How Does Chinese Work If It Doesn’t Have 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 than one person) 他们喜欢 – They like 喜欢 xǐhuan is the verb and it stays the same The Chinese character(s) that represent the verb always look the same, past, present or future. 我昨天走了 Wǒ Continue Reading

Difficult Chinese Characters Explained Simply: 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 now' 你怎么现在就到了? Nǐ zěnme xiànzài jiù lái le? Why have you arrived now? (you're so early, why so early) 你怎么现在才到了? Nǐ zěnme xiànzài cái lái le? Why have you arrived Continue Reading

Difficult Chinese Characters Explained Simply: 的,得 and 地

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 about them first! 得 is used after verbs to give you 'a bit more information about the verb (as a complement for the verb) For example: 你说得对 Nǐ Continue Reading

Understand Chinese Measure Words in 1 Video

In English, you would say 'a piece of paper' or 'a kilo of apples' The 'piece' and 'kilo' are a bit like measure words in Chinese. In English you wouldn't say, 'a piece of phone' or 'a piece of shirt' But in Chinese you need to use measure words like this a lot of the time. 一个苹果 Yī gè píngguǒ A 'piece of' apple (an apple) 一头大象 Yī tóu dàxiàng A 'piece of' elephant (an elephant) 两条鱼 Liǎng tiáo yú Two 'pieces of' fish You use measure words in Chinese whenever you are Continue Reading

How to Use Question Words in Chinese

Here are the basic question words you'll need to know in Chinese:   什么 shénme what 哪里 哪儿 nǎlǐ/nǎr where 哪(个) nǎ (ge) which 谁 shéi or shuí who 什么时候 shénme shíhou when 为什么 wèishénme why 怎么 zěnme how 多少 duōshao how many/much Unlike in English, 'what, who, where, which, how much' don't go at the beginning of the sentence in Chinese. They go in the same place as the thing you are asking about if the sentence was a Continue Reading

How to Form Questions in Chinese

There are a few different ways to ask questions in Chinese. One of the simplest is to take a statement and make it into a question by adding the character 吗 ma to the end of the sentence. Some examples: 你是中国人 Nǐ shì zhōngguó rén You are Chinese 你是中国人吗? Nǐ shì zhōngguó rén ma? Are you Chinese? 你喜欢喝茶 Nǐ xǐhuān hē chá You like to drink tea 你喜欢喝茶吗? Nǐ xǐhuān hē chá ma? Do you like to drink tea? 他是学生 Tā shì xuéshēng He is a student 他是学生吗? Tā shì xuésheng ma? Is he a Continue Reading

Learn Chinese Through Famous Classical Poems

If you are interested in Chinese culture and literature, then you can’t afford to ignore exploring Chinese poetry. Chinese poems often get skipped over when learning Chinese as a second language because there are so many other more imminent, practical things you have to learn! But don’t get me wrong, there is rich wisdom and beauty in Chinese poetry. Poetry is held in high regard in Chinese literature and can be dated back to as early as the 1st millennium BC. The height of Chinese poetry is Continue Reading

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 (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