Chinese Characters Explained (4) Meaning + Pronunciation Component

This is the 4th and final part of my new series explaining how Chinese characters work in depth. Part 1 was about Chinese characters that look like physical objects or animals. Part 2 was about Chinese characters that represent ideas. Part 3 was about characters that are a combination of two or more 'idea components' put together. And this time, I want to teach you about the most common type of Chinese characters out there: around 80-90% of characters work like this, so if you only read Continue Reading

Chinese Characters Explained (3) Ones That Are Two Ideas Put Together

Welcome to part 3 of my series explaining how Chinese characters work in detail. In part 1 I introduced the Chinese characters that look like things, and part 2 was about Chinese characters that represent ideas. The third type of Chinese characters that we need to talk about is Chinese characters that are two or more ideas put together. These characters can also be called 'compound ideograms' or 会意字 huìyìzì in Chinese. Ancient lexicographers claimed that about 13% of Chinese characters Continue Reading

Chinese Characters Explained (2) Ones That Represent Meanings

In the first part of these new series explaining Chinese characters in detail, I talked about Chinese characters that look like things. The second major type of Chinese characters are what I call 'ones that represent ideas'. These characters are not pictures of things. Instead, they represent concepts such as 'up' or 'down', 'middle' or so on. These characters are sometimes also called 'ideograms' or 指事字 zhǐ shì zì. Here are some examples of Chinese characters that represent ideas: 上 Continue Reading

Chinese Characters Explained (1) Ones That Look Like Things

There are a lot of misconceptions about Chinese characters. One thing that I hear very often is that Chinese characters are "just like pictures of things." The popularity of the Chineasy series of books has done a lot to spread this idea - a lot of people are starting to think that Chinese characters are just like drawings. And that's not really a good thing, because it isn't exactly true. Yes, it is true that some Chinese characters are based on 'pictures of things', but estimates Continue Reading

Review of ‘Cantonese Conversations’

I’ve written about my interest in Cantonese on this blog before, and how I went about learning Cantonese, but it’s not a topic I normally talk about on this site very much: after all, Mandarin is the most widely spoken Chinese dialect and this site is called Fluent in Mandarin! However, Cantonese is what’s spoken in Hong Kong and Macao, so if you live there or you are interested in either of these two places, then Cantonese is what you will want to learn. Contrary to what people say, Continue Reading

Building Fluency in Chinese – A Review of Glossika

[Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links] When I was learning Chinese, it was clear that just working through the beginners’ textbooks wasn’t going to be enough; I needed more practice to build up fluency. So, I devised all sorts of methods to force myself to get out of my comfort zone and start thinking in Chinese as much as possible: I thought up example dialogues in my head, and practised thinking of what I would say in different situations. I would try to interpret what friends Continue Reading

Making a Dinner Date – Survival Chinese Bites

Key Chinese words and phrases from the video: 我想请你吃饭 wǒ xiǎng qǐng nǐ chī fàn I want to treat you to a meal 你今天晚上有空吗? nǐ jīntiān wǎnshang yǒu kòng ma? Are you free tonight? 有空 yǒu kòng Yes I’m free 不好意思, 我今天晚上没有空 bùhǎoyìsi, wǒ jīntiān wǎnshang méiyǒu kòng Sorry, I’m not free tonight 我们在哪里见面? wǒmen zài nǎlǐ jiànmiàn? Where shall we meet? 我们6点在酒店见面吧 wǒmen liù diǎn zài jiǔdiàn jiànmiàn ba Let’s meet at the hotel at 6:00 好的,一会儿见 hǎo de, yīhuì'er jiàn Okay, see you Continue Reading

Shopping For Souvenirs – Survival Chinese Bites

Key Chinese words and phrases from the video: 有没有明信片? yǒu méi yǒu míngxìnpiàn? Do you have postcards? 我想买三张 wǒ xiǎng mǎi sān zhāng I want to buy three. 一共多少钱? yīgòng duōshao qián? How much is that altogether? 10 块钱 shí kuài qián 10 yuan 还要别的吗? hái yào biéde ma? Anything else? 不用了, 就这些 bùyòngle, jiù zhèxiē No, just these things. 有袋子吗? yǒu dàizi ma? Do you have a bag? 谢谢 xièxie Thank you Continue Reading

Shopping For Clothes – Survival Chinese Bites

Key Chinese words and phrases from the video: 我想买一件衬衫 wǒ xiǎng mǎi yī jiàn chènshān 
 I would like to buy a shirt 我可以试穿一下吗? wǒ kěyǐ shìchuān yīxià ma?
 Can I try it on? 有没有L号? yǒu méi yǒu L hào?
 Do you have this in L? 
还有别的吗? hái yǒu biéde ma? Do you have any others? 多少钱? duōshao qián
? How much is it? 
便宜一点可以吗? piányi yīdiǎn kěyǐ ma? Can you make it a bit cheaper? Continue Reading

Alternative Ways to Learn Mandarin More Effectively

Chinese is a fascinating, captivating, and even lyrical language. With China being a commerce and industry center and a major world market player, there are many people who are interested in the country, its culture and its language. But while the Chinese language is interesting and is now fast catching the attention of many language learners, it is one of the most difficult to learn. For people used to alphabetic languages, Chinese characters are a mystery because they offer Continue Reading