Monday, August 29, 2011

How do people park in China?

We all know parking is a problem everywhere, and China is not an exception. So what is the solution? Here is one:

(chē): car

开车 (kāi chē): to drive a car


Wǒ kāichē qù Běijīng

I drove to Beijing

停车 (tíng chē): to park a car

If you don’t want to deal with parking, why don't you take the public transportation then?

地铁 (dìtiě): subway


Wǒ shì zuò dìtiě lái de

I took the subway here

地铁站 (dìtiě zhàn): subway station

火车 (huǒchē): train

Can you guess how to say train station?

火车站 (huǒchē zhàn): train station

飞机 (fēijī): airplane

机场 (jīchǎng): airport

机票 (jīpiào): plane ticket

出租车 (chūzū chē): taxi

You might find the above in textbooks but the more common way of saying taxi is

打的 (dǎ di): taxi

自行车 (zìxíngchē): bicycle


Wǒ qí zìxíngchē shàngbān

I ride my bike to work

And here is my favorite public transport in China. It might not be fun to ride but it is definitely fun to say.

公共汽车 (gōnggòng qìchē): bus/public bus

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I am starving to death

How hungry are you? Well, if you are really hungry then you should definitely learn this.

我饿死了 (Wǒ è sǐ le): I am starving to death

And now that you have eaten a lot:

我吃饱了 (Wǒ chī bǎo le): I am full

As you might have noticed in the first sentence, 死了 (sǐ le) is used to reflect an extreme situation. You need one more example? Here you go:

我累死了 (Wǒ lèi sǐ le): I am dying of exhaustion

How else can you show an extreme situation? How about 极了 (jí le)?

好极了 (hǎo jí le): wonderful; great

This can be your response next time someone asks you “How are you?” Below is one more example:


Ālāsījiā lěng jí le

Alaska is extremely cold

And you can use 腻了 (nì le) when you are sick or bored of doing something.


Zhè dào cài wǒ tiāntiān chī, dōu chī nì le

I eat this dish every day, I am sick of it.

Remember 死了 (sǐ le), 极了 (jí le) and 腻了 (nì le).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Places in Shanghai that foreigners love

Though this list is not exhaustive by any means, here is a collection of few places in Shanghai that I think are popular among foreigners:

新天地 (Xīntiāndì): Xintiandi

(xīn): new

(tiān): sky; heaven

(dì): land; earth

天地 (tiāndì): heaven and earth; world

Xintiandi, which literally translates to New World, is an area in Shanghai full of expensive restaurants, bars, cafes and galleries. Even though it might not feel like China, this place is popular among Chinese people and foreigners alike. If you go there, expect to spend some money (or you can always go there and just look around).

外滩 (wàitān): The Bund

(wài): outside

(tān): beach

The Bund, known as wàitān in Chinese, is an area along the western bank of Huangpu River. While this area consists of numerous historical buildings, it is also equally popular for the view of Pudong on the opposite side of the river.

View from The Bund [Source: Click here]

南外滩轻纺面料市场 (nán wàitān qīng fǎng miànliào shìchǎng)
South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market

South Bund Soft-Spinning Material Market, also known as the Fabric Market, is another popular place for foreigners to visit in Shanghai. Here you can find custom made clothes in the cheapest price possible. Just to give you an idea, you can get a custom made suit for under $50.

七浦路(Qīpǔ lù): Qipu Lu

Qipu Lu is popular among the foreigners as the place to go get cheap, knock-off stuff. I used to call it Cheap-u Lu. If you decide to go, make sure you bring some bargaining skills with you.

(lù): road

means road, so its English name would be Qipu road. In some cities you might also find that (jiē) is used instead, which means street.

(jiē): street

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do you want to buy or sell?

The words for buy and sell have the same pronunciation in Chinese language. Even the characters look similar.

(mǎi): buy

(mài): sell

Thank god the tones are different. So make sure you get the tones right.

If you want to (mǎi) then why not learn some of the words below?

买东西 (mǎi dōngxi): to go shopping

购物中心 (gòuwù zhōngxīn): shopping center

商店 (shāngdiàn): shop/store

Whenever I went shopping in China, one phrase I used a lot was

太贵了 (tài guì le): too expensive

(guì): expensive

Make sure you use it a lot too and always ask for a discount

打折 (dǎzhé): to give a discount

便宜一点儿 (piányi yīdiǎn er): a bit cheaper

便宜 (piányi): cheap

免费 (miǎnfèi): free

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How are words formed in Chinese language?

Some of my friends who don’t speak Chinese find it really hard to understand how are the words formed in Chinese language. Unlike English, Chinese language doesn’t have letters which can be combined to form words. So does that mean that there is a unique character for every single word in Chinese language? If you have been following this blog, by now you should have figured out that’s not the case.

We have already learned that the same character, with the same pronunciation and tone, can have more than one meaning depending on the context and use. Please review the post Three uses of (xiǎng). So yes, there isn’t a unique character for every single word in Chinese language.

