Sing “The Moon Represents My Heart”

“The Moon Represents My Heart” is the title of a very popular Chinese song. This slow-paced song contains a good sample of various parts of speech and a number of different types of sentences. I think you will enjoy listening and singing this song as well as learning the Chinese verses in a most beautiful way. In fact, we have already covered the nouns, adjectives and adverbs used in this song. All you have to do today is to learn a few additional verbs.

You already know that 代表 (dàibiǎo) means to represent. When used as a noun, this word means a representative.

The words, (wèn to ask) and (dá), both feature the mouth radical, (kǒu). If you picture these two words as two person’s faces, which one appears to be more self-assured? A new term is formed when you put these two words together: 问答 (wèndá), which means questions and answers, or Q&A.

问题 (wèntí) can be interpreted as a question. In this sense, it means the same as 疑问 (yíwèn question or doubt). 问题 (wèntí) also refers to a problem or an issue.

Tā wèn wǒ yī gè wèntí.
She asks me a question.

Zhè shì yī gè dà wèntí.
This is a major issue.

Méi wèntí.
No problem.

询问 (xúnwèn) means to inquire or to obtain information about something. On the other hand, 质问 (zhìwèn) means to or to interrogate or grill someone.

问好 (wènhǎo) is to inquire about someone’s well-being, or to send regards to someone. 问候 (wènhòu) is also to extend greetings to someone (e.g. by asking what the weather is like over there).

(yí) and 移动 (yídòng) mean to move or shift. 移民 (yímín) means immigration, to emigrate, to immigrate, or an immigrant. It’s pure coincidence that the Chinese word sounds similar to the initial part of the English word.

(biàn) and 改变 (gǎibiàn) mean to change or transform. 变心 (biànxīn) is a change of heart with respect to being faithful to a lover.

打动 (dǎdòng) is to move or touch one’s heart.

(jiāo) means to teach or to instruct. When used as a noun, it is pronounced in the 4th tone, as in 教师 (jiàoshī instructor). (jiào) also used colloquially to mean “to make someone do something”. For example,

Jiào wǒ sīniàn dào rújīn.
Makes me think of it until today.

Jiào wǒ rúhé bù xiǎng tā.
How could you make me not miss her?
(This is actually the title of a well-known Chinese song.)

(qù) means to go, to leave, or to remove. As an adverb, this word indicates a motion away from you. It is the opposite of (lái come), which indicates a motion toward you. Therefore, 拿去 (ná qù) means to take (it) away, whereas拿来 (ná lái) means to bring (it) over here.

去年 (qùnián) is the year that has just passed, i.e. last year. You may also come across such an expression as 去冬 (qù dōng), which is an abbreviation for 去年冬天 (qùnián dōngtiān last winter). However, do not apply this scheme to other time periods. In fact, last month is 上个月 (shànggèyuè), and last week is上星期 (shàngxīngqī).

(xiǎng) means to think, to consider or to want to do something, or to miss somebody. It is customary to use a verb in the phrase pattern: verb + 一 (yī) + verb. Often the 一 (yī) is omitted.You could interpret the second occurrence of the verb as a noun. For example, 想一想, (xiǎng yī xiǎng) could be interpreted as “give it a thought”.

你去想一想, 这问题么办?
Nǐ qù xiǎng yī xiǎng, zhè wèntí zěnmebàn?
Go think about it; how to resolve this issue?

Ràng wǒ xiǎng xiǎng.
Let me think (it over).

(kàn) has various meanings, among them: see, look, examine, visit, consider, appear to be, keep watch on, and care for.

你去看一看, 他睡了没有?
Nǐ qù kàn yī kàn, tā shuì le méiyǒu?
Go take a look and see if he has gone to sleep.

