Raindrops in Spring

雨 (yǔ) Rain

雨 (yǔ) Rain

It just dawned on me that the witches I’ve seen in pictures and movies all seem so feisty and energetic. The secret to their vigor and stamina may well be in their brooms, which they ride to zip across the sky, and which they perhaps also use to madly sweep away anything they detest. So, grab your own broom and do some spring cleaning. 整理庭院 (zhěnglǐ tíngyàn doing yard work) and 做家事 (zuò jiāshì doing housework) also count as exercises, you know. In fact, when you sweep backwards using a broom, the motions are not unlike those of rowing a boat, or 划船 (huáchuán).

Then come back and enjoy a nifty ditty, 三月里的小雨 (Sānyuè Li De Xiǎoyǔ Light Rain in March), sung by 劉文正 (Liú Wénzhèng).

三月里 (sānyuè li) means “in the month of March”.

小雨 (xiǎoyǔ) is a light rain. 下雨 (xiàyǔ) means to rain.

淅沥 (xī lì) and 哗啦 (huālā) mimick the sound of the falling rain and rustling leaves, respectively. Often they appear together as 淅瀝哗啦 (xī lì huālā).

(tíng) is to stop. 不停 (bùtíng) means incessantly. 下个不停 (xià ge bùtíng) describes how the rain falls relentlessly. Here, (ge) takes on the “silent tone” and serves as a colloquial word particle rather than a unit of measure. Now you should know how to say “He sings non-stop.”

山谷里 (shāngǔ li) means “in the mountain valley”.

小溪 (xiǎoxī) is a brook, a rivulet, or a small stream.

为谁 (wèi shéi) means “for whom”.

(piāo) is to flutter or float in air. (liú) is to flow or to drift. As a noun it refers to a current or a stream of fluid. 飘流 (piāo liú) means to wander or to drift around.

(dài) as a verb means to carry, to bring, or to take along.

请把这本书带去给他.
Qǐng bǎ zhè běn shū dài qù gěi tā.
Please take this book to him.

带著满怀的凄清 (mǎnhuái de qī qīng) means carrying a heart full of desolate feelings.

陪伴 (péibàn) means to keep someone company.

(tīng) is to hear or listen.

(sù) is to tell, inform, complain or accuse.

他告诉我, 他的志趣在教书.
Tā gàosù wǒ, tā de zhìqù zài jiāoshú.
He told me his interests are in teaching school.

可知 (kě zhī) could be interpreted here as “do they know”. The rain keeps you company, the brook listens to your muttering, but do they know the loneliness in your heart?

寂寞 (jìmò) means lonely or loneliness.

请问小溪 (qǐngwèn) could be interpreted as: “I’d like to ask the little brook”

追寻 (zhuīxún) means to search for or to pursue.

一颗 (yī kē) is the unit of measure for the heart in the phrase 爱我的心 (ài wǒ de xīn the heart that loves me).

Let’s welcome spring by learning the Chinese word radical – Walk

春 (chūn) Spring

春 (chūn) Spring

A lazy cloud parks up there in clear blue sky, and birds are chirruping all around. Come tomorrow, it will be officially spring. Let’s open our arms to welcome 春天 (chūntiān springtime).

迎接 (yíngjiē) is to meet or greet. 迎春 (yíng chūn) is an abbreviation for 迎接春天 (yíngjiē chūntiān). It is also the name for the winter jasmine, as well as the name of one of the female characters in 红楼梦 (hónglóumèng Dream of the Red Mansion).

(yíng greet, welcome) takes on the reduced form of the word radical for (zǒu to walk), i.e. . You see, when one greets enthusiastically, one will tend to move forward to embrace the person, the news or the event. As resembles the character (zhī), this radical is named 走之旁 (zǒu zhī páng), or 走之底 (zǒu zhī dǐ). (páng) means on the side, referring to the radical’s placement on the left side. (dǐ) means at the bottom, referring to the tail of this radical that extends underneath the remainder of the character.

