45 Mandarin Sentences with Chinese Characteristics

The following is a collection of sentences in Mandarin which I believe are special in some way.

What do I mean by “special”? Well, let’s just say grammatically and structurally they’re not exactly typical, and in most cases they stand-alone as independent expressions. Plus, many of them contain elements of Chinese culture that set them apart from regular sentences.

I’ve broken these up into beginners, intermediate and advanced levels and tried to explain not only the literal meaning of each sentence, but its function and near-equivalent translation in English. Of course your comments and constructive feedback are always welcome in the comments section. Enjoy!

Part two: Another 45 Mandarin Sentences with Chinese Characteristics.

Beginners Level

1. 你吃饭了吗? Nǐ chīfàn le ma?

Literally: “Have you eaten?”
Function: Expresses one’s concern for someone else.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “How’s it going?” or “How are you?”

2. 你多吃一点。Nǐ duō chī yīdiǎn.

Literally: “Eat some more.”
Function: Expresses one’s hospitality for a guest.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Have some more.”

3. 慢慢吃。Màn man chī.

Literally: “Eat slowly.”
Function: Expresses politeness to someone when eating.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Bon appétit” or “enjoy your meal” (American English).

4. 慢走。Màn zǒu.

Literally: “Walk slowly.”
Function: Expresses politeness to someone when they leave someone’s house or a hotel, restaurant, etc.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Take care” or “Have a good day” (American English).

5. 慢慢来。Màn màn lái.

Literally: “Come slowly.”
Function: Expresses to someone to take it easy.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Take it easy”, “Take your time” or “Easy does it”.

6. 我跟你讲。Wǒ gēn nǐ jiǎng.

Literally: “I speak to you.”
Similar phrase in Chinese: 你听我讲 nǐ tīng wǒ jiǎng (Literally: “Listen to what I say”). Note that 讲 jiǎng can always be replaced by 说 shuō.
Function: Used to get someone to listen to you when you want to tell them something you think is important.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Look, …” or “Listen, …”

7. 我先走了。Wǒ xiān zǒu le.

Literally: “I go first.”
Function: Used to tell someone that you are leaving, and that they can stay in the same place if they wish.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “I’m off.” or “I gotta run.”

8. 请问一下。Qǐng wèn yīxià.

Literally: “Please [let me] ask.”
Function: Used when you wish to ask someone (usually a stranger) a question.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Excuse me.”


Intermediate Level

9. 别送了。Bié sòng le.

Literally: “Don’t see me out.”
Similar phrase in Chinese: 请回 qǐnghuí (“Please return.”) and 请留步 Qǐng liúbù (“Please stop here.”)
Function: Very polite. The guest says this to the host when the guest feels it’s not necessary for the host to see them out.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “You don’t need to see me out.” or “No need to walk me out.”

10. 我敬你一杯。Wǒ jìng nǐ yī bēi.

Literally: This phrase is difficult to translate literally. 敬 jìng here symbolises respect given to the second party.
Function: Said when you wish to raise your drink to someone, to drink with them or propose a toast.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “I drink to you” or just “Cheers”.

11. 我会考虑一下的。Wǒ huì kǎolǜ yīxià de.

Literally: “I will consider [it].”
Function: Used to let someone know that you’ll think about something they have suggested, especially if you’re not really sure you accept it.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “I’ll think about it.”

12. 你去忙你的吧。Nǐ qù máng nǐ de ba.

Literally: “You go do what you are busy with.”
Function: Used to let someone know that they can continue doing what they are doing, while you go and do something else.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Please carry on with what you’re doing.”

13. 我不是说你。Wǒ bù shì shuō nǐ.

Literally: “I’m not criticising you.”
Similar phrase in Chinese: 我不怪你 Wǒ bù guài nǐ (“I’m not blaming you.”)
Function: Used to preface something critical you’re about to say and urge the other person not to be offended by it.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “I’m not criticising you.” or “I’m not having a go at you.” (Aussie English) or “No offense.”

14. 至于吗? Zhìyú ma?