You may wonder why the heart is likened to the moon in “The Moon Represents My Heart”. The heart connotes a hot, vibrant mass of energy, whereas the moon is that cool and detached object peering down at us from high above. Well, in this song, you are trying to respond to the question: “How much do you love me?” Instead of giving a direct answer, you ask your sweetheart to go think and see for himself or herself – Your true and unwavering love shines bright and clear in your heart just like the moon that constantly gleams in the sky. This is my own interpretation. If you have other thoughts, feel free to share them with us.

In Chinese poetry, the moon is often referred to as 明月 (míng yuè clear and shiny moon). The character (míng) has a sun on the left side and a moon on the right side. So it’s not surprising that it represents brightness and illumination. You may think of 明天 as the time when the sky becomes bright again, ie. tomorrow. In the broader sense, (míng) also represents enlightenment or clarity. For example,

Xiànzài wǒ míngbai le.
Now I understand.

Now, enjoy Teresa Teng’s lovely voice, but also pay attention to her clear and distinct enunciation. The video at this link has Chinese and English subtitles as well as the pronunciation aid.

The lyrics displayed on the video are in traditional Chinese characters. Click here to see the verses in simplified Chinese characters.

Will a western student of Chinese be able to handle this song with ease? Of course. Here’s proof.

As an exercise, check your Chinese dictionary for a few other characters that contain the radical (rì the sun). At this link there is a nice list of most of the Chinese radicals. Maybe you can show off what you have learned by filling some of the blanks at that site with a sentence or two of your own.


Learn the Chinese radical for the heart

I may not have a cell phone, and you may not have a boat, but we all have a heart that pumps the “qi” through our bodies to keep us alive. The Chinese word for this vital organ is (xīn).

心中 (xīnzhōng) means in one’s mind or heart. Who wouldn’t be flattered to hear the following sweet nothing?

Wǒ de xīnzhōng zhǐyǒu nǐ.
In my heart there is only you.

On the other hand, 中心 (zhōngxīn) means the center or the core. It also refers to a center (organization), such as a children’s center, 幼兒中心 (yòu’ér zhōngxīn).

The heart is where we perceive our emotions to reside. Therefore you can expect to see many Chinese words that contain the radical for “heart”. In fact, there are two Chinese radicals for “heart”.

I. The normal heart radical
When used as a radical, (xīn heart) is squashed down somewhat to fit in, as shown in the following examples.

Tā shì gè zhōngxīn de péngyǒu.
He is a loyal friend.

Notice how 忠心 and 中心 are pronounced exactly the same? The Chinese language is replete with homophones.

(rěn) means to endure, to tolerate or to put up with. 忍心 (rěn xīn) means to be hard-hearted enough to do something unkind.

Tā rěnbuzhù dàjiào yī shēng.
Unable to bear it any longer, he let out a cry.

(wáng) means to die, to lose or to flee. (wàng) means to forget (to lose one’s memory of something).

Wǒ wàng le.
I forgot.

You know that (ài) means love. Compare it to the Traditional character, , and you will see that the “heart” radical in the Simplified character has been reduced to one mere horizontal stroke. What is love if you don’t put your heart into it? The up side of this change is that the lower half of the Simplified character sports the character for friends, (yǒu).

(ài) also means to tend to do something often. For example:

Tā ài bàoyuàn.
He likes to complain.

想念 (xiǎngniàn), like 思念 (sīniàn),means to long for or to miss someone or some place.

悲哀 (bēi’āi) is sadness or sorrow. 愤怒 (fènnù) means anger or indignation. These words can also be used as adjectives.

恐怖 (kǒngbù) means terror or scary.

Tā bù xǐhuān kǒngbù piàn.
She dislikes horror movies.

(ēn benefaction or gratitude) is the opposite of (yuàn resentment or grievance). 恩怨 (ēnyuàn) refers to a history of feelings of gratitude or resentment between two parties (old scores). Please make sure not to confuse the character (ēn) with (sīn).

休息 (xiūxī) means to take a rest. Therefore, when you see a sign that says: 休息室 (xiūxīshì), you’ll know it’s a lounge.

