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

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

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

Le (了) Doesn’t Just ‘Mean’ The Past Tense: 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 situation has changed In this case, its meaning could be interpreted as: 'and that's the situation now'. Sometimes it can be used similarly to 'ya' in Spanish, e.g. Ya esta – that's enough 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

Chinese Conversation Clips – WeChat, the Most Popular App in China

English translation of video content: Chris: And there is one app that we can call a super app. It’s called WeChat. Can you tell us what kind of app WeChat is? Becca: I first came into contact with WeChat in around 2011 or 2012. At that time, WhatsApp was already really popular outside China. But in China, there weren’t so many people using WhatsApp. Later I found a lot of people began to use an app to send short messages. You didn't get charged for sending an SMS, it only used up your Continue Reading

Chinese Conversation Clips – Chinese Foods You Have to Try

English translation of video content: Chris: OK. So if you come to China and want to eat out, is there any dishes that you must order, or dishes that you recommend, apart from hot pot, which we’ve talked about already? Becca: I think if you come to Beijing you should definitely try Beijing Roast Duck, and there are also many dishes are adapted to foreigners' tastes, because I have many foreign friends and I often recommend these dishes to them. I know that if many foreign friends order Continue Reading