Literally: Difficult to translate literally; 至于 zhìyú is a verb used to indicate that something has reached a certain level, while 吗 ma creates a question structure.
Function: Used to express doubt about what someone says. You may reply as 至于 zhìyú or 不至于 bù zhìyú.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Is that really the case?” or “Has it come to that?” (depending on situation)

15. 你吓死我了。Nǐ xià sǐ wǒ le.

Literally: “You scared me to death.”
Similar phrase in Chinese: 你吓了我一跳 Nǐ xià le wǒ yī tiào (similar, but not as strong)
Function: Used to express one’s fear or concern about someone.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “You scared the crap outta me” or “You freaked me out” or “You made me concerned” depending on situation.

16. 随你了。Suí nǐ le.

Literally: “I sui [follow? go with?] you.”
Similar phrase in Chinese: 随便 Suíbiàn
Function: Used to express that, when it comes to making a particular decision, you don’t really mind either way.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Up to you” or “I’m easy.” “Whatever/I don’t care” depending on the situation.

17. 来来来… 坐坐坐… 吃吃吃… Lái lái lái…zuò zuò zuò …chī chī chī…

Literally: “Come come come… sit sit sit… eat eat eat
Function: These three different phrases are used in different situations, though they may be said after one another. They are normally used when greeting a guest and you wish to show them your hospitality – to come in and/or take a seat and/or eat.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Make yourself at home… Please, take a seat… Tuck in.”

18. [某人]不在状态。[Somebody] bù zài zhuàngtài.

Literally:Somebody is not in [a normal] state.”
Function: Used to explain that someone – perhaps a friend or a family member – is not feeling very well.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: Somebody is not him/herself.”

19. 我失陪了。Wǒ shīpéi le.

Literally: “I lose [your] company.”
Function: Used to politely let someone know that you are leaving.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “I’m sorry but I must take my leave(very formal) or “Sorry but I have to run” (informal).

20. 请教一下。Qǐngjiào yīxià.

Literally: “Please instruct [me].”
Function: Used to let someone know that you welcome comments and criticism, particularly about a project you have been working on,  your performance, etc.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “I’d love to hear some feedback from you.”, “I look forward to hearing your advice.”, “Feel free to leave some comments.” etc.

21. 你辛苦了。Nǐ xīnkǔ le.

Literally: “You’ve tasted bitterness/hardship.”
Function: Used to express gratitude for the help someone has given you.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: No real equivalent in English. The translation “You’ve worked so hard.” is acceptable, but probably sounds a little strange. In this situation an English speaker would probably just say, “Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.”

22. [某人]吃了很多苦。[Somebody] chī le hěn duō kǔ.

Literally: Somebody has eaten a lot of bitterness (hardship).”
Used to state that someone has gone through many hardships.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: Somebody‘s been through a lot.” or “Somebody has gone through a rough time.”

23. 我听你的。Wǒ tīng nǐ de.

Literally: “I’ll listen to you.”
Function: Used to express that you will listen and follow what someone does, usually for our own good.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “You’re the boss.”

24. [某人]都还给老师了。 [Something] dōu huán gěi lǎoshī le.

Literally:Something has all been given back to the teacher.”
Function: Used to indicate that everything that you’ve learnt has been forgotten.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: As far as I know, no real equivalent. “I’ve forgotten it all” would suffice as a reference translation. A native English speaker may say something like, “My French/mathematics/etc is a bit rusty” though this is not as strong as the original Chinese sentence.

25. A生了B的气。A shēng le B de qì.

Literally: “A generated anger because of B.”
Function: Used to express that you have made somebody angry. Notable because this structure in Mandarin is unusual and a little confusing for Chinese learners.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “A is angry at B.” or “A is pissed off with B.” or “B made A angry.”

26. [某事]不关[某人]的事。[Something] bù guān [somebody] de shì.

Literally:Something does not relate to the affairs of somebody.
Function: Used to (quite rudely) point out that something is not the business of someone else.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: Something is not someone’s business.”. When used as an interjection the phrases “None of your business!” or “What’s it to you?” come to mind – that’s 关你屁事?Guān nǐ pì shì? in Mandarin.