II. The vertical heart radical
When the heart is placed on the side of a character, it takes on a skeletal vertical format. Following are a few common examples:

(kuài) means fast, quick or soon. It also connotes forthrightness, happiness, or gratification.

means to be busy, while 急忙 (jímáng) means hastily, or to be in a hurry.

忧愁 (yōuchóu) means to be sad or worried. It can also be used as a noun.

As an adjective, (guài) means strange or odd. As a noun, it refers to a monster or evil being. As a verb, it means to put the blame on someone.

Wǒ bù guài tā.
I don’t blame her.

When something frightens you, your heart (or, rather, your face) may turn pale, hence the word (pà), which means to fear, to dread, or to be worried about something. 胆怯 (dǎnqiè) is the adjective that means to be timid or cowardly.

(hèn) is to hate or to have regret.

(qíng) can mean feelings, affection, emotions, passion or a condition or situation. 爱情 (àiqíng)is the feeling between lovers. 一段 (yī duàn)is a segment or a section. It is also used as a unit for a period of time. 一段情 (yī duàn qíng) means an affair. 深情 (shēnqíng) means deep affection. The following two sentences both mean: “How much do you love me?”

Nǐ ài wǒ yǒu duō shēn?

Nǐ ài wǒ yǒu jǐ fēn?

As a verb, (fēn) means to separate, to divide, to distribute or to differentiate. As a noun it means a fraction or a branching off of an entity. It is also a unit of currency as well as a measure for length, area and weight. 十分 (shífēn) is ten out of ten, i.e. totally.

Tā shífēn gāoxìng.
He is utterly happy.

Adjectives and Adverbs

In the simple sentence patterns that we have learned so far, you’ve seen that a basic statement follows the form of “Noun + Verb”. To provide additional information about the “Noun”, you could add one or more words or phrases to describe it. Such words or phrases are adjectives. Similarly, adverbs are words or phrases that you could add to describe the action represented by the “Verb”. This basic concept is the same in the English and Chinese languages. However, in some cases there are differences in where the adjectives or adverbs are placed in a sentence. Many beginners and intermediate-level students stumble over the proper placement of adverbial phrases in a sentence. If you have a copy of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”, please pay special attention to the usage notes and examples for adverbs and adverbial phrases in Chapters 17 and 18.

The usage of adjectives in Chinese mostly parallels that in English. When the adjective is placed before the noun, it usually takes on the suffix (de). For example:

他是个聪明的人 .
Tā shì gè cōngmíng de rén.
He is an intelligent man.

When the adjective is linked to the noun by an implied “be” verb, (shì), then (de) is usally omitted.

Zhè huā hěn xiāng.
This flower is very fragrant.

Jīnwǎn yuèliang hěn liàng.
Tonight the moon is very bright.

A few months ago we learned how to ask questions that start with when, where and how. To answer those questions, you will employ adverbs or adverbial phrases.

Here are a few examples of adverbs that indicate the time an action takes place: 每天 (měitiān every day), 早上 (zǎoshàng morning), 今年 (jīnnián this year), 已经 (ǐjīng already), and 依旧 (ījiù still, as of old) Such an adverb is never placed after the verb it modifies. On the other hand, adverbial phrases, such as 到如今 (dào rújīn even today) could be placed at the beginning or at the end of a sentence.

Therefore, do not say:

Tā sān shí suì le jīnnián.
She is thirty years old this year.

Here also, the “be” verb (shì) is implied.

Do say:

Tā jīnnián sān shí suì le.
She is thirty years old this year.

Tā ǐjīng sān shí suì le.
She is already thirty years old.

Wǒ dào rújīn ījiù sīniàn tā.
I, even now, still miss him.

Dào rújīn, wǒ ījiù sīniàn tā.
Even today, I still miss him.

Tā měitiān gōngzuò dào wǔ diǎn.
Each day he works until five o’clock.

