Things to be thankful for in Chinese

Pumpkin and Acorn Squash

Pumpkin and Acorn Squash


As I bring in an acorn squash from my garden as the last of the harvest of the year, my heart is filled with gratitude. Indeed I’m thankful for many other things. Here is a partial list. I am sure you can add many more to your own list (in Chinese, please).


Gǎnxiè fùmǔ de yǎngyù.
Thanks to my parents for bringing me up.

Gǎnxiè jiārén de àihù.
Thanks to my family members for loving me.

Gǎnxiè lǎoshī de jiàodǎo.
Thanks to my teachers for educating me.

Gǎnxiè péngyǒu fēnxiǎng huānlè jí fēndān yōulǜ.
Thanks to my friends for sharing my joys and worries.

Gǎnxiè línjū de yǒuqíng hé bāngzhù.
Thanks to my neighbors for their friendship and help.

Gǎnxiè tóngshì de hézuò.
Thanks to my colleagues for their collaboration.

Gǎnxiè nóngrén shēngchǎn liángshi.
Thanks to the farmers who produce food for us.

Gǎnxiè yī hù rényuán de yīliáo
Thanks to the health care professionals for their treatments

Gǎnxiè yóuchāi dìsòng xìnjiàn jí bāoguǒ.
Thanks to the mailman for delivering the mail and packages.

Gǎnxiè nénggòu jūzhù zài wěndìng de shèhuì.
Thanks for being able to live in a stable society.

Gǎnxiè nénggòu hūxī xīnxiān de kōngqì jí hē qīngjié de shuǐ.
Thanks for having clean air to breathe and clean water to drink.

Gǎnxiè yǒu měihǎo de dàzìrán kěyǐ xīnshǎng.
Thanks for the beauty in nature for everyone to appreciate.

Gǎnxiè yǒu yuè’ěr de yīnyuè fǔwèi wǒmén de xīnlíng.
Thanks for the beautiful music that comforts the soul.

Gǎnxiè nénggòu tōngguò wǎnglù huòqǔ fēngfù de zhīshí
Thanks for the Internet that connects me with a wealth of knowledge.

Gǎnxiè dúzhě ài yuè wǒde shū jí wǎngyē.
Thanks to my readers for reading my books and web page.

Granted that not all days are rosy, and each one of us has some problems to deal with, let’s remember, though, that it could be much worse. As we’ve mentioned before,

比上不足, 比下有餘.
Bǐshàngbùzú, bǐxiàyǒuyú.
Things may fall short of the best but still be better than the worst.

Gǎnēn jié kuàilè!
Happy Thanksgiving!


Which day is Father’s Day?

In the United States and a number of other countries the second Sunday of May is designated Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day follows one month plus one week later. In Taiwan, Father’s Day is celebrated on August 8th, because 八月八日 (bāyuè bā rì) can be abbreviated as 八八 (bā bā), which sounds similar to 爸爸 (bàba father, dad).

Liùyuè de dìsān gè xīngqīrì shì Fùqin jié.
The third Sunday of June is Father’s Day.

Traditionally mothers assume all the chores of raising the kids, but the landscape has changed. Nowadays fathers are able to form a close bond with the children and earn a large share of their affection. There are also single-parent families with the father doing double-duty to provide both paternal and maternal love and care. Here is an interesting playlet “My Father”, which I think you will be able to follow with the help of the English subtitles. Following is a discussion of some of the words and expressions used in the video.

单亲家庭 (dān qīn jiātíng) is a single-parent family.

As an adjective, (dān) means single, alone, only, plain or weak. As a noun it can refer to a sheet, as in 被单 (bèidān a bedsheet), a list, as in 菜单 (càidān a menu of dishes of food), or a bill, as in 账单 (zhàng dān a bill or an invoice).

作文 (zuòwén) is to write a composition on a subject assigned by the teacher. The title of the composition is called 题目 (tímù), which also means topic or examination questions on a test.

The kid in the video is to write a composition titled “My Father”. His father also happens to be his school teacher.

身材 (shēncái) is one’s stature or figure.

Tā de shēncái hěn miáotiao.
Her figure is quite slender and fine.

和蔼可亲 (héǎikěqīn) is commonly used to describe an amiable person. The kid describes the father he knows as nice and humorous, or 幽默 (yōumò). However, his father, being his 级任老师 (jí rèn lǎoshī home-room teacher) and a 训导老师 (xùn dǎo lǎoshī) in charge of disciplining the students, is a rather different person during school hours.

罚站 (fá zhàn) is a form of punishment often employed by teachers (and some parents). Standing in a corner and barred from the normal activities, the child is apt to feel humiliated.

相处 (xiāngchǔ) means to get along with someone.

Wǒmén xiāngchǔ de hěn hǎo.
We get along very well.