27. [某人]真够朋友。[Somebody] zhēn gòu péngyǒu.

Literally:Somebody is really an adequate friend.”
Function: Used to let someone know that you really value their friendship.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: Somebody is a true friend” or “Somebody is a real mate” in Aussie English.

28. 话不是这么说。Huà bù shì zhème shuō.

Literally: “It is not said like this.”
Function: Used to gently disagree with someone.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “I don’t really think that’s the case.”

29. 可不是吗? Kě bù shì ma?

Literally: “How can it not be?”
Similar phrase in Chinese: 谁说不是呢 Shéi shuō bu shì ne (“Who doesn’t say that’s the case?”) or 就是 jiùshì (“Indeed!”)
Function: Used to express your strong agreement about something.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Definitely!” or “Absolutely!”

30. 哪儿跟哪儿? Nǎr gēn nǎr?

Literally: “Where compared to where?”
Function: Used to express doubt about the relationship of two things which you think are not related.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “I don’t see the connection” or “What’s that got to do with it?”

31. 真有你的。Zhēn yǒu nǐ de.

Literally: 真 (“really”) + 有 (“you”) + 你的 (“your [skill; talent]”)
Function: Used to express your admiration of someone’s skill or talent.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “You’re really awesome.” or “You’re really something else.”

32. 看情况。Kàn qíngkuàng.

Literally: “Look at the situation.”
Function: Used to express uncertainty about a certain situation.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Play it by ear” or “It depends” depending on situation

33. 谁跟谁啊?Shéi gēn shéi a?

Literally: “Who with who ah?”
Similar phrase in Chinese: 别见外 Bié jiànwài (“Don’t act like an outsider.”)
Function: Used to remind the other person that you are good friends with them, to get them to stop being so polite or to get them to reveal to you something you want to know.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Come on, we’re friends aren’t we?”

34. [某事]包在我身上。[Something] bāo zài wǒ shēnshang.

Literally:Something‘s package is on my person.”
Function: Used to let someone know that you will take absolute responsibility for a certain task.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Leave it all to me and I’ll make it happen.”

35. [某人]不是东西[Somebody] bù shì dōngxi.

Literally:Somebody is not a thing.”
Function: Used to insult someone.
Near-equivalent phrase in English:Somebody is good-for-nothing.”


Advanced Level

36. 就那么回事。Jiù nàme huí shì.

Literally: “That’s how it was.”
Function: To state that something is mediocre or average.
Near-equivalent phrases in English: “Not that great.” or “Average.”

37. [某人]死的心都有。[Somebody] sǐ de xīn dōu yǒu.

Literally: Somebody even has a dead heart.” (As if their heart is dead.)
Function: Used to express somebody’s desperation, disappointment and/or grief.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: Somebody is torn apart.”

38. 爱谁谁! Ài shéishéi!

Literally: “Love who who!”
Function: Used to express indifference.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Whatever!” or “Who cares!”

39. [某人]不好那口。[Somebody] bù hào nà kǒu.

Literally:Somebody is not well (used to) that mouth.”
Function: Used to express that someone does not share a particular hobby or fondness for something.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: Somebody is not into that.” or “That’s not somebody’s thing.”

40. 不要放在心上。Bù yào fàng zài xīn shàng.

Literally: “Don’t put [it] in [your] heart.”
Function: Used to advise someone to not continue thinking about an unpleasant topic.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Don’t take it to heart.”

41. 请你多多包涵。Qǐng nǐ duōduō bāohan.

Literally: “Please forgive [me] much.”
Function: Said before or after you do or say something which you think may hurt or offend others.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Please forgive me.” or “Please bear with me.”

42. 给[某人]点儿颜色看看。Gěi [somebody] diǎnr yánsè kàn kàn.

Literally: “Give somebody a little colour (facial expression) to see.”
Function: Used to express someone’s ferociousness, to intimidate someone, usually to warn them that they are tough and not to be offended.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “Teach someone a lesson.”