Questions about where an action occurs are answered by using such words and phrases as: 这里 (zhelǐ here), 那里 (nàlǐ there), 在饭厅里 (zài fàntīng lǐ in the dining room), etc..

Wǒ zhù zài zhelǐ.
I live here.

Bùyào bǎ tā fàng zài nàli.
Don’t put it there.

Tā zài fàntīng lǐ chīfàn.
He is having a meal in the dining room.

With English, you can readily change many adjectives to their corresponding adverbs by adding the suffix “ly”. For example, “quick” is an adjective, and the corresponding adverb is “quickly”. Similarly, many Chinese adjectives can also serve as adverbs that describe how an action is carried out. The following sentence uses 轻轻的 (qīngqīng de gentle, light) as an adjective describing the wind. This same term can also be used to describe how the wind blows (gently, lightly).

Wǒ gǎnjuédào yīzhèn qīngqīng de fēng.
I feel a waft of gentle breeze..

Fēng qīngqīng di (de) chuī.
The wind blows gently.

When the adverb is placed immediately before the verb it modifies, it usually takes on the suffix (di). Some pronounce as “de” when they use it as a suffix. Others simply use (de) for both adjectives and adverbs. It is also all right to omit the suffix from the adverb, as shown below.

Tā qīngqīng pāi wǒ yīxià.
She gently pats me once.
(She gives me a gentle pat.)

Kuài lái!
Come quicky!

Zhèi jiàn shì yào xiǎoxīn qù zuò.
This matter must be handled carfully.
(You must go about this carefully.)

Tā nǔlì gōngzuò.
He works hard.


The Chinese radical for words

(yán) is the radical that means words, speech or language. Do you recognize the character for mouth in this word? 语言 (yǔyán) is the word for “language” or “lingo”, whereas 言语 (yányǔ) refers to “parlance” or what a person utters.

We know that 丈夫 (zhàngfu) means a husband. On the other hand, 大丈夫 (dàzhàngfu) refers to a real man (as opposed to a coward) who can shoulder responsibilities, a man of character, an everyday hero, or a tough guy. Below is a well-known Chinese idiom. I added the commas to make it easier to interpret.

Dàzhàngfu yī yán jì chū sìmǎ nàn zhuī.
For a man of character, once a word is uttered, even a team of four horses will find it difficult to retrieve it. (A promise is a promise.)

In classical chinese, (yán) is also used as the verb “to speak”. Nowadays, we use (shuō) or (jiǎng) for “to say” or “to speak”. Both of these words take (yán) as the root. This may not be obvious to you, and I don’t blame you. In simplified Chinese font, the root (yán) has been reduced to a simple shorthand symbol.

(huà) refers to spoken words. The right side of this character shows (shé), which, not surprisingly, is the character for the tongue. 中国话 (Zhōngguó huà) is the Chinese language, and 美国话 (Měiguó huà) is American English.

说话 (shuōhuà) and 讲话 (jiǎnghuà) both mean “to say” or “to speak”. For example,

Tā hěn huì shuōhuà.
She speaks well. (She knows how to say the right words.)

Tā zěnme bù jiǎnghuà le?
How come she’s not talking anymore? (She’s probably annoyed.)

Let’s look at a few other words that take on the radical (yán).

Pēng, pēng.
Knock, knock.

Shéi ya?
Who is it?

Shì wǒ.
It’s me.

Qǐng jìn.
Come in, please.

Xiè xiè.
Thank you.

访 (fǎng) is to visit someone. This word is rarely used stand-alone. For example,

Míngtiān wǒ qù bàifǎng nǐ.
Tomorrow I’ll go pay a visit to you.

(wèn) is the verb “to ask”. Therefore, 访问 is to interview someone.
(jì) is to count or calculate. It also means a gauge. 计算机 (jìsuànjī) is a calculator. (shè) is to set up, to establish or to assume. 设计 (shèjì) means to design, or a design.

