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