43. [某人]的鼻子气歪了。[Somebody] de bízi qì wāi le.

Literally:Somebody‘s nose is crooked with anger.”
Function: Used to express how angry someone is.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: “He’s really pissed off.”

44. [关于某事]打一个问号。[About something] dǎ yī gè wènhào.

Literally:About something [I] write a question mark.”
Function: Used to express doubt about something.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: Not sure of an idiomatic equivalent; a basic translation is “to be unsure about something.”

45. [某人]也有今天[Somebody] yě yǒu jīntiān.

Literally:Somebody also has today.”
Function: Used to state that someone has gotten comeuppance for a wrong deed.
Near-equivalent phrase in English: Somebody will get his/her just deserts.” or “Somebody has got what he/she deserves.”

54 Comments to "45 Mandarin Sentences with Chinese Characteristics"

  1. 09/02/2012 - 1:14 am | Permalink

    One that has stuck out to me since starting to learn Mandarin is the “了沒?” ending, which is often seen in advertisements. The first one I saw was 你今天玩Wii了沒?Which is literally “Have you played Wii today, or not?”

    • Rachel's Gravatar Rachel
      09/05/2015 - 7:59 am | Permalink

      @DaveFlynn “了沒?” is more like “…yet?” as apposed to “有没有?” which is more like what you are saying “…have, or not?”/”have or have not?”

  2. 09/02/2012 - 1:54 am | Permalink

    What an excellent list you have here! Definitely a lot here that will be useful.

  3. Alan's Gravatar Alan
    09/02/2012 - 8:37 am | Permalink

    These are really useful, I am convinced that the best way to start learning Chinese is with a core of simple words that can be re-used, and the best place to use them is around the dinner table! Stuff like “你吃饭了吗?” and “我不是说你” are great because they are quite advanced concepts formed around simple re-usable words.

    By the way “I’m not having a go at you.” is UK English- the Aussies have inherited a lot of our expressions, as well as our taste for salted yeast extract and beer.

  4. Vlad Corduneanu's Gravatar Vlad Corduneanu
    09/02/2012 - 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for your work! I subscribed to the feed, and just got the blog update in Google reader today! It’s absolutely awesome! Very, very helpful! Great work, I can learn a lot from it!

  5. 09/02/2012 - 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Baa, each time you post I always wish I’d thought of it first. Such good, useful content. Somebody ought to make an Anki deck of these, I think. I would put them in Skritter but Skritter’s better for characters and words alone.

  6. Jean's Gravatar Jean
    10/02/2012 - 2:52 am | Permalink

    Hi Carl,

    On 你辛苦了: I would say this sentence is said to show appreciation of the hard work, it does not have to be a “thank you” (even if it often is). The example I have in mind is a housewife greeting her husband after a long day of work.

    Also, how would difference between 你辛苦了 and 辛苦你了?

    • Shu's Gravatar Shu
      10/02/2012 - 6:00 am | Permalink

      你辛苦了 does express the speaker’s gratitude toward the person who did the work for him or her. For example, if a person helps you with painting your living room all day, then you can say 真是辛苦你了。It is fine to add 谢谢你 after it.
      The difference between 你辛苦了 and 辛苦你了:
      The meaning is the same. However, look at the word order — What the speaker emphasizes is usually put at the beginning of the sentence. So, in 你辛苦了, the emphasis is ** you**, while in 辛苦你了, the emphasis is 辛苦.

    • Steven's Gravatar Steven
      30/05/2012 - 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Sometimes 辛苦你了 can be used before someone has gone through all the trouble. For example, if you ask your friend to do something for you and he agrees. You can say “谢谢,辛苦你啦” even though he hasn’t done it.

