Archive for the ‘Colloquial Chinese’ Category

A:” Hi, how are you?”
B:” I am fine, and you?
A:”I am fine, too. Thank you!”

My Senior High School textbook illustrates what Chinese consider as a typical Western greeting pattern.

But in everyday life, this greeting mode is seldom used. This situation happens in Chinese as well.

In Chinese, 你忙吗?[ni3 mang2 ma](Are you busy?) or 你最近怎么样?[ni3 zui4 jin4 zen3 me yang4] (How are you doing?) are not the most popular or authentic greetings for friends.

Next, several local and authentic greeting sentences will be displayed which are used by students in general.

  • “去哪儿?” [qu4 nar3] (Where are you heading to?)  This greeting can be extended into “去哪儿?去上班?”
  • “去干嘛呢?”[qu4 gan4 ma2 ne] (What are you going to do?)
  •  “课多吗?”[ke4 duo1 ma] (Do you have a lot of uni work?) This one is for students as well.



The hottest new word in China is 给力 [gei3 li4], an adjective meaning “awesome”. 

Nowadays, it is widely used on the internet, in text messages and on QQ.

Jiangsu province even used it as the theme of its local Spring Festival gala.
You can use it when you want to speak highly of something or someone. 

For instance,

你穿的这件衣服太给力了。( The clothes you are wearing are amazing!)
这是个给力的星期天。(This is a wonderful Sunday!)
你太给力了! (You are awesome!)


Michael and Jing

弄[long4]  can be used as a noun which means: a lane, an alley, or an alleyway. For example ,这是一条小弄子( This is a small alley) .

However this character is often used in oral Chinese as a verb.  It can be used in the sense of: to get something; to do something; to make or to handle something.

弄 can therefore be instead of verbs such as : 做[zuo4](to make), 办[ban4](to do), 拿[na2](to grab), 取[qu3](to get). Compared to 做, 办, 拿 and 取, the verb 弄 is very informal and more colloquial.
Pay attention: when 弄 is used as a verb the pronunciation is [nong4].

Here are several examples when it is used as a verb:

今天该你饭了。/ 今天该你做饭了。 ( Today is your turn to make /cook a meal)
你去帮我点水果。/ 你去帮我拿点水果。(Help me to grab some fruit)
你把书坏了 (You broke the book) ** Here 弄 can be used instead of any actions which broke the book such as tear or throw
你可以把这件事好。/ 你可以把这件事做好。 (You can do this thing well)
我的车坏了,你帮我弄弄。/ 我的车坏了,你帮我修修。(My car doesn’t work, help me repair it)

Michael and Jing

In Chinese, the particle  一边 is used to show that two actions are occurring simultaneously.  For instance 咱们一边喝果汁, 一边聊天 (As we drink fruit juice, we chat). 

The consequent structure is [subject] +[optative verb] + [一边] + [predicate],  [一边] +[predicate].  The subject can be omitted if well-known to the speakers.

Further examples include:

我一边用QQ,一边吃些点心 (As I’m using QQ, I eat some snacks) **  For the uninitiated, QQ is a Chinese social networking website.  

她一边坐地铁,一边看报 (As she rides the subway, she reads the newspaper)

他不可以一边写英文的文章,一边练习汉子 (He can’t write an essay in English while practicing Chinese characters)

However, there exists another, more colloquial way to express simultaneous actions. 

北方人到茶馆去的时候,他们喝茶听戏。(When Northern Chinese go to a tea house, they drink tea while listening to a performance)

Here, 他们喝茶听戏 the verb-oject combinations follow each other.  However, this does create some ambiguity, as it could be interpreted that, Northern Chinese drink tea before listening to a performance.

As such, the use of 一边, although a tad formal, specifically expresses the nature of simultaneous actions.

Michael and Jing