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"What does this character mean?"

Translation:这个字是什么意思?

December 2, 2017

15 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mwyz

The 是 seems unnatural. Shouldn't it be 有? That's how I ask my Chinese teacher irl.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/CinnamonTe1

In another discussion, someone said "有什么" means "what are some" and allows for multiple answers whereas "是什么" means "what is" and expects only one answer.

I wasn't able to find a source on the web for this tip. Can someone confirm if this is true?

If that is true, 是什么 expects one meaning (maybe the most common) for a character, while 有什么 allows for a response with more than one meaning.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ashaman5

I answered "这个字什么意思" which I think is also correct. Less formal, but this is how my Chinese friends and I converse. The shi4 seems superfluous.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/trycykle

Shouldn't it be "这个字 【有】什么意思?“ ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Kirisikit

That's far more natural, this course is riddled with problems like this where the more natural response is rejected in favour of something that sounds bizarre.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dalton132

Would 这个字的意思是什么 work?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ashaman5

No, "de" is extraneous here.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/yoshiihsoy

It's marked as correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dirrty_30

I typed “这个字有什么意思” with my keyboard. I think it should be accepted


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/NicoleBiss15

I've frequently heard you3 instead if shi4.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Skirmantas277282

What is the purpose of 是 in this sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Cat722536

"意思" translates to "meaning." It confused me how it was ever used as a verb because the sample sentences don't seem to use it as a verb. And after talking to my Chinese friend, he told me it is not a verb in Chinese.

So, the sentence roughly translates to "this character/word IS what meaning?" ==> "what is the meaning of this character?", which is kind of weird and now I understand why the commentators above think that 有 should replace 是. Then, it will translate into "this character HAS what meaning?" From there, the more natural english expression is "what does this word mean?"

He told me it is also grammatically correct to write "this character's meaning is what" --> "这个字的意思是什么" From the word bank they give, there is no "的" so you can only write "这个字是什么意思"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Elizabeth248463

这个字意思是什么? Why is this sentence wrong


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/WilliamXie4

There should be a 的 between 字 and 意思.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KyleDelane6

"This character is what meaning?"?

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