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  5. Mandarin Chinese - Lesson 5


Mandarin Chinese - Lesson 5

Introduction and Table of Contents: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8542744

Lesson 1: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8543449

Lesson 2: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8546990

Lesson 3: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8559330

Lesson 4: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/8626265

How Duolingo could Teach Chinese: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/7272741

的 - de - grammatical particle

地 - de - grammatical particle

得 - de - grammatical particle

得 - děi - must/to have to

蓝 (藍) - lán - blue

绿 (綠) - lǜ - green

红 (紅) - hóng - red

白 - bái - white

黑 - hēi - black

颜色 (顏-) - yán sè - colour/color

汽车 (-車) - qì chē - car

城市 - chéng shì - city

流利 - liú lì - fluent

都 - dōu- all/both

买 (買) - mǎi - to buy

卖 (賣) - mài- to sell

开 (開) - kāi - to open/to turn on/to drive

辆 (輛) - liàng - measure word for vehicles

学生 (學-) - xué shēng - student

的 is very versatile. I mentioned previously that 的 indicates possession, but that's part of a more general usage. 的 is used before a noun to indicate that what precedes 的 modifies the noun. In short, "A + 的 + noun" indicates that 'A' modifies the noun.

When 'A' is a noun, it usually indicates possession, but it can mean the first noun modifies the second in some other way 比如:中国的图书馆 (Chinese libraries/libraries of China).

You use the same structure if you want to modify a noun with an adjective. If you use an adjective, put 的 between the adjective and the noun e.g. "快的汽车" (fast car). 的 isn't always used, particularly in proper nouns or in groups of characters that are commonly used as a single word (比如:大城市 - big city/major city), but in general you should always use it when modifying a noun with an adjective.

Colours in Chinese can be used on their own as adjectives, but they're usually used next to 色, in which case they become a noun (比如:我喜欢蓝色). Either way, they can be used with "的" to modify a noun. Adding 的 to a nominalised colour essentially makes it an adjective again. For example, you could say either 红的猫 or 红色的猫 (red cat), with the latter being more common.

You can also use a verb or entire phrase with 的 to modify a noun. For example, "学习中文的学生" (a student learning Chinese), "我以前不认识的人" (a person I didn't know before), 喜欢狗的人 (a person who like dogs). When you want to translate "a (something) that/who ...", you use this form.

The noun at the end can be omitted, in which case you have to imagine the noun is there. If it's with a pronoun, it's essentially the equivalent of possessive pronouns in English 比如:我的 (mine), 你的 (yours), 她的 (hers). If it's an adjective, verb or phrase, "one" is often the best way to translate it. 比如:红色的 (red one), 快的 (fast one), 你有红色的吗?(Do you have the red one?/Do you have any red ones?"), 这辆汽车是蓝色的。(This car is blue; lit: "This car is a blue one) etc.

地 and 得 are similar to 的, except they modify verbs. The only difference between 得 and 地 is word order:

noun + adjective + 地 + verb + object

noun + (verb) + object + verb + 得 + adjective

So "她流利地说汉语" and "她(说)汉语说得流利" (She speaks Chinese fluently) are both correct (the first "说" is optional in the second sentence, although it's usually omitted). This is how you change adjectives into adverbs into Chinese.

的, 得 and 地 all have the same pronunciation, so the difference only exists in the written language. You might also see native speakers write 的 when they should technically be writing 地 or 得. This is analogous to English speakers writing "there" instead of "they're" or "their".

得 can also mean "must" or "to have to", in which case its pronunciation changes to "děi" 比如:"我现在得走。“ (I have to go now).

都 is an adverb that means "all" or "both". You can use it with a pronoun e.g. 他们都 (They all.../All of them). You cannot use 都 as a noun or pronoun, but you can still use it as an adverb when the subject is omitted "(他们)都是。。。".

The only difference between 买 (to buy) and 卖 (to sell) in the spoken language is that they have different tones. If you change the tone, it completely changes the meaning! The only difference in writing is that the character for "to sell" has a plus sign on top of it, and "to buy" doesn't.

开 means "to open", but it's often used with devices to mean "to turn on" or with vehicles to mean "to drive". So 开汽车 means "to drive a car", or you can just say "开车" which means "to drive". "车" means "vehicle", and you'll see it in the names of many different vehicles in Chinese.

In case you missed the edit of the last lesson, the Introduction now includes a table of contents. The link is at the top of this page.

May 16, 2015



oh wow nice, hope that chinese course will be in the incubator this year


Wow Don_Christian, only as I read your comment did I realize that last night I dreamt that it came out. (I guess I'm kind of OD'ing on Chinese lately, and living in the Duo world a bit much:0)


When will Chinese for English speakers come out? There already exists a course for English for Chinese speakers.

谢 谢 你! 我 是 学 生 和 我 已 经 知 道 一 些 汉 语 不 过 我 不 流 利.


That's something I don't know. The English for Chinese speakers course is nearing completion, so I can only guess that the course for English speakers will come out (however long) after that's done.



Thank you again for all this work! How many lessons do you think you might do? I only noticed one typo this time: This is how you change adjectives into adverbs (into-->in) Chinese.


Thanks for the correction.

I haven't really been planning this course much beyond thinking of what pieces of grammar would be useful and then mentally sorting it into what I think is a good order. The contents of this lesson were originally going to be included in the first two lessons, but then I decided it would be better as its own lesson. Then I decided that measure words were more important, so that was lesson 3. I found it difficult to write the discussion in lesson 3 without writing "过" or "了" (to the point where I completely changed the situation so I didn't need to include them), so I then made that lesson 4. A lot of the vocab and grammar explanations in the previous lessons were written after I thought I was done simply because I found it difficult to come up with example sentences using the vocab or grammar already taught. This whole thing is heavily improvised.

I have a vague idea what the next three lessons might be about (conjunctions, comparisons and directional complements), but I haven't thought of anything beyond that. I'm sure it'll come to me though. I just don't want to get to the point where I'm only writing a list of vocab and example sentences without needing any grammar explanation. At that point, a dictionary would serve as a better teacher.

I also don't want to get to the point where I've taught all the grammar and sentence structures I know and I'm essentially teaching what I'm learning as I'm learning it. It'd be great practice for me I'm sure, but it would be unfair for everyone who wants to anyone who wants to learn from me. I don't think I'll reach that point any time soon though.

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