Sunday, December 18, 2011

Everything you need to know about China

Sorry I haven't been able to post in a long time. I just moved to a new country, actually a new continent, and haven't really had a chance to write any new posts. I am still in the process of getting settled in my new home, but I thought I would share a video in the meantime. While it might be hard to understand at times, this video is definitely worth a watch. Hope you like it.

And I promise that I will start posting regularly again.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Measure words: 张 (zhāng) and 条 (tiáo)

As promised earlier, today we will look at two more measure words in Chinese language, (zhāng) and (tiáo) in more detail. So here we go:


(zhāng) is a measure word most commonly used for objects with flat surfaces. Few examples:

一张纸 (yī zhāng zhǐ): a piece of paper

一张桌子 (yī zhāng zhuōzi): a table

一张床 (yī zhāng chuáng): a bed

(zhāng) can also be used with objects that can be opened and closed:

一张嘴 (yī zhāng zuǐ): a mouth

一张弓 (yī zhāng gōng): a bow


(tiáo) is a measure word most commonly used for elongated objects. Few examples:

两条腿 (liǎng tiáo tuǐ): two legs

一条路 (yī tiáo lù): a road

一条河 (yī tiáo hé): a river

(tiáo) is also used to quantify some animals

两条鱼 (liǎng tiáo yú): a fish

一条蛇 (yī tiáo shé): a snake

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Measure words: 只 (zhī) and 顶 (dǐng)

Couple of posts ago, we watched a video to learn about the measure words in Chinese language, and looked at the most common measure word, (gè), in more detail. In the same post I also introduced few other measure words, (zhī) (zhāng) (tiáo) and (dǐng). Today let’s learn when and how to use the measure words (zhī) and (dǐng).


(zhī) is a measure word most commonly used to quantify one of a pair. Few examples:

两只眼睛 (liǎng zhī yǎnjīng): two eyes

两只手 (liǎng zhī shǒu): two hands

一只鞋 (yī zhī xié): one shoe

It is also used to quantify animals, boats and containers:

一只鸡 (yī zhī jī): one chicken

一只船 (yī zhī chuan): one boat

两只箱子 (liǎng zhī xiāngzi): two suitcases


(dǐng) is a measure word for something with a top. It is most commonly used to quantify hats, caps. Few examples:

一顶帽子 (yī dǐng màozi): a hat

一顶帐子 (yī dǐng zhàngzi): a mosquito net

I hope this post was helpful on learning about the usage of measure words (zhī) and (dǐng). Next post we will look at the measure words (zhāng) and (tiáo) in more detail.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chinese relationship tree

I guess we never talked about how to call the different family members in Chinese language. Below I have tried to create a simple Chinese family structure. It shows the Chinese terms for the most immediate family members. Hope this is helpful.

[Click to expand]

Just in case you can't read the above picture properly, I have listed them below:

爷爷 (yéye): Grandfather (father’s father)

奶奶 (nǎinai): Grandmother (father’s mother)

外公 (wàigōng): Grandfather (mother’s father)

外婆 (wàipó): Grandmother (mother’s mother)

爸爸 (bàba): Father

妈妈 (māma): Mother

伯伯 (bóbo): Uncle (father’s older brother)

叔叔 (shūshu): Uncle (father’s younger brother)

婶婶( shěnshen): Aunt (father’s sister)

舅舅 (jiùjiu): Uncle (mother’s brother)

姨妈 (yímā): Aunt (mother’s sister)

哥哥 (gēge): Older brother

嫂子 (sǎozi): Sister in law (Older brother’s wife)

姐姐 (jiějie): Older sister

姐夫 (jiěfu): Brother in law (Older sister’s husband)

弟弟 (dìdi): Younger brother

弟妹 (dìmèi): Sister in law (Younger brother’s wife)

妹妹 (mèimei): Younger sister

妹夫 (mèifu): Brother in law (Younger sister’s husband)

(wǒ): Me

爱人 (àirén): Spouse

儿子 (érzi): Son

女儿 (nǚ'ér): Daughter

孙子(sūnzi): Grandson (Son’s son)

孙女 (sūnnǚ): Granddaughter (Son’s daughter)

外孙 (wàisūn): Grandson (Daughter’s son)

外孙女 (wàisūnnǚ): Granddaughter (Daughter’s daughter)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Measure words in Chinese language

I know I have already used this video before. I am going to use it again, but this time for a different reason.

Other than the body parts what else did you notice? Yes, the measure words. (gè) (zhǐ) (zhāng) (tiáo) (dǐng) are all measure words. Measure words are used in the Chinese language when using numbers to quantify people or things. Numbers cannot be directly attached to nouns. They take the following structure:

Number + Measure Word + Noun

The most widely used measure word is (gè), and it is most commonly used to quantify people:

一个人 (yī gè rén): one person

两个朋友 (liǎng gè péngyǒu): two friends

三个老师 (sān gè lǎoshī): three teachers

(gè) however is not only used to quantify people, it is also used to quantify other objects. Few examples:

一个土豆 (yī gè tǔdòu): a potato

五个汉字 (wǔ gè hànzì): five Chinese characters

六个大学 (liù gè dàxué): six universities

两个地方 (liǎng gè dìfāng): two places

This post is a brief introduction of measure words. I will be writing more posts in the future introducing new measure words and how to use them.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

It’s too expensive!!!

