Word of the Week

Two sentence mini-lessons, featuring useful, high frequency expressions.
  • Wǒ xiān zǒu le

    Wǒ xiān zǒu le

    A common expression used by Chinese people is 我先走了 (Wǒ xiān zǒu le). Literally translated it means “I am leaving first”. This typical way of saying good-bye is used when leaving a group earlier than others. It is kind of like “I gotta get going”. Listen to the exchange below by clicking on first column. To check out the vo...

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  • Wine Tasting

    Wine Tasting

    This lesson has something for almost everyone: beginner, secondary, and intermediate. Even Kermit can learn something from this post. Beginner Level Gānbēi is the Chinese equivalent of “Cheers”. Literally it means “dry cup”. But you don’t have to feel obligated. Unless you are the guest of honor, in which case you pretty...

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  • Lost a Sock

    Lost a Sock

    Have you ever lost something in the laundromat? Most people have, but we seldom notice until we get home. Here is a quick Mandarin lesson, just in case it happens to you. Interesting Grammar Pattern “Zhǎo bù dào” means “to search without success” In English we have two words: “search” means to look for something...

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  • Unipiper


    If you live in Portland, sooner or later you are likely to encounter the “Unipiper”. This post will help you explain this guy to your Chinese friends. Also, the post has a bonus part 2 for more advanced students. The tables below are wired for audio. Click on the first column, in any row, to hear the pronunciation. Conversation PinyinCh...

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  • Rè Shuǐ

    Rè Shuǐ

    There are many reasons why Chinese people believe that drinking hot water (热水, rèshuǐ) is good for you. From a health perspective it is believed to enhance your vital energy (正气, zhèng qì… or qì). They believe that when you drink cold water you are exhausting your yang (阳, yáng) because you are wasting it on warming your core. Some...

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