English-Chinese Homophones (3)

母牛 (mǔniú) Cow


Here are a few more English words that sound like Chinese words. These and the examples that I mentioned previously are not exhaustive by any means. You will discover many more on your own as you enlarge your Chinese vocabulary. As for the Chinese homophones, trust me, there are tons more. This is one of the reasons why the modern Chinese language is replete with polysyllable words. Combining a character with one or more other characters greatly reduces the ambiguity created by the homonyms of the individual characters.

Me (mì secret) (mì tight, dense, secret) (mì honey, sweet)

他是我的秘书.
Tā shì wǒ de mìshū
He is my secretary.

这是我的秘密.
Zhè shì wǒ de mìmì.
This is my secret.

不要听他的甜言蜜语.
Bùyào tīng tā de tián yán mì yǔ.
Don’t listen to his sweet talk.

May (mèi younger sister) (mèi charm, evil spirit)

他的妹妹很漂亮.
Tā de mèimei hěn piàoliàng.
His younger sister is very pretty.

他有政治魅力.
Tā yǒu zhèngzhì mèilì.
He has political charm.

One (wàn 10000, by all means) (wàn wrist)

万一下雨, 怎么办.
Wàn yī xiàyǔ,zěnme bàn?
In case it rains, what to do?
(This is a complex sentence.)

他的手腕高明.
Tā de shǒuwàn gāomíng.
His stratagem is brilliant.

Pie? (pái arrange, a row, discharge) (pái tag, sign, cards)

你这样安排, 很好.
Nǐ zhèyàng ānpái, hěn hǎo.
You’ve made a good plan.

你打扑克牌吗?
Nǐ dǎ pūkè pái ma?
Do you play poker?

Sue (sù tell, accuse) (sù velocity, quickly) (sù plain, non-meat, innate)

Well, in the sense of 诉讼 (sùsòng law suit, litigation), here we have a Mandarin English coincidence.

不要告诉她.
Bùyào gàosù tā.
Don’t tell her.

开车不要超速.
Kāichē bùyào chāosù.
While driving a car, do not break the speed limit.

她吃素.
Tā chīsù.
She is a vegetarian.

Tea (tì for, substitute for, on behalf of) (tì shave)

你代替我去, 好吗?
Nǐ dàitì wǒ qù, hǎo ma?
Go in my place, okay?

他替我剃了胡子.
Tā tì wǒ tì le húzi.
He shaved my beard for me.

我想买一把剃刀.
Wǒ xiǎng mǎi yī bǎ tìdāo.
I’d like to buy a razor.

Way (wèi for) (wèi flavor) (wèi)

她为你流了不少眼泪.
Tā wèi nǐ liú le bùshǎo yǎnlèi.
She shed a lot of tears for your sake.

这汤味道不错.
Zhè tāng wèidào bùcuò..
This soup taste pretty good (not bad).

我的胃不大舒服
Wǒ de wèi bùdà shūfu.
My stomach does not feel very well.

Yeo (yòu again) (yòu righthand side) (yòu young)

他又生病了.
Tā yòu shēngbìng le.
He fell ill again.

请靠右边走.
Qǐng kào yòubiān zǒu.
Please walk on the righ side.

这间幼儿园不错.
Zhè jiān yòuéryuán bùcuò.
This nursery school is not bad.

For your information, it’s not that easy to find commonly used Chinese characters that are without any homophones. Following are a few such loners:

(nín) is the polite form of you.

(sú) means a custom or convention. It also indicates vulgarness, as in:

他的穿着很俗气.
Tā de chuānzhuó hěn súqi.
His apparael shows poor taste.

(lū) is a grumble, a chatter, or a gurgling sound.

不知道他们叽哩咕噜地在说些什么.
Bù zhīdào tāmen jīligūlū de zài shuō xiē shénme.
Don’t know what they are jabbering about.

(xú) is a Chinese last name. It also means slow. This word is used more in writing than in everyday speech.

(bí) is the nose, which is usually referred to as 鼻子 (bízi).

