Mandarin Weekly #99

大家好! (Hi, everyone!) This is Mandarin Weekly #99, a free newsletter with links and information for those of us learning Chinese.

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Winter activities

Intermediate What can you do in China during the winter? It depends on where you live, of course, but between holidays, snow, and the generally colder weather, there are many things to do. Here’s a list of what to do, eat, and see:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage

要 (yào) vs. 想 (xiǎng)

Beginner For many Chinese learners, the words 要 (yào) and 想 (xiǎng) are quite similar. When do you use each one?

Twitter: @WrittenChinese

“If” vs. “if”

Intermediate There are two ways to say “if” in Chinese, as describes:

Twitter: @LearnChineseNow

Using 的 (de)

Beginner The most common character in Chinese is 的 (de). It can be used in a variety of ways:

Chinese without China

Immersion in a langugage is often considered a great way to improve your fluency. Butif you’re not in China, then how can you immerse yourself in Chinese? Here are some ideas for how to surround yourself with a language without actually being there:

Twitter: @FluentU

Compound words

Intermediate How are compound words (i.e., words containing multiple characters) formed in Chinese?

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

The people in your neighborhood

Beginner What sort of work do you do? It’s a common enough question in English, and it’s also common in Chinese. Which means that you should probably know how to describe your profession in Chinese. Here’s a list to help you out:

Twitter: @ChineseLanguage


Intermediate How can you compare two things in Chinese? The character 比 (bǐ) is your friend, and can be used in a variety of ways:

Twitter: @DigMandarin

Using 抠 (kōu)

Intermediate What is the connection between being stingy and a Chinese wedding? This introduction to 抠 (kōu), and words associated with it, will help you to understand:

Phrases to impress

Intermediate Want to impress your Chinese-speaking colleagues with some native-sounding phrases? Here are a few that you can incorporate into your conversation:

Twitter: @MandarinHQ

Christmas vocabulary

Beginner It might be a bit early to celebrate, but Christmas is coming later this year — and here are some words to talk about it in Chinese:

Adjectives vs. adverbs

Intermediate How do you distinguish between adjectives (describing nouns) and adverbs (describing verbs) in Chinese? Here’s a brief introduction:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Character formation

How were Chinese characters formed? There are several origins, illustrated and described here:

Twitter: @DecodeChinese

Being sarcastic

Intermediate Being sarcastic? You can use the Chinese phrase 风凉话 (fēng liáng huà) to describe your tone:

Twitter: @eputonghua

Traditional 才

What is the traditional form of the character 才 (cái)? And why isn’t it used more?


Intermediate If you ever wanted to talk about taxes in Chinese, this discussion led to an answer that’s more complete than you probably ever imagined was possible:

Understanding 就

Beginner The character 就 (jiù) is used in a number of ways and places that aren’t immediately obvious to non-natives. Here is a discussion that might help you to understand it a bit better:

Fat? Plump? Obese?

Intermediate There are different ways of describing someone (or something) as being fat:

How do you say “was”?

Beginner In English (and many other languages), we have a past tense form of the verb “to be.” How can we express that in Chinese?

You must, you should, you need to

Beginner There are different ways of saying you need to do something in Chinese. How are they different?

Food-ordering words

Beginner Ordering food in a restaurant? This discussion introduces a number of terms that you’ll probably want to know and use:

Originally published at Mandarin Weekly (每周中文).