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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.
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Recent Posts

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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How to Learn Chinese: 5 Key Steps

Sara Lynn Hua | October 08, 2015

Preface: This article is for beginners with no Chinese-speaking skills whatsoever. For those of you who already speak intermediate Chinese, go read one of our other articles. Like this one.

So, you want to learn Chinese. We’re not going to lie; Chinese is an immensely complex and difficult language, but it may not be the world's hardest language. We’ve shortened it into a 5-step program for you.

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How To Order Food in Chinese

Sara Lynn Hua | October 01, 2015

Have you ever walked into a Chinese restaurant and noticed that the staff is much friendlier to Chinese-speaking customers? It’s partially because they don’t have to deal with a language barrier, and also partially because they love anyone that’s from their homeland. You certainly shouldn’t take it personally!

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7 Basic Rules To Chinese Stroke Order

Sara Lynn Hua | September 30, 2015

Modern Chinese characters have their roots in calligraphy, so stroke order is vital in writing Chinese. Having the wrong stroke order would cause ink to fall differently on the page and make Chinese cursive literally indistinguishable. No worries, we're here to help!

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