(jiāo) has multiple meanings. 交功课 (jiāo gōngkè) means to hand in one’s schoolwork. If you fail to do so, you get disciplined.

人类 (rénlèi) means humankind, 灵魂 (línghún) is one’s soul, and 工程师 (gōngchéngshī) is an engineer. The kid humorously refers to teachers as 人类灵魂工程师 (rénlèi línghún gōngchéngshī), or engineers of the human soul.

自从 (zìcóng) means “since a certain time in the past”. 自小 (zì xiǎo) and 从小 (cóng xiǎo) both mean “since an early age”.

承担 (chéngdān) is to assume the responsibility of a task. 责任 (zérèn) means duty or responsibility.承担责任 (chéngdān zérèn) is to be responsible for a duty or a problem. 辅导 (fǔdào) means to give guidance to someone.

缺乏 (quēfá) means to be lacking in something.

因此 (yīncǐ) means therefore or consequently.

公司缺乏资金, 因此不容易经营.
Gōngsī quēfá zījīn, yīncǐ bù róngyì jīngyíng.
The company is short of funds, and is therefore not easy to operate.

We learned in December of 2012 that 算了. (Suàn le.) means “Never mind.”, “That’s okay.” or “Let it be.” The kid is unhappy about being punished by his own father, but then he acknowledges that he himself is partly to blame. He loves his father nonetheless.

Fùqin jié kuàilè!
Happy Father’s Day!

He happy?

“A woman wife is my sharp.”

I see you scratching your head. You know every word in this sentence, but this line simply doesn’t make sense – until you unscramble it to read: “My wife is a sharp woman.” This goes to show that, to make a meaningful statement, it’s quite important to put the words in the proper order. Shooting out the words any which way just won’t cut it.

Over the ages, each population sharing the same language has arrived at a concensus about what “sounds right”. When you are learning a new language, it is natural to want to apply the language rules with which you are familiar. This is why pidgin English was prevalent among the coolies who came over from China in the 19th century and early 20th century to earn a living. To make the statement: “He is happy.”, someone might say:

Tā kuàilè.

Therefore, to put it in English, he would say, “He happy.” This sounds perfectly all right to the Chinese ear.

In a similar way, if you simply superimpose English grammar onto Chinese words, your statements may become jumbled and difficult to understand. I think this is a good time to caution you against trying to translate your English statements into Chinese verbatim. Instead, please focus on the meaning you wish to get across and put the relevant Chinese words and phrases into the proper Chinese sentence patterns.

Fortunately, human minds work more or less alike, and you will be pleasantly surprised that many sentence patterns are similar in English and Chinese. Last week we learned two simple sentence patterns. To make them more concise, we will employ the names of the parts of speech, such as nouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, etc. You know that the name of anyone or anything you can see or feel or think about or talk about is considered a noun. We will let the term “Noun” also represent noun phrases such as “my beautiful wife”. A word or phrase that describes a noun is an adjective. A word or phrase that modifies an adjective or a verb is an adverb. I will rewrite the first two sentence patterns as follows:

I. Noun + Adjective

Tā de yǎnjing dà.
Her eyes are large.

Please note that the “be” verb is omitted in this Chinese sentence pattern, which is commonly used when one wishes to express one’s feeling or opinion about someone or something.

If her eyes are large and bright, you would say:

Tā de yǎnjing dà yòu liàng.
Her eyes are large and also bright.

(yòu) means “also” or “again”. It may be used singly or in a pair, such as in: 又大又亮 (yòu dà yòu liàng large and bright as well).

Listen to the song “Lift Your Veil” by clicking on the link below, and see if you can pick out the sentences that follow the above sentence pattern. This song is fully annotated in “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” to illustrate the use of adjectives.

Lift Your Veil (video)


You may insert an adverb to qualify the description. For example, (hěn) means “very”, and (tài) means “exceedingly”.

Fēngniǎo hěn kěài.
Hummingbirds are very lovely (cute).

Wǒ de nǚyǒu hěn piàoliàng.
My girlfriend is very pretty.

Tā tài xiǎoqì le!
He is too stingy!

II. Noun + (shì) + Noun

Tā shì xiàozhǎng.
He is the school principal.

Wǒ xiānsheng shì yī wèi lǎoshī.
My husband is a teacher.

Wǒ tàitai shì gè línglì de nǚrén.
My wife is a quick-witted woman.

This sentence pattern works the same in English as in Chinese. The noun phrases may contain optional adjectives. To show respect to teachers, we use 一位 (yī wèi) instead of 一个 (yī gè)

How would you describe yourself? Also find some nice words to describe your family and your friends. As for the people you don’t like, there are plenty of appropriate words in your dictionary for them as well.

%d bloggers like this: