Mandarin Muddles 他tā 话huà 说shuō 得de 很hěn 慢màn

May 17th, 2010

他tā 话huà 说shuō 得de  很hěn 慢màn 。v.s. 请qǐng 把bă 话huà 说shuō 慢màn 点diăn 儿r 。v.s. 他tā 话huà 说shuō得de  慢màn 了le 点diăn 儿r 。

He speaks slowly. v.s. please speak slower. v.s. He speaks too slowly.

说shuō 得dé 很hěn 慢màn , 说shuō 慢màn 点diăn and 说shuō 得de 慢màn 了le 点diăn do not have the same meaning, although they look 差chà 不bù 多duō (more or less the same).

他tā 话huà 说shuō 得dé 很hěn 慢màn simply states the reality that He speaks very slowly. The sentence pattern is ‘Verb 得de 很hěn adjective’.

请qǐng 把bă 话huà 说shuō 得de 慢màn 点diăn 儿r 。The sentence pattern ‘Verb 得de Adjective 一yì 点diăn 儿r’  expresses the hope/ order/ requirement that Please speak slower.

The third sentence pattern is ‘Verb 得de adjective了le  点diăn 儿r ‘ It expresses a complaint or unsatisfactory feelings; 他tā 话huà 说shuō 得de 慢màn 了le 点diăn 儿rHe speaks a bit slow (I wish he would speak a bit quicker.).

Compare the following three sentences:

我wǒ 动dòng 作zuò 一yí 向xiàng 很hěn 慢màn  。I do things slowly.

动dòng 作zuò 慢màn  点diăn 儿r ,别bié 摔shuāi 倒dăo 了le !Slow down! Don’t trip over.

我wǒ 动dòng 作zuò 慢màn 了le 点diăn 儿ér ,东dōng 西xī 全quán 都dōu 被bèi 拿ná 光guāng 了le 。I was too slow, Everything has been taken.

日rì 常cháng 用yòng 语yŭ: 马mă 虎hū

April 23rd, 2010

他tā 做zuò 事shì 一yí 向xiàng 很hěn 马mă 虎hū 。

He usually does things sloppily.

你nǐ 别bié 跟gēn 我wǒ 打dă 马mă 虎hū 眼yăn 。

Talk properly! (Don’t give grudging monosyllabic replies! or Give me the details not just the surface.)

做zuò 事shì means literally ‘to do things’.

马mă 虎hū  You probably have heard the expression 马mă 马mă 虎hū 虎hū before which means ‘O.K. nothing special’.  It connotes ‘sloppiness/ imperfection’ . 打dă 马mă 虎hū 眼yăn means to answer someone’s questions reluctantly and without revealing details.


日rì 常cháng 用yòng 语yŭ

April 21st, 2010

他tā 整zhěng  天tiān 无wú 所suǒ 事shì 事shì ,不bú 是shì 吃chī 饱băo 睡shuì ,就jiù 是shì 睡shuì 饱băo 吃chī 。

He hangs around all day eating and sleeping.

整zhěng 天tiān is ‘the whole day/ all day long’.

无wú 所suǒ 事shì 事shì is an idiom meaning ‘nothing to do/ hanging around’.

不bú 是shì …… 就jiù 是shì ….. If not ….., then ….

饱băo means ‘full’; 吃chī 饱băo means ‘full up (with food) and 睡shuì 饱băo means ‘fully rested (with sleep)’.

吃chī 饱băo 睡shuì ,睡shuì 饱băo 吃chī literally means ‘have enough food then sleep, and have enough sleep then eat’. In other words: He is a lazy bum!

Mandarin Muddles: Using the 把bă pattern

April 7th, 2010

他tā 打dă 破pò 杯bēi 子zi 。v.s. 他tā 把bă 杯bēi 子zi 打dă 破pò 了le 。

He broke the glass (cup).

打dă 破pò is to break something into pieces, usually unintentionally.

杯bēi 子zi is glass or cup (both are the same in Chinese)

Although these two sentences mean the same thing that ‘He broke the glass (cup); ‘, the emphasis is different.  The 把bă sentence pattern emphasizes: Something has been changed or influenced by an action. Therefore the result is the ‘key point’.

The 把bă sentence patter is:

Subject + 把bă + object + result

他tā 把bă 桌zhuō 子zi 搬bān 到dào 房fáng 里lǐ 。He has moved the desk/ table into the room.

