choose to go to your favorite café, restaurant, or just a tea session at your residence or office with you friendly conversational teacher and start polishing your Mandarin conversational skills. You may even bring a friend to join us.

We can chat about anything, about living in Singapore, the best Laksa in town, next vacation destination in the region and the list goes on. Level of difficulty will be largely based on what you have learnt in class or beyond if you like more challenges. We will correct your mistakes to the finest bit, as we believe in upholding high standards and we take pride to be your learning partners. Materials will be provided as the topic of conversation.

There is no commitment in this program. If you feel like having a session to fill an afternoon, just make an appointment with your conversational teacher*. We welcome others too even if you are not doing any course with us.

“Just for Chats” is an informal yet objective orientated program brought to you be Da Jia Hao Chinese. Contact us now.

*Minimum duration for each session will be 1 hour. For the first hour it will be $40 and $25 per each half an hour thereafter. An invoice will be sent to you end of every month, there is no need for advance payment. There will be no extra charges for bringing another friend along.

jeudi 17 avril 2008

Answering "Yes" and "No" in Mandarin

"Have you done your homework?"
"Are you the boss of this company?"
"This bus goes to Orchard Road, am I right?"
"Darling, is my cooking delicious today?"

The answer to all these question can be either "Yes" or "No" in English. However, in Mandarin, it is not so simple. Let's look at the following examples to see the various ways of saying "yes" and "No" in Mandarin.

1. 你做功课了吗?
ni3 zuo4 gong1 ke4 le ma
Have you done your homework?

zuo4 le
Yes, I have done it.
hai2 mei2 zuo4
No, not yet.

2. 你会汉语吗?
ni3 hui4 han4 yu3 ma
Do you know Mandarin?

wo3 hui4
Yes, I know.

wo3 bu2 hui4.
No, I don't know.

3. 你是这间公司的老板吗?
ni3 shi4 zhe4 gong1 si1 de lao2 ban3 ma
Are you the boss of this company?

wo3 shi4
Yes, I am.

shi4 de

wo3 bu2 shi4
No, I am not.

bu2 shi4.

4. 这辆巴士去乌节路是吗?
zhe4 liang3 ba1 shi4 qu4 wu1 jie2 lu4 shi4 ma
Does this bus go to Orchard Road?

shi4 de

bu2 bu4

5. 亲爱的,我今天煮的菜好吃吗?
qin1 ai4 de, wo3 jin1 tian1 zhu3 de cai4 hao3 chi1 ma
Darling, is my cooking delicious today?

hao3 chi1, dang1 ran2 hao3 chi1
Yes, delicious, of course they are delicious.

hao3 chi1 ji2 le
It is fabulous.

No, it's not delicious.

hen3 nan2 chi1
It tastes awful.

It tastes awful to the extent that I feel like dying.

6. 这个字对吗?
zhe4 ge4 zi4 dui4 ma
Is this work correct?

Yes, correct

bu2 dui4
No, it's not correct.

cuo4 le
No, it is wrong.

7. 你想喝咖啡吗?
ni2 xiang3 he1 ka1 fei1 ma
Would you like some coffee?

hao3 a, xie4 xie
Yes, please.

bu2 yong4 le, xie4 xie
No, thank you.

8. 我们去吃饭好吗?
wo3 men2 qu4 chi1 fan4 hao3 ma
Shall we go for lunch?

hao3 a

xie4 ci4 ba
Let's do it next time.

There are also many other ways of answering a question, such as to answer questions in a skillful way in a social setting. It will make your answer more polite, less direct and fits well in the Chinese society. Here are some examples.

samedi 5 avril 2008

Chinese Pinyin


For the every first few lessons of my Chinese courses, my students and I will work seriously on the Chinese pinyin. It is because pinyin is the gateway to accurate Chinese pronunciation. In fact, even at any point of the course, we sometimes need to revisit pinyin to keep us on track.

It is a common scene on TV where a foreigner is speaking Mandarin with all the four tones mixed up, making him look funny and stupid. We are not going to allow this to happen.

Here is an excellent site on pinyin and it is actually a big chapter on its own. It is extremely useful if you wish to check certain pronunciation of some words or practice by yourselves because I am not always there to correct your pinyin pronunciation by your side. You can test yourselves in pinyin as well and it is really useful. A million thanks to the person created it. Have fun.

dimanche 30 mars 2008


Chinesepod is a series of podcast discussing the Chinese culture. They come with a dialogue in Mandarin, followed by explanation both in Mandarin and English. I find the dialogue and explanation very lively, very close to the real situations compared to other Chinese podcasts which can be unnatural and not as practical on daily use basis. Enjoy!

jeudi 27 mars 2008

Strokes, Stroke order and Radicals

Yesterday I was teaching my students about names of the Chinese strokes, the stroke orders and proportion of the different components of the Chinese characters. They are really important fundamentals in learning Chinese. Here is a site where you can find out more about them.

samedi 22 mars 2008

World Languages Podcasting

World Languages Podcasting is a podcasting website where you can find conversations in Mandarin. They talk about Australia in Mandarin. You can download the audio files and play them in your MP3 player while you are on the go. You can also pay a small amount to get a copy of the transcript. They are pretty interesting.

jeudi 20 mars 2008

Singapore Primary School Chinese Online Material

This is an interactive online learning site where you can access Chinese materials from grade one to grade six of the primary school syllabus in Singapore. They include text, audio, pinyin and interesting animations. Check it out and start learning Chinese!