Usage Checklist for Commonly Used Chinese Words
As you increase your vocabulary in any language you are learning, you will begin to notice that many words have many different meanings, some similar (and some completely opposite). For example, in English, the seemingly simple word “set” has 464 different meanings. You can set a table; you can play a set of tennis; you can set your hair to make it curly; you can wait for the pudding you just made to set before you eat it—to name just a few definitions. A similar situation can be found in Mandarin Chinese, where a word like点 (diǎn) can mean “o’clock,” or “.com,” or a way to order food (点菜, diǎn cài). And then there’s a word like让 (ràng), which can either mean to permit someone to do something or make someone do something, depending on its use in a sentence.
As you enter your intermediate level of learning Mandarin, use the handy list of links below to explore further the subtleties of meaning among different Chinese expressions. With such knowledge, you will soon be communicating like a seasoned Chinese speaker!
- 本来 (běn lái) / 原来 (yuán lái)
- 看待(kàn dài) vs 对待(duìdài) vs 招待(zhāo dài)
- 坦率 (tǎn shuài) vs 坦诚 (tǎn chéng) vs 豪爽 (háo shuǎng)
- 亲切(qīn qiè) vs 亲密(qīn mì) vs 密切(mìqiè)
- 那个(nà ge/ nèi ge)
- 好吧(hǎo ba)
- 可以(kě yǐ) / 会(huì) / 能(néng)
- 对不起(duì bù qǐ)
- 不 (bù) & 没有 (méi yǒu)
- 通过(tōng guò) VS经过(jīng guò)
- 常常(cháng cháng) VS往往(wǎng wǎng)