我wǒ 把bă 蛋dàn 糕gāo 切qiē 成chéng 12片piàn 。I have cut the cake into 12 pieces.

儿ér 子zi 把bă 屋wū 子zi 打dă 扫săo 得de 乾gān 乾gān 净jìng 净jìng 。(My/ Our) Son has cleaned the room (not just cleaned, thoroughly cleaned).

请qǐng 你nǐ 把bă 报bào 纸zhǐ 还huán 给gěi 我wǒ 。 Please give the newspaper back to me.

The common mistakes you might see:

他tā 放fàng 那nà 本běn 书shū 在zài 桌zhuō 上shàng 。 It should be: 他tā 把bă 那nà 本běn 书shū 放fàng 在zài 桌zhuō 上shàng 。(He put the book on the table/desk.)

他tā 把bă 这zhè 封fēng 信xìn 写xiě 了le It should be: 他tā 把bă 这zhè 封fēng 信xìn 写xiě 好hăo 了le (He has finished writing the letter.) It needs the result 好hăo (finished).

别bié 忘wàng 了le 把bă 照zhào 相xiàng 机jī 带dài 。 It should be: 别bié 忘wàng 了le 把bă 照zhào 相xiàng 机jī 带dài  来lái 。(Don’t forget to bring the camera over.) It needs the result 来lái (over here).

Mandarin Muddles

March 25th, 2010

他tā 不bù 能néng 开kāi 车chē  。v.s.

他tā 不bú 会huì 开kāi 车chē 。

Both sentences mean ‘He cannot drive’, but 不bù 能néng indicates that there is a condition which causes the result that ‘he cannot drive’. For example, 他tā 喝hē 酒jiŭ ,不bù 能néng 开kāi 车chē 。(He drank, so that he cannot drive.)  他tā 太tài 太tai 要yào 用yòng 车chē ,所suǒ 以yǐ 他tā 不bù 能néng 开kāi 车chē 。(His wife needs to use the car, so he cannot drive.)

会huì means ‘to be able to’ and the ability is acquired. 他tā 不bú 会huì 开kāi 车chē, the sentence alone without explanation literally means ‘He’ hasn’t acquired the ability to drive’.

However, 会huì also indicates ‘might’ , i.e. strong possibility. 明míng 天tiān 会huì 下xià 雨yŭ 。Therefore, 不bú 会huì also means ‘impossible to’. For example, 他tā 明míng 天tiān 不bú 会huì 来lái ,他tā 不bù 喜xǐ 欢huān 热rè 闹nào 。(He won’t come tomorrow, he does not like noise/ many people gathering.) 他tā 明míng 天tiān 不bù 能néng 来lái ,因yīn 为wèi 他tā 生shēng 病bìng 了le 。(He cannot come tomorrow, because he is ill.) The illness causes the result that he cannot come, even though he would really like to come.

Mandarin Muddles

March 23rd, 2010

她tā 很hěn 漂piào 亮liàng 。v.s.她tā 是shì 很hěn 漂piào 亮liàng 。

She is pretty. v.s. She ‘is’ very pretty.

In the very early stages of  learning Chinese, you learned that Chinese adjectives act like verbs which do not need the Be-verb. She is pretty. 她tā 很hěn 漂piào 亮liàng 。I’m busy. 我wǒ 很hěn 忙máng 。Things are expensive here. 这zhè 儿r 东dōng 西xi 很hěn 贵guì 。

However, when you want to emphasize that something or someone ‘is’ very ……, you can use 是shì. Usually, it is used to agree with someone’s opinion. e.g. A:台tái 湾wān 夏xià 天tiān 很hěn 热rè 。Taiwan is hot in the summer. B:是shì 很hěn 热rè 。It is very hot. 听tīng 说shuō 义yì 大dà 利lì 人rén 很hěn 热rè 情qíng 。I heard Italians are passionate. 对duì ,是shì 非fēi 常cháng 热rè 情qíng 。Yes, (They) are very passionate.

日rì 常cháng 用yòng 语yŭ

March 18th, 2010

请qǐng 你nǐ 把bă 资zī 料liào  e 给gěi 我wǒ 。

Please email me the information/ material.

资zī 料liào is information or (abstract) material.

Like many other languages, modern Chinese borrows from English. In many cases, the English words are kept or partially kept and used in the Chinese way. For example, the sentence here ‘e’ is from ’email’.

