"What does this character mean?"


December 2, 2017

This discussion is locked.


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


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.


Grew up in a Chinese-speaking household. Have heard it both ways, and I'd definitely agree that 是 implies what something is, in this case, what THE meaning is (i.e. only seeking one answer). 有 implies what meaning something HAS, which opens the possibility of multiple answers.


after not being exposed to this lesson for a bit and coming back here i instinctively answered using 有 as well.. as in the literal sense i imagined: "this character, what meaning does it have?" whereas with 是 in my head it seems more like "this character is what meaning?". but that's my train of thought from a dutch/english perspective doesn't mean it's right in chinese.


They both work.


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.


Shouldn't it be "这个字 【有】什么意思?“ ?


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.


Would 这个字的意思是什么 work?


No, "de" is extraneous here.


It's marked as correct.


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


I've frequently heard you3 instead if shi4.


What is the purpose of 是 in this sentence?


"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"


这个字意思是什么? Why is this sentence wrong


There should be a 的 between 字 and 意思.


"This character is what meaning?"?


I answered: 这个字是意思什么? and although it is correct it's wrong.


I wrote "这个字有什么意思" and it was marked as incorrect.

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