(běi) is the north direction.

(gěi) is to give.

(shéi) means who.

(pāi) is to pat or to beat. It can also be used as a noun that means a clap, a slap, a swat or a musical beat. 拍手 (pāishǒu) is to clap one’s hands.

(gǎi) means to change or to alter.

她改变了行程.
Tā gǎibiàn le xíngchéng.
He changed his travel plan.

As a verb, (tòu) means to penetrate. As an adverb it means “thoroughly”. 透明 (tòumíng) means transparent. (tòu) sounds just like “toe”.

That’s it for now, folks. But wait, I hear a cow go, “Moo!”. Does she mean (mǔ mother, female [animal]) or (mǔ a unit of area, about 0.0667 hectare)?

English-Chinese Homophones (2)

Today we will look at a few more one-syllable English words that sound like Chinese. For each of these English words, there are many additional Chinese homophones that are not included here. Also, if you utter the English word using a different “tone”, then it will correspond to a different list of Chinese homophones. In any case, I hope that this list will help you remember a few Chinese words by phonic association.

Fun (fàn cooked rice, meal) (fàn peddler, resell)

我每天吃饭.
Wǒ měitiān chīfàn.
I have rice every day.
(Mnemonic: I have fun everyday.)

那儿有个卖面的摊贩.
Nàr yǒu gè màimiàn de tānfàn.
Over there there’s a noodle peddler.

Go (gòu sufficient, enough) (gòu purchase)

这样够了.
Zhèyàng gòu le.
This is sufficient. (This is plenty.)

那一个购物中心.
Nà shì yī gè gòuwùzhōngxīn.
That is a shopping center.

Goo (gù old, incident, cause) (gù solid, firm) (gù look, look after)

我喜欢听故事.
Wǒ xǐhuān tīng gùshi.
I like to listen to stories (literally, past events).

他很顽固.
Tā hěn wángù.
He is very stubborn.

我们应该照顾年老的父母.
Wǒmen yīnggāi zhàogu niánlǎo de fùmǔ.
We should look after our elderly parents.

Hoe (hòu time, season, to wait) (hòu behind, after)

他什么时候来?
Tā shénme shíhòu lái?
What time is he coming?

他后天来.
Tā hòutiān lái.
He is coming the day after tomorrow.

In (yīn overcase, obscure) (yīn sound, tone, news)

今天是阴天.
Jīntiān shì yīntiān.
It’s a cloudy day today.

你喜欢听哪一种音乐?
Nǐ xǐhuān tīng nǎ yī zhǒng yīnyuè?
What type of music do you enjoy listening to?

Joe (jiù rescue) (jiù mother’s brother)

救命呀!
Jiùmìng ya!
Save my life! (Help!)

他是我的舅舅.
Tā shì wǒ de jiùjiù.
He is my uncle.

Knee (nì contrary,to go against) (nì to drown,to be addicted to)

忠言逆耳.
Zhōng yán nì ěr.
Earnest advice grate on the ear. (Chinese adage.)

不要溺爱子女.
Bùyào nì’ài zǐnǚ.
Don’t spoil the children.

Lay (lèi tired) (lèi tears)

我累了.
Wǒ lèi le.
I’m tired.

她流了不少眼泪.
Tā liú le bùshǎo yǎnlèi.
She shed a lot of tears.

Lee? (lí pears) (lí to leave)

你喜欢吃梨子吗?
Nǐ xǐhuān chī lízi ma?
Do you like to eat pears?

分离是痛苦的事.
Parting is a painful event.

Low (lòu to leak, to leave out) (lòu plain, ugly)

屋顶漏水了.
Wūdǐng lòu shuǐ le.
The roof is leaking.

这房屋很简陋.
Zhè fángwū hěn jiǎnlòu.
This house is crudely built.

