Model Mandarin March 2015

0514_Model mandarinBEAR IN MIND

Remember how to speak by saying things you shouldn’t.

Often non-native Chinese speakers can be overheard around retail closing hours asking, “shāngdiàn guānmén le ma.” While it is a polite inquiry to find out if “the shop is closed,” it is not proper. That’s because “guānmén (关门)” has two meanings: 1. The door is closed, and; 2. It has gone bankrupt.

Instead of guānmén, we say dǎ yáng (打烊) which means, “closed during the night.”

zhèjiā cānguǎn měitiān wǎnshàng shídiǎnbàn dǎyáng.
这家 餐馆 每天 晚上 十点半 打烊。
This restaurant closes at 10:00 every evening.

zhèjiā chāoshì háiméiyǒu dǎyáng.
这家 超市 还没有 打烊。
This supermarket hasn’t closed yet.


A supplement for grammar practice

We locals with plenty of foreign friends often hear them describe a little bit of something with the phrase, “yì diǎn diǎn.” Actually, it is not right unless it is followed by a noun. Try using yǒu diǎn’r (有点儿) instead. Try the samples below.

有点儿 VS. 一点儿

有点儿: Yǒu diǎn’r means “not very… / just a little bit.” It can be followed by any adjective, or verbs like “hope, wish, think, like.”

Sentence pattern: 有点儿 + adj. / v.

zhèjiàn yīfu yǒu diǎn’r guì.
这件 衣服 有 点儿 贵。
These clothes are a little bit expensive.

tā yǒu diǎn’r xǐhuān shàng tā le.
他 有 点儿 喜欢 上 她 了。
He kind of likes her.

有点儿: Yǒu diǎn’r is always used to show comparison, can be used after any adjective.

Sentence pattern: adj. + 一点儿

qǐng shuōde màn yìdiǎn’r.
请 说得 慢 一点儿。
Please, speak a little more slowly.

一点儿: yì diǎn’r means an “uncertain small amount of something.”

Sentence pattern: v. + (一)点儿 + n.

tā mǎile yìdiǎn’r shuǐguǒ.
他 买了 (一)点儿 水果。
He bought some fruit.


Mnemonic devices that work

The radical 彳, pronounced chì, originally meant walk slowly. Characters with this radical always relate to walking, action or roads, and will be always stand on the left side of the character.

xíng 行 – capable, adj., v.

nǐ dāngrán xíng
你 当然 行!
You certainly can!

wǎng 往 – leave or go somewhere, v.

wǎng qián zhí zǒu.
往 前 直 走。
Go straight ahead.


Conversation starters for Guangdongers

hou2 loi4 ng4 gin3  Use this when reuniting with friends to show how much you missed them. Think of the Chinglish version: “Long time, no see.” When they return next month, say, “Hey, hou loi ng gin! How was your CNY holiday?” (Raise the tone for hou, and continue from loi with a steady tone.)