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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

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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Gender Pronouns In Chinese: "他、她、它"

Sara Lynn Hua | September 30, 2015

Let’s talk a little bit about pronouns in Mandarin. The most common forms in English are "he, she, and it." In the Chinese language, those three become the following: 他, 她, and 他 (“he/him,” “she/her,” and “it/its.”

They are all pronounced “tā.”

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The "in" vs "ing" sound in Chinese

Sara Lynn Hua | September 17, 2015

Aside from the four tones in Chinese, this is another part of Chinese that can be a little tricky to grasp. Even native speakers can struggle with the sound difference of “in” and “ing.” These are not homophones, but rather two different words entirely. The problem with not enunciating it clearly is that it can convey an different message. For example "金鱼 (jīn yú)" is "goldfish," but "鲸鱼 (jīng yú)" is "whale."

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The Fast Track Guide To Mandarin Chinese Radicals

Sara Lynn Hua | September 12, 2015

When you begin to learn Mandarin Chinese, one of the first things you might pick up on are the certain repetitive graphical components within different characters. Perhaps a certain piece of a character might resemble a tree, and you see it in 树,林, and the classic Chinese idiom 一木难支. Or these three water drops that attach themselves to all characters that are water-related, such as 江,河,and 湖. Do these look familiar?

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How Long Does It REALLY Take To Learn Chinese?

Sara Lynn Hua | August 01, 2015

The short of it is that there are many, many variables that go into how long it’ll take for you to learn Chinese. However, to become fluent, experts estimate that it’ll take 2,200 class hours. If you put the rest of your life on hold and focused only on studying Chinese – at 5 hours of practice a day, it would take you 88 weeks.

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8 Chinese Vocabulary Words For Summer You Should Know

Sara Lynn Hua | July 17, 2015

The days are getting longer, the temperature is hitting the high 90°s (if you're in the Northern Hemisphere, at least) and school is finally out. This could only mean one thing...summer! In this Mandarin lesson, we will learn useful summer-related Mandarin Chinese vocabulary, as well as how to correctly apply them in daily conversation.

Let’s get started!


夏天 (xià tiān) = “Summer”

船(Chuán) = “Boat”

沙滩(Shā tān) = “Beach”
• “沙” means “sand”
• “滩” means “field by the water”
• All together, a sandy field by the water = beach

A tip from our Chinese tutors: There are many compound words in Mandarin Chinese that make complete sense as a sum of its parts. See the following words for some more examples.

墨镜 (mò jìng) = “Sunglasses”
• “墨” means “dark ink”
• “镜” means “glass”
• All together, glasses that are stained with dark ink = sunglasses

高温 (gāo wēn) = “High Temperature”
• “高” means “tall” or “high”
• “温” stands for “温度,” (Wēndù) which means temperature
• All together, 高温 = high temperature; similarly 低温 (Dīwēn) means low temperature

空调 (kòng tiáo) = “Air conditioner”
• “空” stands for “空气” (Kōngqì), which means “air”
• “调” means “to adjust”
• All together, 空调 = adjusting the air, which is how the air conditioner functions, cooling or heating the air to change the room’s temperature


度假 (dù jià) - “度” means “to pass.” “假” stands for “假期,” which means vacation or holiday. All together, “度假” means “to take vacation.” It is used as a verb.

暑假(shǔ jià) – “暑” means “summer heat.” “假” stands for “假期.” All together, 暑假 = “summer vacation.” It is a noun.

寒假 (hán jià) – “寒” means “winter cold.” “假” stands for “假期.” All together, 寒假 = “winter vacation.” It is also a noun.

TutorMing Tip: Please note that “假” here is read in the fourth tone “jià” and not the third tone “Jiǎ.” When read in the third tone, “假” means false or fake. But when read in the fourth tone, “假” refers to vacation.


1. English Translation: It’s too hot, so we need to turn on the air conditioner.
Chinese Translation: 今天天气____, ____我们要开空调。

a) 很热; 因为
b) 太热;所以

Answer: B

“很热” means “very hot.” But “太热” means “too hot,” and is a better choice for our translation.
“因为” means “because.” “所以” means “therefore” or “so.” Since we already presented the justification in the first part of the sentence, we need “所以” to connect the justification for action to the action required.

2. English Translation: We take a boat to the beach.
Chinese Translation: 我们__船去沙滩。

a) 坐
b) 做

Answer: A
While they both have the fourth tone “zuò”, “坐” means “to sit,” and “做” means “to make.” It makes more sense to sit on a boat to go to the beach, rather than making a boat to go to the beach, right?

Related: How To Use 作 vs. 做 in Chinese Grammar, How To Use: 坐 vs. 座 in Chinese Grammar

Hopefully you have learned a lot of summer-related Chinese vocabulary through this lesson, and are ready to practice your new skills! We hope you have a great summer and make sure to stay hydrated, or else you could experience symptoms of being "on fire."

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