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  5. "你会说中文吗?"


Translation:Can you speak Chinese?

January 5, 2018



What's the difference between saying 汉语 and 中文?? When should I use each?


I found this answer to your question:

"Currently 中文 and 汉语 have the same meaning, we distinguish them only because of some wording is more preferred. [..] A dictionary is called 现代汉语词典 but not 现代中文词典. If you say 这是一本中文书, I will consider this is a book written in Chinese; if 这是一本汉语书, then I will personally by default consider it's a textbook for learning Chinese. Except those conventional phrases, you don't have to focus on the distinction between them."


汉语 represents the language of the majority in China, the language of Han people. While 中文 means something like the language spoken in China. It is something like, every people in China speaks 中国 but not everyone speaks 汉语. I might misinterpreted this, but as far as I know, this is the difference.


I asked the same question on IRC a while ago. Somebody said they mean the same but 中文 is the least political of them all.

Makes sense I guess, 中文 is literally just "china language".


Formation: Pictograph - Picture of cursive and interlocking lines, meaning writing

文 [ wén ] language, culture, writing, formal, literature,


How can you tell if its 'will' or 'can'?
Both are auxilliary verbs and I don't recall either having different word positions.


This is a tough question. You have to distinguish them by the meaning. Usually, if there is no words that indicate it's talking about the future, '会' means 'be able to'. For example, "你会开车吗?" means 'Are you able to drive?' and "你明天会开车吗?" means 'Will you drive tomorrow?'


Actually, Duolingo looked 会 as the character that is used in the sense of knowing how-to, which is how such meaning of the sentence has its forms.

However, it is also correct to substitute 会 with 能 to express "capability", since this can also plays the role. The sentence is 你能說中文嗎?, which suggests "Are you able to speak Chinese?" Meaning equivalent: "Can you speak Chinese?"


What about 可以 as well? That seemed to me to fit the meaning of the English better.


That is a good example for people who take 中文 strictly as written Chinese and 汉语 as spoken Chinese. The real-life usage is much more flexible.






Just because I didn't capitalize Chinese I got it wrong.

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