Friday, September 30, 2016

左 - Left

Today's Chinese word of the day is 左 which means left (the direction, not the past tense of go).

In Mandarin 左is pronounced Zuǒ.
在左邊 Zài zuǒbiān means on the left.
Next time you're in a dark place and your Chinese friend can't see you but can hear you you can answer:
我在你的左邊 Wǒ zài nǐ de zuǒbiān - I'm on your left. Unless of course you aren't... in which case fix that then say it.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

看得懂嗎 - Can you read this?

Today's Chinese word of the day is 看得懂嗎 which means Can you read this?

In Mandarin it is pronounced Kàn de dòng ma.
The first character is to see or read. The second character is a verbal compliment which changes the degree of the read character. The third character means understanding and the last character makes it a question.

Today I thought I'd share a new idea with you all. I came up with a T-Shirt design back in 2001 when I got home from Taiwan. I wrote it on a white t-shirt and used to wear it around campus while I was in college. I got a few chuckles from the chinese speakers I walked by.
If you would like to grab one of these to wear around, I put the design up on zazzle here. EDIT: Updated the de character since I had the wrong de there...

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

下 - Down/beneath

Today's Chinese word of the day is 下 which means down or beneath.

In Mandarin 下 is pronounced Xià.
As with yesterday's 上 shàng today's character has the short line below the longer horizontal to indicate down or lower position.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

上 - Up

Today's Chinese word of the day is 上 which means up or above.

In Mandarin 上 is pronounced shàng.
This character means up because the short line is above the long horizontal line.

Monday, September 26, 2016

回 - Return

Today's Chines word of the day is 回 which means return.

In Mandarin 回 is pronounced huí.
我回家 Wǒ huí jiā means I return home.
你回學校 Nǐ huí xuéxiào means You go back to school.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

去 - Go

Today's Chinese word of the day is 去 which means go.

In Mandarin 去 is pronounced qù.
我去學校 Wǒ qù xuéxiào means I go to school.
我去睡覺 Wǒ qù shuìjiào means I got to sleep.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

加油 - Add oil

Today's Chinese word of the day is 加油 which means add oil.

In Mandarin 加油 is pronounced Jiāyóu.
This not being something commonly heard in english I thought I better explain. It literally means add oil, but by oil they mean gasoline. The phrase means keep going, keep up the good work, step on it, etc. It is commonly heard when friends part ways as an encouragement.

Friday, September 23, 2016

不客氣 - You're welcome

Today's Chinese word of the day is 不客氣 which means you're welcome.

In Mandarin 不客氣 is pronounced Bù kèqì.
So after you do something nice for your Chinese neighbor and they say 谢谢 Xièxiè, you should answer 不客氣 Bù kèqì

Thursday, September 22, 2016

谢谢 - Thanks

Today's Chinese word of the day is 谢谢 which means thanks.

In Mandarin 谢谢 is pronounced Xièxiè.
谢谢你是我的朋友 Xièxiè nǐ shì wǒ de péngyǒu means thank you for being my friend.
谢谢你的帮助 Xièxiè nǐ de bāngzhù means thanks for your help.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

女兒 - Daughter

Today's Chinese word of the day is 女兒 which means daughter.

In Mandarin 女兒 is pronounced Nǚ'ér.
Yes, in pinyin there is an umlaut. It is pronounced the same way it is pronounced in German from what I understand.
The first character 女 Nǚ means female, while the second character 兒 ér means child or son. So daughter is a female child/son.

兒子 - Son

Today's Chinese word of the day is 兒子 which means son.

In Mandarin 兒子 is pronounced Érzi.
盧克,你是我的兒子 Lú kè, nǐ shì wǒ de érzi - Luke, you are my son. (Ok, I should have used the real quote when I did Father, but this is good enough...)

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

學校 - School

Today's Chinese word of the day is 學校 which means school.

In Mandarin 學校 is pronounced xuéxiào.
Note for those not familiar with pinyin pronunciation the letter x in pinyin sounds similar to the sh sound except with the teeth apart.
我在學校 Wǒ zài xuéxiào - I'm at school.
我的學校是大 Wǒ de xuéxiào shì dà - My school is big.

By the way feel free to leave me comments or e-mail me topics or words you would like me to cover in the future. Otherwise I'll just keep picking random topics at my own whim :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

在家 - At home

Today's Chinese words of the day are 在家 which mean at home.

In Mandarin 在家 is pronounced zàijiā.
I couldn't think of whether to have 在 or 家 come first today, so I decided to just put them together. It's hard to say at without saying a place and it's hard to say a place without saying at.
我在家 Wǒ zàijiā means I'm at home.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

小 - Small

Today's Chinese word of the day is 小 which means small.

In Mandarin 小 is pronounced xiǎo.
Interestingly in Chinese, combining big with small to make 大小 means size.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

大 - Big

Today's Chinese word of the day is 大 which means big.

In Mandarin 大 is pronounced dà.
我很大 Wǒ hěn dà - I am very big.
中國很大 Zhōngguó hěn dà - China is big.

Friday, September 16, 2016

了 - Finished

Today's Chinese word of the day is 了 which means finished.