  7. 10/02/2012 - 2:55 am | Permalink

    Very nice, although I’m curious as to how you classified the difficulty, and it might be more useful to separate out the formal utterances from the colloquialisms. One of the biggest downfalls of otherwise rather fluent non-native speakers in Chinese is to speak in an inappropriate register for the context. I usually get away with it by pretending to be ironic 😛 at least when I catch myself being overly formal. The one here I’ve never heard before is 都还给老师了, I assume that’s not something you say to your teacher! It could be a typo that in the Chinese you precede it with [某人] although you go on to explain that it should be replaced with a subject of knowledge. 我日语和德语都还给老师了。

    • Steven's Gravatar Steven
      30/05/2012 - 5:07 pm | Permalink

      You’re right. But this expression is quite common in China. Like 别提了,我的数学都还给老师了。

  8. 10/02/2012 - 3:00 am | Permalink

    I love number 42. I had a student in Shanghai attempt to use that in English to me. He literally said, “I will give him colors to see see!” Then he giggled. Of course I was very very confused and it took a while for him to explain it to me… now it’s a joke that MX and I often tell each other…

  9. Shu's Gravatar Shu
    10/02/2012 - 5:47 am | Permalink

    This is a very nice and helpful list. Thank you for taking the time writing it; a lot of people can benefit from it.

  10. Msu's Gravatar Msu
    10/02/2012 - 6:25 pm | Permalink



  11. Kaiwen's Gravatar Kaiwen
    12/02/2012 - 6:56 am | Permalink

    Re: 13. 我不是说你。Wǒ bù shì shuō nǐ.
    Function: Used to reassure someone that, despite what you may have said, you don’t mean to criticise them.
    不是我说你 / 我不是说你 can be used quite like “no offense (, but …)” to preface something critical you’re about to say

  12. 12/02/2012 - 11:49 pm | Permalink

    A passable translation for “还给老师了”is perhaps “(something) found its way back to the teacher?

    By the way, 死的心都有 is less common than 想死的心都有.

  13. Joseph's Gravatar Joseph
    13/02/2012 - 6:15 am | Permalink

    An excellent list! 我已经把好几个上面的句子放在我的Anki里。很谢谢你carlgene!

  14. Bo's Gravatar Bo
    13/02/2012 - 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Depending on your context, “至于吗?” can have other meaings. Example: “就这么点小事儿,至于吗?”, meaning that thing that happened to you is not even worth talking about.

  15. Alec's Gravatar Alec
    16/02/2012 - 1:58 pm | Permalink

    Another fantastic post, and very useful. Thanks a lot!

    Just a point on No. 35 ([某人]不是东西。) The truth about this sentence from what I’ve heard is that 东西 doesn’t mean “thing” but rather refers to “east and west”, as this was a way of saying “You’re neither east nor west” (ie. “you’re nothing!”). This theory is backed up here (http://wenwen.soso.com/z/q216851795.htm?sp=1476) but it’s something a lot of Chinese don’t know either apparently. Anyway, because of this, 东西 is pronounced dōngxī rather than dōngxi. I was told this by a Chinese actor from Beijing, so he’s more aware of correct tones than the average Chinese person. Would be interested if people are aware of which tones are correct here, and if that’s how people say this or not.

    • Anni's Gravatar Anni
      23/03/2012 - 1:21 am | Permalink

      东西 here is pronounced dōngxi and means a thing. I don’t know its origin but I don’t buy the answers from wen wen soso, neither do most Chinese adults.
      I have to say 不是东西 is an interjection of moral criticism, though. It is use to indicate someone have done something really bad (especially to his close friends, parents, kids, spouses, siblings, etc.) like abuse, maltreatment, abandoning, cheating, deceiving, acting rude to the elders, etc.

  16. 16/02/2012 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Smart list!

    Let me donate one too:

    有没有搞错? yǒu méiyǒu gǎocuò?
    Literally: “Are you wrong or not?”
    Function: Used to tell people that they’re not just wrong, they’re very wrong .
    Near-equivalent phrase in English: “What’s wrong with you?!”

  17. Jo's Gravatar Jo
    17/02/2012 - 12:45 am | Permalink

    I love #49. Also popular is 有事打电话。 And 有事法短信。 Thanks for taking the time to put this list together. I’m a fan of your blog.