Another classic example is: O 不 OK?(Is it O.K.? 这个我很 OK 啊。(This is fine with me.)

Mandarin Muddles

March 3rd, 2010

他tā 不bú 但dàn 很hěn 胖pàng 也yě 很hěn 矮ăi

他tā 不bú 但dàn 很hěn 胖pàng 而ér 且qiě 很hěn 矮ăi 。

He is not only fat but also short.

Although 不bú 但dàn ……也yě and 不bú 但dàn ….而ér 且qiě are both translated as ‘not only ……but also’, 不bú 但dàn ……也yě can only be used to connect two clauses; not two adjectives. e.g.

他tā 不bú 但dàn 脸liăn 红hóng 了le ,耳ěr 朵duǒ 也yě 红hóng 了le 。Not only is he blushing, but his ears are also red.

她tā  不bú 但dàn 会huì 赚zhuàn 钱qián ,(她tā )也yě 会huì 理lǐ 家jiāNot only can she earn a living, but she can also run the family.

不bú 但dàn …..而ér 且qiě can only used with the same subject. e.g.

她tā 不bú 但dàn 会huì 赚zhuàn 钱qián 而ér 且qiě 会huì 理lǐ 家jiā 。

他tā 不bú 但dàn 脸liăn 红hóng 了le ,而ér 且qiě 耳ěr 朵duo 红hóng 了le 。(The subjects are 脸liăn and 耳ěr 朵duo )

But you can use 不bú 但dàn …而ér 且qiě ….也yě : 他tā 不bú 但dàn 脸liăn 红hóng 了le ,而ér 且qiě 耳ěr 朵duo 也yě 红hóng 了le 。

Mandarin Muddles

March 1st, 2010

朝cháo v.s. 向xiàng v.s.往wăng

All three of them mean ‘towards’.

我wǒ 们mén 一yì 直zhí 朝cháo /向xiàng /往wăng 东dōng 走zǒu 了le 大dà 半bàn 天tiān 才cái 找zhăo 到dào 这zhè 儿ēr 。We went towards the east for a long while, and finally found this place.

他tā 不bù 小xiăo 心xīn 打dă 破pò 了le 杯bēi 子zi ,大dà 夥huǒ 儿ér 都dōu 朝cháo /向xiàng /往wăng 他tā 那nà 儿er  看kàn 。He accidentally broke a cup (glass), and everybody  looked towards where he was.

However, 朝cháo can be used as a verb, meaning ‘to face a direction’; e.g. His house faces south. 他tā 的de 房fáng 子zǐ 朝cháo 南nán 。

And 往wăng can be used only with a location after it. The sentence above ,’…….往wăng 他tā 那nà 儿er 看kàn ‘ can not be said 往wăng 他tā 看kàn while 朝cháo /向xiàng 他tā 看kàn is absolutely correct.

The sentence pattern 往wăng …..一yī ….. indicates a verb of  movement towards a location; e.g. 他tā 把bă 水shuǐ 杯bēi 往wăng 桌zhuō 上shàng 一yí 放fàng ,就jiù 跑păo 掉diào 了le 。He put the glass on the table, and then (he) disappeared.  他tā 回huí 到dào 家jiā ,把bă 包bāo  往wăng 地dì 上shàng 一yì 扔rēng ,就jiù 往wăng 厕cè 所suǒ 跑păo 。He came home, threw the bag on the floor and rushed to the toilet.

日rì 常cháng 用yòng 语yŭ

February 24th, 2010

我wǒ 们mén 这zhè 儿ēr 冬dōng 天tiān通tōng 常cháng 不bú 大dà 下xià 雪xuě ,今jīn 年nián 冬dōng 天tiān 反făn 常cháng 下xià 了le 不bù 少shăo  雪xuě 。

It normally doesn’t snow much here in the winter, but this year it’s (unusually) snowed a lot.

我wǒ 们mén 这zhè 儿ēr literally means ‘we here’. It indicates the place where the speaker is located.

冬dōng 天tiān is ‘winter’.

通tōng 常cháng  means ‘normally’ and ‘usually’.

不bú 大dà means ‘not often’.

下xià 雪xuě literally means ‘to drop snow’.

反făn 常cháng literally means ‘against the 常cháng (usual, normal)’, so it means ‘unusual’ in the sense of not usual or normal behavior.

不bù 少shăo means ‘quite a lot’.