You’ve already learned that 可以 (kěyǐ)means permissible. 许可 means permission. (zhèng) as a verb means to prove or verify. As a noun, it means a certificate or an evidence. This word is normally used in combination with other characters. For example, 证书 (zhèngshū) is a certificate, and 许可证 is a permit.

When you can’t hear well or don’t understand what’s being said by a familiar person, you could ask:

Nǐ shuō shénme?
What did you say?

To be polite, you would say,
Qǐng wèn, nín shuō shénme?.
Please, what did you say? (Pardon?)

When someone’s words bother you or sound preposterous, you may be inclined to say, “What nonsense are you saying!”

Nǐ shuō de shénme huà!
What kind of words are you saying!

Here is a fun song that features the above line.

Click on the Show More link on that page to see the complete lyrics intraditional Chinese characters.

For the lyrics in simplified Chinese characters, click on this link.

Homework for this week: Look up a few other words that use the (yán) radical and try to use them in sentences.


You have my word

Trust (xìn)

(xìn) is the Chinese character for trust, faith or credibility. It is one of the popular characters used in Chinese given names. As a mnemonic for this word, think of your “shin” (a close approximation in pronunciation).

The character (xìn) is made up of the radical, (rén person), and the character for words or language, (yán). Good parents teach their children not to make loose promises, but to honor the words uttered. The traditional adage goes like this:

Rén yán wèi xìn.
A person’s word counts.

In the above, (wèi) is the formal word for “to be”, “to become” or “to act as”. In modern parlance, we use the word for “to be”.

When you always keep your promises, your words carry weight, and people will believe you and trust you.

As an adverb, (xiāng) means mutually. 相信 (xiāngxìn) is to believe or to trust someone. For example,

相信我. 我是為你好.
Xiāngxìn wǒ. Wǒ shì wèi nǐ hǎo.
Trust me, I’m for your well-being.
(Trust me. I have your best interest in mind.)

Here, (wèi) takes on the 4th tone and is used as the preposition “for”.

If you tell your girlfriend that you love her, but she gives you the following response, then you’d better try hard to find a good way to convince her.

Wǒ bù xìn.
I don’t believe it.

信任 (xìnrèn) means to trust and have confidence in someone. 信赖 (xìnlài) means to trust and count on someone.

Tā lǎobǎn xìnlài tā.
His boss trusts him.

Trust is of fundamental importance to any human relationship. Children need to trust their parents to feel secure. A loss of trust is often what breaks marriages. A trusted employee is a happy employee. Trust is the foundation of friendship. The great Chinese philosopher, Master Confucius, mentioned that each day he performs a self-examination by asking three questions, one of which was: “When dealing with friends, have I failed to keep my word?”

It used to be that a person’s words meant something, and a handshake made a deal.

好! 一言为定.
Hǎo! Yī yán wéi dìng.
All right! Our words seal the deal.
(OK. That’s settled then.)
You have my word.

Nowadays, you must call in your lawyer to put everything in writing and then have the document properly signed and notarized before you can have peace of mind. Needless to say, a bank won’t loan you money solely based on your promise to pay them back. But a little plastic card will do the trick.

信用 (xìnyòng) means trustworthiness or credit, and 信用卡 (xìnyòngkǎ) is a credit card. If a person has the habit of going back on his own word, people will say:

Tā méi xìnyòng.
He does not keep his word.

When you trust a higher being or a doctrine, you are said to have a belief, faith or conviction. The Chinese word for it is 信仰 (xìnyǎng). This word can also be used as a verb.

Tā xìnyǎng Shàngdì.
She believes in God.

A person’s words can be represented by a letter. Therefore, (xìn) also means a letter. 写信 (xiěxìn) means to write a letter. The following two sentences can be used interchangeably.

Xiě fēng xìn gěi wǒ.
Write a letter to me.

Gěi wǒ xiě fēng xìn.
Write me a letter.


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