English-Chinese Homophones (1)

One of the things that contribute to the difficulty of learning the Chinese language is the abunance of homophones, i.e. different characters or different words that sound exactly the same. If you look up a Chinese character in a dictionary by its pinyin, you will often find many more than what you asked for. When you have become proficient in the language, you will be able to determine the correct character used based on the context, or based on the polysyllable word in which the character occurs. However, the beginning learner is likely to be confused. For example, 愚人 (yúrén) is a fool, while 渔人 (yúrén) is a fisherman. In fact, to avoid confusion, we usually say 傻子 (shǎzi a fool) instead of 愚人 (yúrén).

On the other hand, it’s not that bad if you look at it this way: You only need to learn one sound to cover a number of different Chinese words. In fact, many of these sounds are plain everyday English words. Therefore, you are uttering a few Chinese words everyday without knowing it. Just look at the following examples, and you will see.

Aye (ài love) (ài hinder, block)

我爱你.
Wǒ ài nǐ.
I love you.

不要阻碍我. (zǔài)
Bùyào zǔài wǒ.
Don’t be in my way.

Bay (bèi seashells) (bèi the back of something)

她收集贝壳.
Tā shōují bèiké.
She collects seashells.

她站在我的背后.
Tā zhàn zài wǒ de bèihòu.
She is standing behnd me.

Bee (bì finish, complete) (bì wall)

他明年毕业.
Tā míngnián bìyè.
He will graduate next year.

墙壁上有只虫.
Qiángbì shàng yǒu zhǐ chóng.
There is an insect on the wall.

Boo (bù no, not) (bù a step)

他不高興.
Tā bù gāoxìng.
He is not pleased.

一步一步慢慢走.
Yī bù yī bù mànmàn zǒu.
Walk slowly, step by step.

Dee (dì younger brother) (dì fields, ground)

我弟弟还太小.
Wǒ dì di hái tài xiǎo.
My brother is still too young.

他坐在地上.
Tā zuò zài dì shàng.
He sits on the ground.

Die (dài a belt, to bring) (dài to substitue, an era)

你带我去, 好吗?
Nǐ dài wǒ qù, hǎo ma?
Take me along, okay?

你代我去, 好吗?
Nǐ dài wǒ qù, hǎo ma?
Go in my place, okay?

Dough (dòu beans) (dòu to tease)

豆腐是用黄豆做的.
Dòufu shì yòng huángdòu zuò de.
Bean curds are made from soybeans.

我是逗著你玩兒的.
Wǒ shì dòu zhe nǐ wánr de.
I’m just teasing you.

Done (dàn eggs) (dàn bland, diluted) (dàn but, however)

你爱吃蛋黄还是蛋白?
Nǐ ài chī dànhuáng hái shì dànbái?
Do you prefer to eat yolks or egg whites?

这汤很淡.
Zhè tāng hěn dàn.
This soup is rather light in taste.

我做完毕了, 但是他不满意.
Wǒ zuò wánbì le, dànshì tā bù mǎnyì.
I have completed the job, but he is not pleased.

That’s right, this is a compund sentence.
———————————————————————————-
Anwer to last week’s question about a compound-complex sentence:

他会来, 但是, 如果他来的时候, 我不在,
Tā huì lái, dànshì, rúguǒ tā lái de shíhòu, wǒ bùzài,
He will come, but if when he comes, I’m not here,

那么, 我们还是不能见面.
nàme, wǒmen háishì bùnéng jiànmiàn.
then we still won’t be able to meet.

What’s a compound-complex sentence?

Compound-Complex Sentence


All the sentence patterns that I presented previously belong to the category of the simple sentence, which basically consists of one subject and one predicate. There’s really nothing complicated about compound and complex sentences. You are using them all the time. The Chinese form compound and complex sentences in much the same way as you do in English.

VIII. Compound Sentence = Independent Clause + Independent Clause
When you stick two or more independent statements together, you have formed a compound sentence.
Each statement within a compound sentence follows the structure of a simple sentence, and is called an independent clause. Just as we have likened the simple sentence to a small one-story dwelling, we could think of a compound sentence as a one-story duplex, triplex or quadruplex. Each individual unit is an independent entity that does not affect the other units.