We know that 欢喜 (huānxǐ) means to be happy or delighted. Therefore, 欢迎 (huānyíng) means to happily greet or welcome someone or something. 不受欢迎 (bùshòuhuānyíng) means unwelcome.

他是全国最受欢迎的篮球明星.
Tā shì quánguó zuì shòuhuānyíng de lánqiú míngxīng.
He is the most popular basketball star in the nation.

挑战 (tiǎozhàn) means to challenge or a challenge. 迎接挑战 (yíngjiē tiǎozhàn), or 迎战 (yíngzhàn), is to face a challenge.

迎面 (yíngmiàn) means coming in one’s face, or head-on. Therefore, 迎风 (yíngfēng) means facing the wind.

轻风迎面吹来, 非常舒服.
Qīngfēng yíngmiàn chuī lái, fēicháng shūfu.
Soft wind blows in my face; it feels so good.

迎合 (yínghé) means to cater to someone else’s wishes or taste. 逢迎 (féngyíng) is to fawn on or to curry favor with the rich and/or powerful.

(zhuī) is to chase, run after, or pursue. It is also the abbreviation for 追求 (zhuīqiú), which means to seek, to pursue or to court. 理想 (lǐxiǎng) is an ideal. 理想的 (lǐxiǎng de) is the adjective that means ideal or perfect. 追求理想 (zhuīqiú lǐxiǎng) is to pursue one’s ideals. On the other hand, 追求理想的配偶 (zhuīqiú lǐxiǎng de pèiǒu) means to court one’s ideal mate.

看来亨利在追丽莎.
Kànlai Hēnglì zài zhuī lì shā.
Looks like Henry is courting Lisa.

(dá) as a verb means to reach a place, to attain a goal, or to successfully comminicate a message. For example, 传达消息 (chuándá xiāoxi) is to pass on a piece of information or news.

退 (tuì) is to step back, to retreat or to withdraw or cancel. So, 退租 (tuì zū) is to cancel a rental, such as a tenant terminating the renting of an apartment.

(yuǎn) means distant, far away or remote. The opposite is (jìn), or near.

(yāo), or 邀请 (yāoqǐng), is to invite or to solicit. Usually, if you say 邀请 (yāoqǐng) or (qǐng), you are expected to be the host and foot the bill. If you don’t intend to pay for the other party, then just say (yāo).

我想邀你们一同去看电影.
Wǒ xiǎng yāo nǐmen yītóng qù kàn diànyǐng.
I’d like to ask you to go together with me to watch a movie.

Following are a few words that contain the full-blown radical.

(fù) means to go to or attend an event. 赴约 (fù yuē) is to go to a date or appointment. 失约 (shīyuē) is to fail to keep an appointment or date.

(qǐ) means to rise, get up, stand up, set up, or start up. For example, 起床 (qǐchuáng) is to get out of bed.

(qù) means interest or fun. 有趣 (yǒuqù) means interesting or amusing. 志趣 (zhìqù) is one’s aspiration or inclination.

(gǎn) is to drive away, to catch up with or to dash for something.

赶快来!
Gǎnkuài lái!
Hurry and come!
(Or, in a commanding tone, “Get here this minute!”)

Now that you are getting a rush learning about the “walk” radical, hurry and look up other words that contain either form of the walk radical and that might be useful to add to your vocabulary.

Thinking logically in Chinese

帽子 (màozǐ) Hats

帽子 (màozǐ) Hats


You probably already know that 帽子 (màozǐ) is a cap or a hat. When it rains, you would put on your 雨帽 (yǔmào a rain cap or a hood). When it’s hot and sunny, girls may put on their 草帽 (cǎomào straw hats).

礼貌 (lǐmào) means politeness or manners. 有礼貌 (yǒu lǐmào) is being polite and courteous. On the other hand, 礼帽 (lǐmào) is a hat that goes with formal dress, such as a top hat.

