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Teach Yourself Chinese

Teach Yourself Chinese: Our blog was created to provide insights into China, the Chinese language and culture. Here you will find tips that can help you settle into your new life in China, or to find your way around as you travel around the country.

As shopping plays such an important role in Chinese people’s daily lives, it’s not surprising that there are several ways to say “shopping” in Chinese. In this article, we take a look at 4 most popular Chinese words and phrases related to shopping!   Chinese Shoppers These days, tourists from China can be seen everywhere...
Chinese learners often struggle with polyphones – characters with two or more pronunciations. In this article, we will look at 5 common Chinese polyphones.   Chinese Polyphones: One Character, Two Meanings In simple words, polyphones are Chinese characters which, depending on the context, have two or more pronunciations. Chinese polyphones often make a sentence (or even the...
Very often in Chinese, you will come across words that share the same pronunciation, but are written using different characters – the so-calles Chinese homonyms. In this article, we are going to take a look at 4 pairs of homonyms, which are frequently used in both daily conversations and in academic topics.   Same Sound,...
Sometimes, you can create two different words by putting two of the same Chinese characters into a different order.  In this article, we are going to take a look at 5 examples of reversible Chinese words.   Same Characters, Different Meaning It’s believed that a Chinese learner should master around 3500 frequently-used Chinese characters to be able to...
A modal or exclamative particle is an important grammatical concept in Chinese. Adding different exclamative particles at the end of your sentences can help you make your speech more vivid – and consequently, make conversations more effective. Using appropriate Chinese exclamative particles, combined with correct intonation, is an essential way to share your feelings with other people. In...
If you had a chance to talk to many Chinese locals, you might have noticed that people from different regions speak Chinese with different accents. Mandarin Chinese in the South and North can be slightly different sometimes. On one hand, it’s a relief – you don’t have to worry too much if don’t understand some...
Even if you started to learn Chinese yesterday, you must have already picked up the famous Chinese greeting which means “hello”: 你好 nǐ hǎo. Well, if we take a look at these two characters separately, it turns out that 你 nǐ means “you”, and 好 hǎo means “good”. As the literal meaning of 你好 nǐ hǎo is “you good”, it can be...
In this article, we will take a look at some of the typical and most common Chinese radicals. Importance of Learning Chinese Radicals Unlike in European languages, in Chinese, words are represented by characters. Statistically, there are around 3500 commonly-used Chinese characters. And from time to time, Chinese learners get “awe-struck” when facing some of...
Our life is full of uncertainties and surprises, therefore it’s always good to learn how to express your own feelings in words when you feel surprised about something. Today we will teach you for simple words that may come in handy when you feel “shocked”.   1. 天啊(tiān a): Oh god! “天(tiān)” means “sky” or...
1. Loser 屌丝 Diǎo sī Loser Let’s break it down: 屌 (diǎo): male genital organ 丝 (sī): silk (in this case it means “fur”) 屌丝 (diǎo sī) is the opposite of the famous phrase “高富帅(gāo fù shuài)”, which means “tall, rich, handsome”. It’s commonly used to describe a man as “short, poor, ugly”. In general,...
“hé shì(合适)”  and  “shì hé(适合)” sometimes also cause trouble to Chinese learners as both words consist of exactly the same characters, the only difference is the word order. In addition, their meanings are very similar, what you need to remember is that “hé shì(合适)” is an adjective, meaning “suitable”, whereas “shì hé(适合)” is a verb, which...
“jiàn (见)” and “jiàn miàn (见面)” both mean “to meet, to see”. However, in order to express “A meets B”, the structures used are A + jiàn (见) + B and A + hé(和) + B + jiàn miàn (见面) respectively. Let’s have a look at some examples: English I want to see you. Chinese...
 In English, it’s common to see phrases like “a beautiful park”, “an interesting person”, “a big room”, etc. You don’t need to put anything between an adjective and a noun in these cases. In Chinese, things get a bit more complicated. You might need to insert a “de(的)” between an adjective and a noun, depending...
Some Chinese learners also mix up “hái shì(还是)” with “huò zhě(或者)” as they both mean “or”. However, there is a big difference between “hái shì(还是)” and “huò zhě(或者)” when it comes to the usage of these two words. “hái shì(还是)” is usually used to ask questions such as “Do you want to drink tea or...
In Chinese, both “bù(不)” and “méi(没)” can be used to negate a verb. However, when it comes to the verb “to have”, which is “yǒu(有)”, you can only say “méi yǒu(没有)” to express the negatives “not have”. NEVER EVER say “bù yǒu(不有)”, because there is no such word. Here are some simple examples for you...
When Chinese learners are making sentences, they sometimes have problems with the unfamiliar sentence structure. As a beginner, learning these four structures by heart will help you avoid committing grammatical mistakes when creating simple Chinese sentences: Structure No.1: subject + verb + object English I am going to school. Chinese (Pinyin) wǒ  qù  xué xiào。...
Many Chinese learners are told that “ma(吗)” is used at the end to form a question. However, this statement is not always correct even when creating basic questions. “Ma(吗)” needs to be added at the end of a yes-no question only. For questions like “Where are you?”, “What time is it?”, there is no need...
The Chinese word “hé(和)” is another basic, but important word which is often misused by Chinese learners. Although its equivalent meaning in English is indeed “and”, when it comes to the usage of this word, we need to get rid of our “English way of thinking”. In English, the word “and” can connect nouns, adjectives,...
One of the first verbs that beginners encounter on their Chinese-learning journey is the verb “to be”, which is pronounced as “shì(是)”. It is equivalent to “am, is, are” in the present tense and “was, were” in the future tense. However, you should not use “shì 是” in the same way you use it in...