The independent statements in a compound sentence are usually joined togther by such conjuctives as “and”, “or”, “but” and “however”.

As shown in the following example, the “and” conjunctive is often omitted in Chinese:

我会说英语, 我也会说葡萄牙语.
Wǒ huì shuō yīngyǔ, wǒ yě huì shuō pútáoyáyǔ.
I speak English, and I also speak Portuguese.

可是. (kěshì) and 但是. (dànshì) both mean “but” or “however”.

我会说英语, 可是我不会说葡萄牙语.
Wǒ huì shuō yīngyǔ, kěshì wǒ bùhuì shuō pútáoyáyǔ.
I speak English, but I cannot speak Portuguese.

IX. Complex Sentence = Dependent Clause + Independent Clause
A complex sentence is like a two-story house, the upper story being dependent on the lower story because it cannot stand on its own. There are a few different types of dependent clauses. The following examples employ adverbial clauses that describe a condition under which the action in the independent clause takes place. For additional examples of the various types of dependent clauses, see Chapter 25 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

如果你累了, 休息一下吧. .
Rúguǒ lèi le, xiūxī yīxià ba.
If you feel tired, rest a bit.

Obviously, “If you feel tired” is not a complete sentence. If you just say this to someone, and nothing else, he or she would be cranking his or her neck in anticipation of what’s to follow. This is why such a clause is called a dependent clause. The main statement, “rest a bit” is the independent clause.

The following line is quoted from the second stanza of 情人的眼泪 (qíngrén de yǎnlèi), or “Lover’s Tears”. We talked about the first stanza of this song in a previous post.

要不是有情郎跟我要分开,
Yàobushi yǒu qíng láng gēn wǒ yào fēnkāi,
Were it not that my lover is parting with me,

我眼泪掉不会掉下来, 掉下来.
Wǒ yǎnlèi bùhuì diào xiàlai, diào xiàlai.
my tears won’t be falling down, falling down.

Now that the rainy season is upn us, you might want to heed this advice:

当你感觉天色不对的时候,
Dāng nǐ gǎnjué tiānsè bùduì de shíhòu,
At the time when you sense that the color of the sky isn’t right,

那么, 你最好把雨伞带好.
nàme, nǐ zuìhào bǎ yǔsǎn dài hǎo.
then it’s best that you bring the umbrella along.

Just as with English, you can often omit a few words from a sentence and still retain its full meaning. You can see how this is done in the third stanza of the lyrics for the song, 雨中即景 (Yǔ Zhōng Jíjǐng The Rain Impromptu), which we looked at previously.

感觉天色不对,
Gǎnjué tiānsè bùduì,
When you sense that the sky’s color isn’t right,

最好把雨伞带好.
zuìhào bǎ yǔsǎn dài hǎo.
it would be best to bring the umbrella along.

X. Compound-Complex Sentence = two or more independent clauses + one or more dependent clauses
Here we are talking about the eqivalent of a two-story duplex, in which one of the two units may be a single-level abode.

The following example contains two independent clauses and one dependent clause. Do you see that “如果下雨 (rúguǒ xiàyǔ)” is the dependent clause?

我会来, 但是如果下雨, 我会迟到.
Wǒ huì lái, dànshì rúguǒ xiàyǔ, wǒ huì chídào.
I will come, but if it rains then I will be late.

In the song, 給我一個吻 (Gěi Wǒ Yī Gè Wěn Give Me A Kiss), that we talked about before, there are actually two pairs of independent clauses nestled within a complex sentence structure.

纵然瞪著你的眼睛,你不答应,
Zòngrán dèng zhe nǐ de yǎnjing, nǐ bù dāying,
Though you glare at me, and you won’t consent,

我也要向你请求,决不灰心.
wǒ yě yào xiàng nǐ qǐngqiú, juébù huīxīn.
I still will beg you, and won’t lose heart.

Now, how would you translate the following sentence to Chinese?

He will come, but if when he comes, I’m not here, then we still won’t be able to meet.

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