  18. Warren's Gravatar Warren
    20/02/2012 - 8:31 pm | Permalink

    不好那口 I think the hao should be the 4th tone here (in which case the bu would have 2nd tone). Can someone please confirm? Thanks 🙂

    • Anni's Gravatar Anni
      23/03/2012 - 1:29 am | Permalink

      Yeah, you’re right.
      In the 4th tone, 好 means “love/like”. Try it and it’d be easier to understand many idioms.
      Hope Cal can correct this error ASAP.

  19. 27/02/2012 - 8:30 am | Permalink

    Nice to see you back, Carlgene.

    Expressions that might be added are 看你的 (very similar to 我听你的) and 你说呢?

  20. Anni's Gravatar Anni
    22/03/2012 - 11:50 pm | Permalink

    9. 别送了 is not very a polite way. In fact, the word 别 express a casual attitude. It is often used when natives (especially nortern speakers) are talking with someone (in some level) close to them or when they’re feeling too annoyed/ irrated to keep it in a polite way.
    In this case, to express 请留步 in another polite way, you should say 不用送了
    Great blog by the way!

  21. Anni's Gravatar Anni
    23/03/2012 - 12:41 am | Permalink

    They means differently and are used in different situations.
    我不是说你 Strangely, when native speakers use this sentence, they have great chances to actual state “I MEAN YOU!” in a satiric way . Even if Chinese use its original meaning, they often say 我不是说你 when they realize you are somehow connected to the piont. So yeah, it means “No offence.” in most situations, but when you use it, the listeners always feel offenced.
    我不怪你 indicates “I know what you’ve done and I forgive you”. It’s totally different from 我不是说你. And in some cases, it express kind of negative emotion: Eg.现在一切都晚了,再说何用?我不怪你,我只怪命。
    Hope it helps!

    • Steven's Gravatar Steven
      30/05/2012 - 5:03 pm | Permalink

      In my opinion 我不是说你 is sort of like “with due respect”, when you hear that, you know the other person is going to criticize you. 我不怪你 however means just that, “I don’t blame you”.

  22. Anni's Gravatar Anni
    23/03/2012 - 1:43 am | Permalink

    33. 谁跟谁啊?
    Always used in this way:
    Please note that 谁跟谁啊 itself means quite similarly to 哪儿跟哪儿啊, both conveying a signal of confusion.

  23. Anni's Gravatar Anni
    23/03/2012 - 2:27 am | Permalink

    Another fact about Chinese:
    When they say 慢走, they have a subtext of “不送”.
    Chinese often see friends off, whitch means they will follow you to until you get to their gate outside the house, seeing you get on your car, or get to the nearest bus stop and make sure you get on your bus. It troubles a lot of westerners but Chinese think it’d be improper to don’t see friends or guests off and it’s kinda rude.
    However, they’ll not necessarily both go out. The one stay at home (hostress, usually) will say “慢走”, wave to you and stand at the door way until he or she can’t see you.
    Hope it helps!

    • Steven's Gravatar Steven
      30/05/2012 - 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Not necessarily. When I say 慢走, sometimes I’ve already walked my friends out of my home and onto the street. It can be used like “goodbye” whether or not you see the guests off.

  24. Lukas's Gravatar Lukas
    01/05/2012 - 3:43 am | Permalink

    39. [某人]不好那口。[Somebody] bù hǎo nà kǒu.
    Function: Used to express that someone does share a particular hobby or fondness for something.

    A “not” seems to be missing in that sentence above. Doesn’t 某人不好那口 mean that somebody does NOT share a particular hobby or fondness?

    A very, very useful list! Thank you very much! I really like your blog!

  25. Steven's Gravatar Steven
    30/05/2012 - 4:55 pm | Permalink

    I like this article. But “I’d love to hear some feedback from you.”, “I look forward to hearing your advice.”, “Feel free to leave some comments.” none of the translation above is even near enough for 请教一下

    请教一下 is something like “Excuse me” or “Can I ask you a question?” Because a question would come after the expression.

