Year-end accounting or reckoning

As the year draws to a close, it’s time to check and see if we owe anybody (such as the income tax authority) any money. Equally important, you might want to see if there is any money to be collected from your debtors or customers. In other words, it’s time to do some counting and accounting.

The Chinese word for counting is (suàn). You might want to review the Chinese numerals and the “Counting the Frogs” rhyme in Chapter 5 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes”.

计算 (jìsuàn) means to calculate. Simple calculations can be accomplished using 算术 (suànshù arithmetic). Some people can do it quickly in their head. They are said to be good with 心算 (xīnsuàn mental arithmetic). Others need the help of a 计算机 (jìsuànjī calculator) or a 电脑 (diànnǎo computer).

Do you know how to use an abacus, or 算盘 (suànpan)? In Chinese, wishful thinking is called 如意算盘 (rúyìsuànpan).

Nǐ bié dǎ rúyìsuànpan le.
Forget about your wishful thinking.

会计 (kuàijì) means bookkeeping or accounting, and 预算 (yùsuàn) means budget.

Míngnián de yùsuàn zuò hào le ma?
Is the buget for next year ready?

(suàn) also means “to count as” or “can be considered as”. In fact, it takes on quite a few other meanings when used in various words.

那不算. (Nà bù suàn.) means “That doesn’t count.”

Zhèi jiā fànguǎn kěyǐ suàn shì Xīyǎtú zuìhào de le.
This restaurant can be considered the best in Seattle.

算帐 (suànzhàng) could mean to tally the bills or to settle scores with someone.

Míngtiān wǒ qù zhǎo tā suànzhàng!
I’ll go reckon with him tomorrow!

While 计算 (jìsuàn) means to calculate, 算计 (suànji) usually is construed as plotting against someone.

打算 (dǎsuàn) is to think about doing something.

Nǐ dǎsuàn zěnme bàn?
What are you going to do about it?

For “Never mind.” or “Let it be.”, you could say 算了. (Suàn le.) or 算啦. (Suàn lā.). When uttered in an angry tone, 算了! (Suàn le!) or 算了吧! (Suàn le ba!) means “Forget it!” In a sarcastic tone, it’s equivalent to: “Don’t give me that!”

合算 (hésuàn), 划算 (huásuàn) and 上算 (shàngsuàn) all mean “to one’s gains”.

Zhème zuò bǐjiào huásuàn.
This way it will be more to our profit.

失算 (shīsuàn) means to miscalculate and suffer a loss or be disappointed.

暗算 (ànsuàn) is to secretly plot against someone.

算命 (suànmìng) means fortune-telling.

Nǐ xiāngxìn suànmìng de rén shuō de huà ma?
Do you believe what the fortune-tellers say?

Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year (with plenty of your own money to count)!

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anthony Bogadek
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 13:57:09

    Dear Ms Lin,
    A wonderful New Year to you along with inspiration to create many more new Mandarin Lessons.
    A few points about the latest lesson dated 26 December 2012:
    1. spelling: “In Chinse, wishful thinking….”): should be “In Chinese, …”
    2. the line “… (Na4 bu4 suan4.) means “That doesn’t count.” occurs twice in the text. I wonder whether that is intentional or is an editing slip-up.
    3. Towards the end of the lesson I see the word “fortunetellers” written as a single word. It might be so, I am not sure. My Oxford English dictionary shows it as a hyphenated word: fortune-tellers.
    All the best,
    Anthony Bogadek


    • likeabridge
      Dec 27, 2012 @ 16:53:33

      Hi Anthony,

      Thanks for pointing out the typos.

      “Fortuneteller”, “fortune-teller” and “fortune teller” are all in common use. For the sake of consistency, I changed fortuneteller in the text to fortune-teller.

      Have a Happy New Year!


  2. Anthony Bogadek
    Dec 27, 2012 @ 14:09:22

    Dear Miss Lin,
    Ah, two more things!
    1. towards the end of the lesson: “an4suan4 is to secretely plot …”:
    the spell-checker indicates it should be written “secretly”
    2. about “fortunetellers”: a few lines ahead of this word you have the line: “suan4ming4 means fortune-telling” ; here the word is hyphenated.
    Anthony B.


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