军帽 (jūnmào) is an army cap. 脱帽致敬 (tuōmào zhìjìng) means to salute by taking off one’s hat.

The unit for hats is (dǐng). With regards to clothing articles or ornaments, (dài) means to wear or to put on.

他戴着一顶帽子.
Tā dài zhe yī dǐng màozi.
He is wearing a hat.

Please note that 戴高帽子 (dài gāomàozi) means to give someone gratuitous flattery.

你别给我戴高帽子.
Nǐ bié gěi wǒ dài gāomàozi.
Quit your flattery.

Now, on to a well-known puzzle that calls for putting on your thinking cap.

Three intelligent gentlemen are detained for some reason. Their captor agrees to set them free if they are able to solve a puzzle. He orders them to stand in a line, one behind the other, all facing the same direction, and to close their eyes. After placing one hat on the head of each of the three gentlemen, the captor lets the gentlemen open their eyes. He announces that altogether there are two black hats and two white hats, and that the fourth hat is hidden in a closet. If any one of the gentlemen correctly guesses what color hat he is wearing, without looking in a mirror or communicating with the other two gentlemen, all three will be set free. Given that the gentleman at the very back can see what hats the two gentlemen in front of him wear, the gentleman in the middle can only see what the first gentleman wears, and the gentleman at the front cannot see what anyone was wearing, how do you suppose they will be able to resolve this dilemma?

我们知道一共有两顶黑帽子和两顶白帽子.
Wǒmén zhīdào yīgòng yǒu liǎng dǐng hēi màozi hé liǎng dǐng bái màozi.
We know that altogether there are two black hats and two white hats.

一位绅士站在前面.
Yī wèi shēnshì zhàn zài qiánmiàn.
One gentleman stands at the front.

一位绅士站在中间.
Yī wèi shēnshì zhàn zài zhōngjiān.
One gentleman stands in the middle.

一位绅士站在后面.
Yī wèi shēnshì zhàn zài hòumian.
One gentleman stands at the back.

如果前面两位绅士戴相同颜色的帽子,
Rúguǒ qiánmiàn liǎng wèi shēnshì dài xiāngtóng yánsè de màozi,
If the two gentlemen in front are wearing the same color hats,

最后面的那位绅士就会猜到自己的帽子的颜色.
zuì hòumian de nèi wèi shēnshì jiù huì cāi dào zìjǐ de màozi de yánsè.
the gentleman in the very back will be able to guess the color of his own hat.

如果最后面的那位绅士不说话,
Rúguǒ zuì hòumian de nèi wèi shēnshì bù shuōhuà,
If the gentleman in the very back says nothing,

那么表示前面两位绅士戴着不同颜色的帽子.
nàme biǎoshì qiánmiàn liǎng wèi shēnshì dài zhe bùtóng yánsè de màozi.
then this indicates that the two gentlemen in front have different color hats on.

因为中间的那位绅士看得到前面的帽子,
Yīnwei zhōngjiān de nèi wèi shēnshì kàn de dào qiánmiàn de màozi,
Because the gentleman in the middle can see the hat in front of him,

所以他可以猜到自己的帽子的颜色.
suǒyǐ tā kěyǐ cāi dào zìjǐ de màozi de yánsè.
therefore he will be able to correctly guess the color of his own hat.

Sentences involving such word pairs as 如果 (rúguǒ) + 那么 (nàme), and 因为 (yīnwei) + 所以 (suǒyǐ), are complex sentences. Please review Chapter 25 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” to see how to construct complex sentences using the 5 W’s.

Black and White in Chinese

Black and white contrast nicely in a graphic design.

Black and white contrast nicely in a graphic design.

As a color, (hēi) means black, and (bái) means white. Both of these words have a number of different meanings and connotations.

