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“Roughly speaking” in Chinese

The Chinese are famously pretty vague in giving answers. As most will readily admit, they prefer to offer estimations rather than specifics, especially if there may be consequences involved. Instead of getting frustrated, we straight-talking foreigners can benefit from adopting…

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Tackling the two opposite meanings of 让(ràng)

This article covers the character 让(ràng), a word with two virtually opposite meanings in Mandarin: to permit; to yield to make someone do/feel something; to have someone do something. Tackling these different definitions “in the wild” can be more than…

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10 ways to use点 (diǎn)

点 (diǎn) is one of those characters in Mandarin that pops-up all over the place. In the dictionary, there are multiple meanings given, including “dot”, “point”, a “small amount”. In terms of etymology, 点 is derived from the traditional character…

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Four Words that Mean “latest” in Mandarin

Do you have the latest iPhone?   What’s the latest on the U.S. presidential election campaign?   Did you see the fashions on display at the Shanghai Fashion Week?   Daily conversation so commonly revolves around the newest, the latest…

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Practical Chinese for Hospital Visits

(AKA The time I broke my elbow in China) No one wants to get sick or have an accident, but it happens – and as a foreigner in China it’s always good to be prepared. Below I’ve recounted my experience…

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Essential Phrases for your Online Chinese Class

For most of us, a driving motivation to learn spoken Mandarin is its practical application. During a Chinese class, we typically want to focus on language we can actually use “in the wild”, to buy train tickets or communicate with…

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