    For example, A is a student and B is a teacher. Then there can be conversation like this:

    A: 请教一下,这道题怎么做?

    So 请教一下 is more like 请问, though 请问 can be used more widely. (I would prefer to say 请问 rather than 请问一下)

  26. Steven's Gravatar Steven
    30/05/2012 - 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Also, #39 the pronunciation of 好 in 不好那口 should be hào , meaning “like” or “enjoy”

  27. Irving's Gravatar Irving
    05/06/2012 - 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi Carl, in phrase 31 有 gets trans*lated* as “you”, but that’s just the trans*literation*. Shouldn’t the translation read “have”? 🙂

  28. Irving's Gravatar Irving
    05/06/2012 - 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Plus, wouldn’t #45 have an equivalent in http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/a+question+mark+over?

    Btw: Great list! I’m luvin it. I’ve learned Chinese for 5 years (on and off), been in China three times, but I had no clue about most of your sentences. 你吃了很多苦!

  29. 05/10/2012 - 5:09 pm | Permalink

    This is by far my favorite post and I love a lot of your posts. Over the last month, about half of my study time is related to your blog in some way. I like the content of the listening practices (lots of useful phrases and difficult but useful words) and not too fast for an intermediate level.
    I wish we could get a sequal to this post, useful chengyu and also the rest of the 100 very chinese words list.

    Another suggestion is follow up posts to the long word lists (such as 135 personality traits and occupations post) with a reading that uses a lot of the vocabulary.

    Thanks a lot for this blog!

  30. jaycee chua's Gravatar jaycee chua
    14/03/2013 - 2:47 am | Permalink

    thank you so much!!

  31. hongcha's Gravatar hongcha
    18/03/2013 - 5:07 am | Permalink

    Just wanted to let you know that your blog is freaking awesome. (and that I would love to see more posts like this one. — would you being willing to do something like “Phrases often heard while in the taxi?”)

  32. David Lloyd-Jones's Gravatar David Lloyd-Jones
    18/04/2013 - 1:31 am | Permalink


    Thank you for this very fine and useful list.

    What jumps out of the page at you, uh, me, is your stunningly good judgment both in what you choose and in how you interpret it. Well done: you’re a real hickory staff to lean on for me the learner!


    “Hickory staff”? Hmm. Past years of mountain walking with Japanese and Swiss, I guess. 🙂 Hongcha’s “freaking awesome” is better… -d.

  33. 21/08/2014 - 5:42 pm | Permalink

    Definitely bookmarking this website 我只会说一点点!. My wifes chinese but been too lazy lately to study :(.

  34. Mike's Gravatar Mike
    01/07/2015 - 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Life changing. 真有你的!

  35. 04/11/2015 - 8:38 pm | Permalink

    In traditional Chinese towns, most families didn’t have their own toilets, they’d share communal facilities, and it was common to greet your neighbors as you entered or exited the communal commodes with “Have you eaten yet?” Tasteful!

  36. malcolm's Gravatar malcolm
    08/09/2017 - 5:01 pm | Permalink


    Dear Carl,

    Thanks for this great material. Here are a few comments FWIW.
    31. As mentioned by Irving, after “Literally”: ‘有 (“you”)’⇒‘有 (“have”)’
    33. I’m not convinced by “Don’t act like an outsider” as a translation for 别见外 because 见 is about sight/seeing/appearing (to be sthg) rather than doing something. I reckon “Don’t seem like an outsider” would be better.

    34. As mentioned by Msu, 包 is a verb in this context so for the literal translation it may be more accurate to put “something [to be handled] is on my body” or something similar. The funny thing is that inaccurately translating包 as “package” means the saying becomes more memorable for learners like myself.

    35. In the light of comments from Alec and Anni, could it be that dong1xi5 and dong1xi1 are both valid pronounciations here ? Perhaps with the first being more common, and the second being used by people with particular or specialised interest in 普通话.

    41. I wonder if it should be bao1han2, not bao1han5?

    You may care to update your text with these points – or not, it doesn’t matter that much! 🙂


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