Special useful Chinese words


I’m looking help from the Chinese experts. I feel like my Chinese is improving steadily but sadly I on’t have enough time to practice ‘real’ Chinese. I used to live in Japan and my Japanese is pretty strong. I know from my experiences learning Japanese that there are a lot of small words of phrases (lexical chunks) that really boost your language ability and make you seem more natural when you speak!

I’m asking that those of you with “mad skills” nominate some words (or phrases) which can be used to great effect. Key words in Chinese, -if you like.

Some examples I know:

kau zhang

Sorry to nitpick, but getting the pronunciation right (and for that purpose, the Romanization) is pretty important IMO. So that should be
誇張 kua1zhang1, not kau, and adding tone numerals or marks is helpful.
And 亂 luan4

Also, if you add some examples of how to use these it will be much more helpful to others than just tossing the terms out there.

Nooooooooooooooo! The tones are vital!

Anyway, how about this for starters?

亂講 luan4jiang3! (You’re talking rubbish! Nonsense! Bullshit!)

[quote=“yamato”]Anyway, when I teach kids English I don’t get them doing hand gestures and what not to remember which syllable is stressed…etc…[/quote]Well, I hope you teach them correct spelling, anyway.

[quote=“yamato”]but that’s enough thread hijacking, let’s get back on topic, shall we?[/quote]OK. This one is very, very useful:
我儘量 Wo jinliang – “I’ll do my best, but no promises.”
Even better with tones: wǒ jìnliàng.

All you need to know is:

Woide didi hen da.

It means that your younger brother is a big muscled guy.
Every guy will step aside for you, every door will open for you.
No need for any other words but be careful,
you may not wish to use this with gays. :sunglasses:


扔 rēng - to toss (typically pronounced lēng on the street)

How about one or two examples of how to use it? I don’t recall anyone rēnging their cookies after a hard night drinking, for instance. :laughing:

How about one or two examples of how to use it? I don’t recall anyone rēnging their cookies after a hard night drinking, for instance. :laughing:[/quote]
The infant joesax used to reng his cookies frequently, causing worry to his mum.

As for my phrase, you can say “wo jinliang” when you really don’t know whether you can finish something in the timeframe that’s being proposed, but you’ll give it your best shot. People also use it when they really can’t be bothered to do something for you.

Along the same lines is 快了, 快了 Kuai4le, kuai4le – “I’ll finish it soon,” or “I’ll start it soon,” or “I’ll start to think about doing it fairly soon.” :wink:

Where did you get this from? This is used in literature and in Beijing, but pretty rare in Taiwan, i.e. 扔掉 reng1diao4 in Taiwan would be 丟掉 diu1diao4.
To the OP, for god sakes just learn the basics of tones. Foreigners have a bad reputation
precisely because many feel they can just speak fast and not worry about tones. That’s like telling people not to worry about the difference between “th” and “tr” in English.
As for the thread, here are some useful phrases that are very common in Taiwan and are sure to impress your Taiwanese friends:

  1. 很屌 hen3diao3 very cool 這家夜店很屌 zhe4jia1ye4dian4hen3diao3 This club is very cool!
  2. 很瞎 hen3xia1 “fucked up” a bit like kua1zhang1 used to described an unexpected outcome in a negative sense, 很扯 hen3che3 is pretty much the same.
  3. 黏 nian2 “clingy” 那個女生很黏 na4ge nv3sheng1 hen3 nian2. That girl is very clingy.
  4. 屁啦, 放屁 pi4la1 fang4pi4 "bullshit" it also means fart but not in this context. If you don t agree with what someone says you can interject by saying pi4la1 but it’s not too polite.
  5. 正, 辣 Zheng4,la4 “hot” “attractive” 她是正妹/辣妹 ta1shi4zheng4mei4/la4mei4 She’s a hot chick. Also 把妹 ba3mei1 " to pickup chicks" notice the mei changes to 1st tone in this phrase.

