How do you say ‘see’ in Chinese?

看 (kàn) can mean ‘look at’ 让我看看 Ràng wǒ kànkan Let me have a look 人老了,眼睛看不清楚了 Rén lǎo le, yǎnjīng kàn bu qīngchu le When people get old, they can longer see clearly 看 (kàn) also means ‘watch’ (sports games/TV/plays) 我喜欢看足球比赛 Wǒ xǐhuan kàn zúqiú bǐsài I like watching soccer/football games. 你看过《星球大战》吗? Nǐ kànguo xīngqiú dàzhàn ma? Have you seen Star Wars? 看 (kàn) also means ‘read’ (books) 你喜欢看什么书? Nǐ xǐhuan kàn shénme shū? What books do you like to Continue Reading

How do you say ‘can’ in Chinese?

‘Can’ or ‘be able to’ is an easy verb to translate in many languages, but in Chinese it is not so simple. There are 4 words/ways to translate the idea of ‘being or not being able to do something’ in Chinese depending on the sentence: 1. Using a verb complement 2. 会 huì 3. 可以 kěyǐ 4. 能 néng 1. Using a verb complement In this case, you normally have a verb + 得 (when you can do it) or 不 (when you can’t do it) + the result of the verb. I explain this in detail in another video. For Continue Reading

How do you say ‘want’ in Chinese?

想 (xiǎng), 要 (yào) and 想要 (xiǎng yào) in Chinese are confusing to a lot of people, because they do mean similar things. However, each one is used differently, so let’s clear up the differences Use 要 (yào) when you are saying that you ‘want’ something physical or an object 我要一瓶啤酒 Wǒ yào yī píng píjiǔ I want a bottle of beer. 我要那个 Wǒ yào nàge I want that one. In these situations, you can also use 想要 (xiǎng yào) 'would like', which is slightly ‘softer’ 我想要一瓶啤酒 Wǒ xiǎng yào yī Continue Reading

How do you say ‘know’ in Chinese?

There are normally two words that you use for ‘know’ in Chinese, depending on the situation: 知道 zhīdào and 认识 rènshi 认识 rènshi normally means to know of a person or a place, or (be able to) recognise 你认识路吗?nǐ rènshi lù ma? Do you know the way? 你认识多少字?Nǐ rènshi duōshao zì? How many characters do you know/recognise? 你们在哪里认识的?Nǐmen zài nǎlǐ rènshi de? How do you know each other? 知道 zhīdào normally means ‘know of’, ‘know about’ or ‘know a fact 我不认识他,但是我知道他 wǒ bù rènshi tā, dànshì Continue Reading

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 Continue Reading

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 result is] understanding 我看不懂 Wǒ kàn bu dǒng I can’t understand (when reading) Literally: I look/read not understand In all of these Continue Reading

Learning Chinese? Don’t Make This Mistake With 是

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 being cold/thin, you 
don't use 是 on its own 我是饿 should be 我饿了 wǒ è le or 我很饿 wǒ hěn è I am hungry 他是很胖 should be 他很胖 Tā hěn pàng He is very fat 这件毛衣是黄色 should be 这件毛衣是黄色的 Zhè jiàn Continue Reading

How to make a suggestion in Chinese using 吧

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 rest 便宜一点吧 piányi yīdiǎn ba Can it be a little cheaper? Softening the tone of a sentence or making a concession 好吧 Hǎo ba - alright then 算了吧 Suànle ba- forget it 应该是吧 Yīnggāi shì ba - I think Continue Reading

One phrase in spoken Chinese you need to know: 一下

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 wèn ba Just ask. However, you will hear 一下 all the time in China in polite requests, and in colloquial speech. 麻烦帮我开一下门 Máfan bāng wǒ kāi yīxià mén Could you help me to open the door? In 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 the character is something like 'grasp' or 'hold' 把 is used really commonly in Mandarin to emphasise the result or action that you are doing to an object, or the influence that it has. Does Continue Reading