白菜 (báicài) is a general term for Chinese cabbage, of which there are several varieties. 大白菜 (dàbáicài) is the large and heavy variety with tightly-wrapped pale leaves. It is also known in the West as Napa cabbage or Chinese lettuce. The pale green and slender loose-leaf type is called 小白菜 (xiǎobáicài white rape). If you are after the smaller variety with crunchy dark-green leaves shaped like Chinese soup spoons, then ask for 青康菜 (Qīng Kāng cài) or 瓢儿菜 (piáor cài). What’s known as “bok choy” has very dark green leaves with sturdy white stalks. Actually, “bok” and “choi” are not Mandarin sounds. “choi” is the Romanization of the Cantonese pronunciation of (cài vegetables).

白米 (báimǐ) are rice grains from which the husks have been removed. It is the regular white rice sold in grocery stores. 蛋白 (dànbái) are egg whites, and 蛋白质 (dànbáizhì) are proteins. 白血球 (báixiěqiú) are white blood cells.

White is usually associated with cleanliness and purity, as in 洁白 (jiébái spotless). It is also associated with brightness or clarity, as in 白天 (báitiān daytime) or 明白 (míngbai clear, to understand), respectively.

现在我明白了.
Xiànzài wǒ míngbai le.
Now I understand.

坦白 (tǎnbái) means to be frank and candid.

坦白说, 他不适合这职位.
Tǎnbái shuō, tā bù shìhé zhè zhíwèi.
Frankly, he is not well suited to this position.

(bái) also means blank, gratis or in vain.

白痴 (báichī) is an idiot. On the other hand, 白吃 (báichī) means to freeload.

白白 (báibái) means “for nothing”. Do not confuse this with 拜拜 (báibái), which is the Chinese transliteration for “bye-bye”.

为了这件事, 我白白损失了一百元.
Wèile zhèi jiàn shì, wǒ báibái sǔnshī le yī bǎi yuán.
Because of this, I lost one hundred yuan for nothing.

苍白 (cāngbái) means pale or ashen. You could use it to describe gray hair or a wan face.

In contrast, 黑油油 (hēiyōuyōu) means jet-black, or black and shiny. 漆黑 (qīhēi) or 黑漆漆 (hēiqīqī) means pitch-black.

外面黑漆漆; 我不敢出去.
Wàimian hēiqīqī, wǒ bùgǎn chúqu.
It’s pitch-dark out there; I dare not go outside.

黑暗 (hēiàn) means darkness or dark, both in the sense of lacking illumination and in the sense of being shady or evil.

黑心 (hēixīn) is an evil mind. As an adjective, it means being unconscionable. You may have heard news stories about 黑心食品 (hēixīn shípǐn) produced by dishonest manufacturers who have no regard for the consumers’ health. These foods contain cheap non-food-grade ingredients or are tainted with toxic substitutes. One really needs to be careful about what one chooses to ingest.

黑帮 (hēibāng) is a sinister gang, and 黑手党 (hēishǒudǎng) are the Mafia. 黑名单 (hēimíngdān) is a blacklist, and 黑客 (hēikè) is another way of saying computer hackers. When you exchange news about corruption or other wrong-doings in a conversation, you might shake your head and add this remark:

天下乌鸦一般黑.
Tiānxiàwūyāyībānhēi.
The evil are all the same the world over.
(All ravens in the world are equally black.)

黑白 (hēibái) means black & white, or right and wrong. For example, 黑白照片 (hēibái zhàopiàn) is a black & white photo.

你们不可以黑白不分.
Nǐmen bù kěyǐ hēibáibùfēn.
You should not be without a sense of right and wrong.

清楚 (qīngchǔ) means clear and well-defined, easy to see or understand. Suppose an argument comes up regarding your rented apartment, and you are in the right, show your 房东 (fángdōng landlord or landlady) the rental agreement and say:

白纸黑字, 一清二楚.
Báizhǐhēizì, yīqīngèrchǔ.
Here it is in black and white, and crystal clear.

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