I’m not sure if that’s what you’re asking for but there’s plenty more where that came from.

huan2bao3 環保, environmentally friendly (green) is a good term, as in 這個方法不是很環保! zhei4ge fang1fa3 bu2shi4 hen3 huan2bao3! This method isn’t very environmentally friendly!

A few interjections can go a long way. They may not be a big boost to one’s language ability; but they do help people sound more natural (as long as you get them right and don’t overdo them). And they can be a lot of fun.

list of Mandarin interjections

Here’s one the youngsters use alot…

真的假的 (zhen1 de jia3 de)

You serious!? (literally: That true or fake?. Often shortened to 真假?! )

:discodance: Now I can go off-topic…

On the ‘th’ in English thing…

As a South Londoner, I actually couldn’t hear the difference between ‘th’, ‘v’, ‘f’ and ‘d’ until I got an ‘education’ from my classmates in Australia. I still can’t ‘th’ in the middle or at the end of a word.

So I don’t think it’s important. It’s too bloody difficult to say and you can all understand me anyway. ‘th’ is for losers! :no-no:

I’m not Chinese, I’m never gonna have perfect pron, …[/quote]

You’re right, if you seriously think like this you never will. At least 1.2 Billion People have no problems pronouncing Chinese, what makes you so special you’re too dumb to ever learn?

Attitude is half the battle with language learning.

This thread is not about tones so get off it already…some self important people here.

怎樣 - ZenYang - ‘How about it’, ‘What do you think about it’ … a cooler simplified form of ‘Ni juede zenme yang’ ,
就是這樣 - Jiu Shi ZheYang - ‘…its just like that’ …throw in at the end of any sentence, Taiwanese do!
馬子 - MaZi …as in ‘Wo de mazi’ …My horse…my girlfriend!
太 離譜 了 - ’ tai lipu le’ … too over the top, really too much (when somebody was stealing money, doing something they shouldn’t and did very obviously etc.
讚 - zan! As in , that’s great! 超 好! chao hao … super good!

超 chao1 (super) is used a lot by the young whippersnappers these days as an intensifier:

超好吃 chao1 hao3 chi1 “really tasty”

To do with Taiwanese hard working nature in particular…
你很辛苦… ni hen xinku! ‘You are hard working’ …usually meant honestly but can also be applied sarcastically
要更努力… … yao geng nuli …‘need to work harder’
有成就感… you cheng jiu gan…lit. ‘sense of achievement’
有挫折感… you cuo zhe gan … lit. ‘sense of frustration’

I have never learned tones formally and maybe it would be better if I had, yet I find my tones are 90% correct having picked them up from practice…it’s more about practice and learning the common phrases of speech…this will allow repetition and self-correction from listening.

Irish people don’t pronounce th either…that’s a common one…

What do I say in this situation?


Can I insert some kind of word which kills the time where I think about something else? Like „ah, well, ok, then I’ll take …“?

好拉 …hao la … ok then…我要…
那就要… na jiu yao …then I will have…


Or 辛苦你了. xin1ku3 ni3 le

When not used sarcastically, it’s usually meant as an expression of gratitude for someone’s hard work, as in “I sincerely appreciate your efforts.” Often said by bosses to their employees at year-end parties. But as a set phrase that’s very commonly used in Chinese, there really is no satisfactory equivalent in English.

Another set phrase with no English equivalent is 慢走 man4 zou3. This is said by hosts to guests as they leave. It means “Leave slowly” or “Take your time leaving”; it expresses that the host is reluctant to see the guest leave (whether the host really feels like that or not).

Good one Chris on explanation…there quite a few phrases in Chinese that don’t have equivalents in English or our home countries (obviously I guess after you have learned a second language but not before, not for me anyway). It is only by thinking in Chinese or using ways of thinking that have been picked up in Taiwan or copying the locals that you can approach fluency. For instance I say ‘man zou’ quite often and really like it… it is a warm expression.