Beginner in Chinese?

Sign up to get a free basic Chinese course complete with MP3 audio, 
plus learning tips and video lessons! 
 
 

How do you say ‘it’ in Chinese?

Even though strictly speaking there is a character for ‘it’ in Chinese (它), the word ‘it’ is very rarely translated into Chinese.

A lot of speakers of European languages often make mistakes because they try to ‘translate it’ into Chinese, when it shouldn’t be translated.

This is a linguistic difference that you have to get used to.

For example:

你买到了吗? – Did you buy it?
买了 – Yes, I bought it.

你喜欢吗?- Do you like it?
喜欢 – Yes I like it.

You do not use 它

You also don’t use 它 when you are talking about time or the weather in Chinese.

It’s Thursday today – 今天是星期四

It’s 4 o’clock – 现在四点种
It’s raining – 下雨了

You also don’t use 它 when you are talking about time or the weather in Chinese.

It’s Thursday today – 今天是星期四

It’s 4 o’clock – 现在四点种
It’s raining – 下雨了

You don’t use 它 when you are talking about an abstract idea

It’s a good idea – (这是个)好主意
It doesn’t matter – 没关系
It’s hard to talk to him – 很难跟他对话

它 is occasionally used in constructions using the character 把 (which I explain in a separate video)

书在哪里?Where is the book?
我把它放在桌子上了 – I put it on the table.

它 can also be used in Chinese to refer to animals

那边有一只猫,它的毛是白色的
There’s a cat over there. It has white fur.

How do verb complements work in Chinese?

Many beginners in Chinese learn phrases like: 我听得懂 Wǒ tīng de dǒng I can understand (when listening) Literally: I hear/listen [and the result is] understanding 我听不懂 Wǒ tīng bu dǒng I can’t understand (when listening) Literally: I listen not understand 我看得懂 Wǒ kàn de dǒng I can understand (when reading) Literally: I look/read [and the […]

Continue reading...

Learning Chinese? Don’t Make This Mistake With 是

Mistake with shi

A lot of learners make mistakes with the character 是 This character often means ‘to be, am, is, are’ or ‘it is so’. BUT it doesn’t work exactly the same as the verb ‘to be’ in English or other languages. When using an adjective to describe something, or talking about a state of being, like […]

Continue reading...

How to make a suggestion in Chinese using 吧


Suggestion in Chinese Ba

吧 is a grammatical particle in Chinese that is used to make a suggestion or to soften the tone of the sentence. It is always the last character in a sentence. Some examples of making suggestions: 走吧 zǒu ba – let’s go 吃饭吧 chīfàn ba – let’s eat 休息一下吧 xiūxi yīxià ba – take a […]

Continue reading...

One phrase in spoken Chinese you need to know: 一下

Yi Xia in Chinese, useful phrase

一下 literally means ‘for a short time’ For example: 稍等一下 Shāo děng yīxià Wait a moment 看一下 Kàn yīxià Take a quick look Another way of expressing the idea of ‘politeness’ is to repeat the verb and put 一 in the middle. For example: 试一试 Shì yī shì Give it a try 问一问吧 Wèn yī […]

Continue reading...

Difficult Chinese Characters Explained Simply: 把

The character 把 is a real headache for Chinese learners, but you will get very used to when it is/isn’t used and how to use it through exposure and practice. It doesn’t have an equivalent in English, and when used as a grammar word, it doesn’t have it’s own meaning, however the original meaning of […]

Continue reading...

How Does Chinese Work If It Doesn’t Have Tenses?

Chinese work tenses

Chinese doesn’t have tenses like European languages do. Unlike in French, Spanish, Russian etc, verbs don’t change their form depending on who is doing them, and when they are doing them. 我喜欢 – I like 你喜欢 – You like 他(她)喜欢 – He (she) likes 我们喜欢 – We like 你们喜欢 – You like (referring to more […]

Continue reading...

Difficult Chinese Characters Explained Simply: 就 and 才 


Difficult Chinese Characters 就 and 才

The two characters 就 and 才 can be very confusing to Chinese learners, and they are used quite often. Let’s take a look at how to use them. In the simplest usage, 就 indicates ‘earlyness’ – meaning is something like ‘already?’ or ‘this early?’ and 才 indicates ‘lateness’ – meaning is something like ‘only just […]

Continue reading...

Difficult Chinese Characters Explained Simply: 的,得 and 地

Difficult characters explained simply: three des

The three characters 的 得 and 地 are all pronounced ‘de’, and they’re really important in Chinese grammar. But the difference stops there. These characters became common in Chinese when the language became modernised from classical Chinese and more ‘grammar’ characters started to be used. 得 and 地 are simpler to understand, so let’s talk […]

Continue reading...

Le (了) Doesn’t Just ‘Mean’ The Past Tense: How To Use Le in Chinese

How to use le in Chinese

A lot of Chinese learners believe that 了 *means* the past tense in Chinese. But that’s not quite true… 了 is not a character with a tangible meaning that can be translated To say it refers to the past tense is too simplistic, it has a number of different usages. 了 often indicates that a […]

Continue reading...