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Mandarin Learning Tips Blog

Sara Lynn Hua

Sara Lynn Hua is a contributing writer and editor for TutorMing. She grew up in Beijing, before going to the University of Southern California (USC) to get her degree in Social Sciences and Psychology. When she’s not reading up on Chinese culture, she enjoys crafting and painting.
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Recent Posts

Why "Learn Chinese" Should Be Your New Year's Resolution

Sara Lynn Hua | January 01, 2017

The new year is upon us, which means that people are making their New Year’s resolutions with enthusiasm and hope. There’s one resolution that we think everyone needs to add to their list: Learn Chinese.

Surprised? Well, what if we told you that learning Chinese could help you achieve multiple other New Year’s resolutions?

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Hilarious Translations Of Pokemon Names in Chinese

Sara Lynn Hua | August 18, 2016

All images below are from Bulbapedia and belong to Nintendo, The Pokemon Company, and Ken Sugimori.


Pokémon Go is sweeping across the world. Even though the game has yet to come to mainland China (despite how much money it could make there), the game is now available in Chinese-speaking regions such as Hong Kong and Taiwan.


We decided to have some fun looking at Pokémon names in Mandarin Chinese. (Note: Depending on the region and dialect, the Pokémon names vary. For example, "Pokémon" is sometimes translated to "神奇宝贝(shén qí bǎo bèi) and sometimes translated to "宠物小精灵 (chǒng wù xiǎo jīnglíng)".) Translations for foreign proper nouns to Chinese can go one of two routes: be phonetically-translated or contextually-translated. A lot of brand names go either route or even use a dual-adaptation.

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Top 5 Chinese Dictionary Apps

Sara Lynn Hua | October 21, 2015

When it comes to choosing a Chinese-English app, there are a lot of choices out there. Here at TutorMing, we decided to test-drive the best dictionary apps so you don't have to!

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How To Say "Um" In Chinese (And Other Filler Words)

Sara Lynn Hua | October 20, 2015

n Monday, we posted an article on how to write a formal letter. Today, we’re going down a more colloquial route.

When I speak to people in English, I tend to use a lot of filler words such as “Um...” and “Like...” while I gather my thoughts. Perhaps I’m not quite as eloquent as most people.

For us, we say “那个” (nèi ge) to fill a pause. It’s the equivalent to “Um, uh, er, that is, that one,” etc.

The problem with “那个” (pronounced “nay-ge” or “nah-ge”) as a filler word is that it sounds a little similar the N-word in English. The famous comedian, Russell Peters, pointed this out in one of his standup shows. It is unfortunate that such a common word in the Chinese language can be so misunderstood in English.

I’ve even had friends approach me and ask me why Chinese people were so obsessed with saying the “N-word.” No, we’re not trying to insult anyone, and no, we are not trying to emulate certain rap lyrics. We are simply filling an empty pause as we gather our thoughts.

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How To Use: 的, 地, And 得 In Chinese

Sara Lynn Hua | October 20, 2015

A while ago, we gave you a post explaining the three “ta"s (him, her, it) of Chinese. Today, we’re going to explain another holy trinity in Chinese grammar: the three “de” particles of Chinese.

These particles are some of the hardest components of Chinese grammar. Even native speakers often mix them up.

The use of the particle “de” is to modify another noun, verb, or adjective. For example, if Chinese people want to say “quietly,” they would say “安静地 (Ān jìng de).” Or, if they would want to say “Sara’s house,” they would say “莎拉de房子.”

There are three de particles. They are all pronounced “de” with the neutral tone when used as a particle, which is why people can easily confuse them with one another. Similar to how “their, they’re, and there” are some of the most common typos in the English language, “的," "得," and "地” are also some of the most common grammar mistakes in Chinese.

• 的 (de) for modifying nouns
• 得 (de), for modifying verbs
• 地 (de), for modifying adjectives (into adverbs)

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What Is Pinyin?

Sara Lynn Hua | October 19, 2015

Pinyin is the Romanization of the Chinese characters based on their pronunciation. In Mandarin Chinese, the phrase “Pin Yin” literally translates into “spell sound.” In other words, spelling out Chinese phrases with letters from the English alphabet. For example:

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