In Mandarin 了 is pronounced le.
This character is special in that it isn't a verb in itself but marks other verbs as being past tense.
Though Chinese doesn't have conjugation it is sometimes useful to say something happened rather than is happening. To do this you use the 了 character. Usually this is used at the end of a sentence such as 我吃了 wǒ chīle meaning I ate. Compare that to 我吃 wǒ chī which means I am eating.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

幾 - How old

Today's Chinese word of the day is 幾 which means how old.

In Mandarin 幾 is pronounced jǐ.
你幾歲 - nǐ jǐ suì How old are you. Yesterday we learned how to say how old we are, this is the question that triggers it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

歲 - Years old

Today's Chinese word of the day is 歲 which means years old.

In Mandarin 歲 is pronounced suì.
It's not used with 是 shì but used by itself meaning am X years old.
For example 我三十六歲 Wǒ sān shí liù suì meaning I'm 36 years old.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

吃飽 - Eating (to fullness)

Today's Chinese word of the day is 吃飽 which means eat to fullness.

In Mandarin 吃飽 is pronounced chī bǎo.
It doesn't sound very useful in English but is a common question in Chinese.
吃饱了嗎 Chī bǎo le ma means Have you eaten yet.
我吃饱了 Wǒ chī bǎole means I'm full.
The first character means eat, the second means full.

Monday, September 12, 2016

美國 - America (Beautiful country)

Today's Chinese word of the day is 美國 which means America.

In mandarin 美國 is pronounced měiguó. The first character means beautiful, while the second character means country.
As with 中国人 美國 means American (as in a person from America). Note the second character is slightly different. Those are actually the same character but yesterday I got lazy and put the simplified character instead of the traditional one. I'll try to remember to always use traditional characters from now on.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

中国 - China

Today's Chinese word of the day is 中国 which means China.

In Mandarin 中国 is pronounced zhōngguó. Note for anyone not familiar with pinyin the zh is pronounced similarly to a J but with your tongue further back in your mouth.
The first character 中 zhōng means middle and the second character 国 guó means country. China's name for itself is middle country.
中国 can be used with 人 to make 中国人 zhōngguó rén meaning Chinese man or Chinese person.
我是中国人 Wǒ shì zhōngguó rén - I am a Chinese person.
我不是一個中國人 Wǒ bùshì yīgè zhōngguó rén - I am not a Chinese man.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

七八九十 - Seven, eight, nine and ten

Today's chinese words of the day are 七八九十 which mean seven, eight, nine and ten respectively.

In mandarin 七八九十 are pronounced qī bā jiǔ shí.
To wrap up numbers I thought we should finish with the last four numbers. With these all numbers from 1 to 99 can be formed.
To say eleven you simply say 十一 shíyī "ten one". Twelve is 十二 shí'èr. And so on.
Fourty two is 四十二 sìshí'èr "four ten two".
With that you should be able to make all combinations to count from 1 to 99.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

兩 - The other "two"

Today's Chinese word of the day is 兩 which means two.

In mandarin 兩 is pronounced liǎng.
Two is a bit different in chinese, there is 二 (Èr) which is used when counting as in 一二三 one, two three, yī èr sān and 兩 liǎng which is used when saying there are two of something.
兩個人 liǎng gè rén which means "two people".
兩個朋友 liǎng gè péngyǒu which means "two friends".

個 - Counting

Today's Chinese word of the day is 個 which is used with number words when counting.

In Mandarin 個 is pronounced gè.
一個人 yīgèrén means "one man".
我有三個朋友 wǒ yǒusān gè péngyǒu means "I have three friends".

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

四五六 - Four five six

Today's chinese words of the day are 四五六 which mean four, five, and six.

Discontinuing the pattern started yesterday with one, two, three. The rest of the numbers are not simply horizontal strokes in the amount of the number.
In mandarin 四五六 are pronounced sì wǔ liù.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

一 二 三 - One two three

Today's Chinese words of the day are 一 二 三 which mean one, two and three.

In Mandarin they are pronounced yī'èr sān.

Monday, September 5, 2016

工作 - Work

Today's chinese word of the day is 工作 which means work.

In mandarin 工作 is pronounced gōngzuò.
我的工作是好的 Wǒ de gōngzuò shì hǎo de - My work is good.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

朋友 - Friend

Today's chinese word of the day is 朋友 which means friend.

In mandarin 朋友 is pronounced péngyǒu.
你是我的朋友 Nǐ shì wǒ de péngyǒu - You are my friend.

Friday, September 2, 2016

很多 - A lot

Today's chinese word of the day is 很多 which means a lot.

In mandarin chinese 很多 is pronounced hěnduō.
我有很多東西 Wǒ yǒu hěnduō dōngxī - I have a lot of stuff.

The first character 很 hěn means very. The second character 多 duō means many.
很 hěn can be used with 好 hǎo to mean very good 很好 Hěn hǎo.
我很好 Wǒ hěn hǎo - I'm very good.

好 - Good

Today's chinese word of the day is 好 which means good.

In mandarin chinese 好 is pronounced hǎo. Similar to the english word "how".
我好 (Wǒ hǎo) means I'm good.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

再見 - Goodbye

Today's chinese word of the day is 再見 which means goodbye.

In mandarin 再見 is pronounced zàijiàn.
Note in pinyin the letter z is pronounced like a d with a z.
The literal meaning of zàijiàn is again see, as in see you again.