We have already learned how to say It’s too expensive in Chinese language. Just in case you forgot, here it is again:

太贵了 (tài guì le): too expensive

(guì ) means expensive, but what does (tài) mean?

(tài): excessively; too; extremely

+ adjective structure can be used to express different kinds of emotional intensity (surprise, disgust, praise, excitement etc). Here are few more examples:


Nǐ tài bàng le!

You are so great!


Rén tài duō le!

There are too many people!


Nǐ tài hútú le!

You are so confused!

And if someone asks you How are you?, you can always respond:

太好了!(Tài hǎo le!): Great!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Black cat, white cat

Deng Xiaoping was one of the most prominent leaders of the Chinese communist party. He is also well known for his quotation below:


Bùguǎn bái māo, hēi māo, dǎi zhù lǎoshǔ jiùshì hǎo māo

Doesn’t matter whether it is a white cat or a black cat, as long as it catches mice, it is a good cat.

Does look familiar? Yes this is the same from熊猫.

(xióng): bear

(māo): cat

熊猫 (xióngmāo): panda

老鼠 (lǎoshǔ): mouse

And how about these two colors we just learned?

(bái): white


Here are some more words worth learning

就是 (jiùshì): quite right; exactly; precisely

不管 (bùguǎn): no matter; regardless of

And some examples:


Tā jiùshì wǒmen de zhōngwén lǎoshī

He is definitely our Chinese teacher.


Bùguǎn shénme guójiā de zúqiú bǐsài, wǒ dōu kàn

No matter which country is playing, I watch all soccer games.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Fat panda from Sichuan

Earlier we learned that other than its girls and food, Sichuan province is also famous for its pandas. Pandas are native to central and south-western China, and they live mostly in Sichuan province. According to UNESCO website, Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries are home to more than 30% of world’s pandas.

[Source: Click here]

Now let’s learn more about the pandas.

熊猫 (xióngmāo): panda


Xióngmāo hěn kě'ài

Pandas are very cute


Tā ěrduo xiǎo xiǎo de

They have small ears


Tā yǎnjīng dàdà de

Their eyes are big


Tā wěiba duǎn duǎn de

They have short tails


Tā shēntǐ pàngpàng de

Their bodies are fat

Did you notice something in the above sentences? Yes, the reduplication of adjectives. Adjectives are reduplicated in Chinese language to indicate a higher degree of a certain quality than their non-reduplicated versions. The reduplicated form of monosyllabic adjective is AA and of disyllabic adjective is AABB. For example:

长长 (chángcháng)

漂漂亮亮 (piàopiàoliàngliàng)

Check this post for the reduplication of verbs in Chinese language.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Red maple leaves

It is October and it is that time of the year when the maple leaves turn red again. Southern Canada, eastern United States, Scandinavia, and eastern Asia are some parts of the world well known for their fall foliage. There is even a big tourism industry around this. You might have plans to make a trip to watch the leaves turn red yourself, but do you know how to say red leaves in Chinese language?

红叶 (hóng yè): red leaves

(hóng): red


Hóng fēngyè hěn hǎokàn

Red maple leaf is really pretty.

[Source: Click here]

Here are few other colors you might want to know

绿 (lǜ): green

绿茶 (lǜchá): green tea

(lán): blue

蓝图 (lántú): blueprint

(bái): white

白酒 (báijiǔ): liquor, alcohol

(hēi): black

黑白 (hēibái): black and white; right and wrong

And how do you say color?

(sè): color

红色 (hóng sè): red color

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chengdu, Sichuan

Chengdu is the capital of Sichuan province, and it is one of the biggest cities in China. As you can see in the map below it is located in southwest China.

四川 (Sìchuān)

(sì): four

(chuān): river

四川 (Sìchuān) is an abbreviation for 川峡四路 (Chuānxiá Sìlù), which literally translates to “Four circuits of river and gorges”.

成都 (Chéngdū)

(chéng): become

(dū): capital

It is believed that a king gave Chengdu its names when he decided to move his capital there in the early 4th century BC.

While in China, I spent most of my time outside Shanghai in Sichuan province. One reason might be because they say that the Sichuan girls are the most beautiful. Another reason might be because Sichuan food it really tasty. Whatever the reason maybe, it is definitely one of my favorite places in China.

Apart from being famous for its girls and food, Sichuan province is also famous for Pandas.

熊猫 (xióngmāo): panda


Xióngmāo shēnghuó zài Sìchuān shěng

Pandas live in Sichuan province.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You are my rose

Today I will share with you all the first Chinese song I learned. I was hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge with some of my friends (I will write more about it later) and we met this Chinese girl on the way. She was a great entertainer indeed and taught this song to all of us. It is one of my favorite Chinese songs (maybe because it was the first I learned).

This song is You are my rose by Pang Long and below is the English translation of the chorus.


Nǐ shì wǒ de méiguī

You are my rose


Nǐ shì wǒ de huā

You are my flower


Nǐ shì wǒ de àirén

You are my love


Shì wǒ de qiānguà

You are the one I care about


Nǐ shì wǒ de méiguī

You are my rose


Nǐ shì wǒ de huā

You are my flower


Nǐ shì wǒ de àirén

You are my love


Shì wǒ yīshēng yǒngyuǎn àizhe de méiguī huā

You are the rose I will love forever

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The 还 (hái) words of Chinese language

Earlier we looked at the (hǎo) words of Chinese language. Now let us look at the (hái) words.

In one of the earlier posts, How to say Hello in Chinese?, we learned that one way of responding to the question “How are you?” is 还好 (hái hǎo). 还好 means Okay.

The adverb means “rather; fairly”, implying that something is neither too good, nor too bad. Let’s look at some other words of Chinese language:

还行 (hái xíng): not bad

还可以 (hái kěyǐ): Okay

还不错 (hái bùcuò): not bad

还凑合 (hái còuhé): not too bad

As you can see above, all of these (hái) words mean either Okay or not bad. Now you can also use one of the above instead of 还好 (hái hǎo) you have been using.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reduplication of verbs in Chinese language

You must have seen verbs being repeated in Chinese language, like the one below:

学习学习 (xuéxí xuéxí)

No, it’s not a mistake. Verbs are reduplicated as shown above to denote short duration of actions. It can also be used to express an attempt. Reduplication of verbs softens the tone of a sentence, making it more relaxed and informal.

The reduplicated form of monosyllabic verbs is AA, and the reduplicated form of disyllabic verbs is ABAB:

看一看(kàn yī kàn)

想一想(xiǎng yī xiǎng)

学习学习(xuéxí xuéxí)

认识认识(rènshi rènshi)

Let’s look at some examples of how they are used in sentences:


Wǒ kěyǐ kàn yī kàn ma?

Can I look at it quickly?


Wǒ xiǎng gēn tāmen rènshi rènshi

I want to meet them

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Being humble in Chinese language


Nǐ shuō zhōngwén shuō de hěn hǎo

You speak very good Chinese

How should you response if someone compliments you like above? You will probably say

谢谢 (xièxiè): Thank you

Next time try the following instead 哪里,哪里 (nǎlǐ, nǎlǐ)

哪里 (nǎlǐ): where

It literally translates to “Where? Where?”, and it is a polite way of responding to a compliment. It is also like saying “Where is my Chinese good?”

Using 哪里,哪里 instead of 谢谢 has two advantages. Firstly, people will think that your Chinese is actually really good. And more importantly, humility is valued highly in Chinese culture.

Another polite way to respond to a compliment is 不敢当 (bù gǎndāng)

(bù): no; not; do not

敢当 (gǎndāng): dare

It literally translates to “do not dare”, and it is like saying “I wouldn’t dare to accept such a compliment”.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Speak of the Chinese devil

You must have heard the English saying “Speak of the devil”, but what is its Chinese equivalent?


Shuō Cáo Cāo Cáo Cāo dào

Speak of Cao Cao and Cao Cao arrives

You don’t believe me? Check this comic below:

I got this comic from this website. Check it out for more Cao Cao and other Chinese comics.

So who exactly is Cao Cao? Here is the Wikipedia excerpt:

"Cao Cao was a warlord and the penultimate chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty who rose to great power during the dynasty's final years. As one of the central figures of the Three Kingdoms period, he laid the foundations for what was to become the state of Cao Wei and was posthumously titled Emperor Wu of Wei. Although often portrayed as a cruel and merciless tyrant, Cao Cao has also been praised as a brilliant ruler and military genius who treated his subordinates like his family."

The fact that Cao Cao is portrayed as a cunning and deceitful man in the Chinese opera has also helped his negative image. Below is the Cao Cao mask used in Chinese opera:

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Some more Chinese expressions

Earlier we looked at Some daily Chinese expressions. That list was definitely not exhaustive, and today we will add few more to it. Let’s keep it simple this time around:

(ā) is used to express amazement


Ā! Zhège dìfāng zhème piàoliang!

Oh, This place is so beautiful!

(á) is used when you want an answer

啊? 你说什么?

Á? Nǐ shuō shénme?


(ǎ) is used to express surprise


Ǎ, Nǐ yǒu shénme wèntí?

Gosh, what’s your problem?

(à) is used to express sudden realization


À, Nǐ shì tā de nánpéngyǒu!

Ah, so you are her boyfriend.

Yes, I have been saying again and again: TONES ARE IMPORTANT.