But today we are going to look at how a Chinese character can be combined with other characters to form new words. Let’s use a character we recently learned, (shǒu), as our example.

(shǒu): hand

Now let’s combine it with other characters:

手表(shǒubiǎo): wristwatch

手册(shǒucè): handbook; manual

手机(shǒujī): cell phone

手绢(shǒujuàn): handkerchief

手铐(shǒukào): handcuffs

手球(shǒuqiú): handball

手套(shǒutào): gloves

I hope this gives you some idea of how some of the Chinese words are formed. Please check out The (hǎo) words of Chinese language if you are looking for another similar post.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Some daily Chinese expressions

You must be familiar with expressions like Ah! Oh! etc in English language. Chinese language has similar expressions to indicate different emotions as well. Let’s look at some of them:

哎呀 (āiyā): an expression of wonder, shock, etc.


Āiyā, nǐ wèishéme gàosu tā?

Oh! Why did you tell her?

哎呦 (āiyōu): an exclamation usually indicating disappointment


Āi yōu, wǒ hái méiyǒu zuò gōngkè

Ah! I still haven’t done my homework.

(ō): an expression indicating a sudden realization

噢, 他是你的哥哥

Ō, tā shì nǐ dí gēgē

Oh! He is your brother.

Another character, same sound but different tone, can also be used in a similar context:

(ó): an expression to indicate a sudden realization


Ó, shì zhèyàng

Oh! That’s how it is

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chinese Valentine's Day

Yesterday was the Qixi Festival in China, and it is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day.

七夕节 (Qīxì jié): Qixi Festival

(qī): seven

(xì): evening

Literally it translates to “The night of sevens”, and it is named as such because it falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar, which happens to be on August 6 this year. It is also known as the Chinese Valentine’s Day:

情人节 (Qíngrén jié): Valentine’s Day

(qíng): love

(rén): people

Looking for a Chinese girlfriend/boyfriend? You could definitely use some of these Chinese words:

(ài): love

我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ): I love you

男朋友 (nan péngyǒu): boyfriend

女朋友 (nǚ péngyǒu): girlfriend

谈恋爱 (tán liàn'ài): to date someone


(Mǎkè hé Lìshā tán liàn'ài)

Mark and Lisa are dating.

吹了 (chuīle): to break up

他们吹了 (tāmen chuīle): They broke up

不来电 (bù láidiàn): to have no chemistry

And there is this very popular Chinese saying:

男才女貌 (Nán cái nǚ mào): talented man and a beautiful woman

In ancient China, it was believed to be a good match if the man was talented and the woman was beautiful.


(Nán cái nǚ mào, zhème bù pèi?)

The guy is talented and the girl is good looking, how is it not a good match?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Qingdao city, Tsingtao beer

Next in the series of talking about different Chinese cities is Qingdao city, one of the major cities located in the eastern part of China. It’s one of my favorite cities in China, and it was also voted the most livable city in China in 2009. This is how you write its name in Chinese language:

青岛(Qīngdǎo): Qingdao

And here is the breakdown:

(qīng): green

(dǎo): island

青岛市(Qīngdǎo shì): Qingdao city

城市(chéngshì): city

You might not have heard about Qingdao city, but you might have drunk Tsingtao beer. As you might have guessed by now, Tsingtao beer comes from Qingdao city.

青岛啤酒(Qīngdǎo píjiǔ): Tsingtao beer

[Source: Click here]

Here are some words which might be useful while getting a drink in China:

(jiǔ): wine/alcohol

啤酒(píjiǔ): beer

白酒(báijiǔ): liqour

酒吧 (jiǔbā): bar

干杯 (gānbēi): cheers

醉了(zuì le): to be drunk

Qingdao city is not only famous for its beer, but it is also the home of the longest bridge in the world, Jiaozhou Bay Bridge.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Body parts in Chinese language

I came across this really catchy song which teaches how to say different body parts in Chinese language. Hope you will enjoy it:


yīgè tǔdòu

One potato


cháng liǎng zhī yǎnjīng

With two eyes


cháng yī zhǐ bízi

With a nose


hé yī zhāng zuǐ

And a mouth


yīgè tǔdòu

One potato


yǒu liǎng zhī shǒu

With two arms


yǒu liǎng tiáo tuǐ

With two legs


hé yī dǐng màozi

And a hat


yīgè tǔdòu

One potato


sheí xiǎng tiàowǔ

Who likes to dance


sheí xiǎng tiàowǔ

Who likes to dance


sheí xiǎng tiàowǔ

Who likes to dance

As you can see the different body parts used in this song are:

眼睛 (yǎnjīng): eyes

鼻子(bízi): nose

(zuǐ): mouth

(shǒu): hand

(tuǐ): leg

Just in case you haven’t figured out yet

土豆 (tǔdòu): potato

[Update: As Alan Chan pointed out in the comments below, at 00:48 instead of saying "two potatoes have four arms" the song says "two potatoes have two arms"]