March in Chinese

水仙花 (shuǐxiàn huā) Daffodils

水仙花 (shuǐxiàn huā) Daffodils


If you know that (yuè) stands for “month”, and you can count to 12 in Chinese, then you know how to say the names of the twelve months in Chinese. March is the third month of a year. Therefore, it is called 三月 (sānyuè). Last year about this time we learned a song called 三月里的小雨 (Sānyuè Li De Xiǎoyǔ Light Rain in March). If you would like to review that lesson, here is a quick link.

In English, to march means to walk forward or to advance with determination. The corresponding Chinese word is (xíng), which happens to have a number of other meanings as well.

行军 (xíngjūn) refers to the marching of troops.

行人 (xíngrén) are pedestrians. 人行道 (rénxíngdào) is a walkway for people, i.e. a sidewalk or pavement. A one-way road is called 单行线 (dānxíngxiàn).

自行车 (zìxíngchē) and 脚踏车 (jiǎotàchē) both refer to a bicycle.

旅行 (lǚxíng) is a journey or travel. You can also use this word as a verb. 旅行社 (lǚxíng shè) is a travel agency. You might contact them to arrange a plane ticket or to inquire about joining a 旅行团 (lǚxíng tuán tourist group).

我们打算参加旅行团到日本去玩.
Wǒmén dǎsuàn cānjiā lǚxíng tuán dào rìběn qù wán.
We plan to join a travel group to tour Japan.

送行 (sòngxíng) is to see someone off. 行程 (xíngchéng) is an itinerary or the distance of travel.

行李 (xínglǐ) means luggage or baggage. This is not to be confused with 行礼 (xínglǐ to salute), in which (xíng) means “to do”. Following are a few other examples of using the word in this sense.

实行 (shíxíng) means to carry out or to execute a plan or a policy. 行为 (xíngwéi) means behavior or conduct.

进行 (jìnxíng) means to march on or to be in progress. It also means to get on a task.

警方正在进行调查.
Jǐngfāng zhèngzài jìnxíng diàochá.
The police are conducting an investigation.

Many people say “ (xíng)!” instead of “ (hǎo)!” for “All right.” Or “Okay.” Correspondingly, if they say ” 不行 (bùxíng)”, that means they are refusing your request (no go).

行不通 (xíngbùtōng) means going nowhere.

这样做是行不通的.
Zhèyàng zuò shì xíngbùtōng de.
This won’t do. (This won’t work.)

(xíng) also means being competent or capable.

他在音乐方面很行.
Tā zài yīnyuè fāngmiàn hěn xíng.
He is good at music.

When pronounced as (háng), this word means a row, or the seniority among siblings. It also means a trade or line of business. Please review the discussion posted on 12/7/11.

内行 (nèiháng) means being adept at a task or knowledgeable about a subject matter.

If your friends are chagrined that their offspring refuses to study to become a doctor or a lawyer, but instead chooses literature or art, you could comfort them with this Chinese saying:

三百六十行, 行行出状元.
Sān bǎi liù shí háng, háng háng chū zhuàngyuan.
One could achieve greatness in any one of the 360 (i.e. very many) trades.

状元 (zhuàngyuan) is one who earned the top grade in the highest imperial examination in old China. This term refers to the very best in any field. Who knows? Your friends’ son or daughter just might make it big as a writer or an artist.

Communication in Chinese

A couple weeks ago, while talking about “条条大路通罗马. (Tiáo tiáo dàlù tōng Luómǎ.)”, I left out the definition of (tōng) on purpose.

Deer Crossing

Deer Crossing

For one, I expected the serious students to look this word up themselves. Secondly, I wanted to devote an entire lesson to this versatile word later; and this seems a good time, while the saying is still fresh in your mind.

(tōng), featuring the “walk” radical, means unobstructed and permitting free flow of substances, vehicles, ideas and messages through a passageway or a channel. As many different things could move from one place to another, this character appears in a large number of words and expressions related to transportation, connections, communication, understanding, knowledge, logic or sharing and commonality.

交通 (jiāotōng) means traffic or communications. 通车 (tōngchē) means to be open to traffic. When traffic is unobstructed and flows smoothly, you might describe it as 通畅 (tōngchàng).

通道 (tōngdào) is a passageway. 穿越道 (chuānyuè dào) is a crossing.

通过 (tōngguò) can mean passing through, passing an inspection or test, or “by means of”.

通行 (tōngxíng) is a transit. 通行证 (tōngxíngzhèng) is a pass or a transit permit. As we shall see below, (tōng) also means generally applicable. Therefore, 通行 (tōngxíng) is also used to describe something that is current or prevalent.

通气 (tōngqì) means permitting air to pass through, or to ventilate. A ventilator is called 通风机 (tōngfēngjī). Here the (jī) is a machine, not a chicken.

When thoughts and ideas are transmitted from one person to another, we call it communication, or 沟通 (gōutōng communication, to communicate with). 通电话 (tōngdiànhuà) is to talk on the phone. 通信 (tōngxìn correspondence) is to communicate by letter. 通讯 (tōngxùn) means communication, correspondence or newsletters.

她只会泰语. 我们无法沟通.
Tā zhǐ huì tàiyǔ. Wǒmén wúfǎ gōutōng.
She only speaks Thai. We are unable to communicate with each other.

开通 (kāitong) means liberal or open-minded. Such people are less likely to be opposed to marriage between people of different ethnicities, religions, etc.. 通婚 (tōnghūn) is to intermarry.

通天 (tōngtiān) means reaching the sky, and therefore exceedingly high or great.

(tōng) also means common or generally applicable. 通用 (tōngyòng) means to be in common use, prevalent, general or interchangeable.

通告 (tōnggào) is a public notice or announcement. This word can also be used as a verb referring to the action of giving a public notice or distributing a circular.

开会的通告已经发出了.
Kāihuì de tōnggào yǐjīng fāchū le.
The notice for the meeting has already been issued.

通称 (tōngchēng) is a general term, or the name by which something is generally known.

通才 (tōngcái) refers to a versatile or multi-talented person. A Jack of all trades might be called 万事通 (wànshìtōng a know-all).

通通 (tōngtōng) means all, totally or completely. It is used in the same way as 统统 (tǒngtǒng).

我以前学的中文已经统统忘掉了.
Wǒ yǐqián xué de zhōngwén yǐjīng tǒngtǒng wàngdiào le.
I’ve already forgotten all the Chinese I have learned before. (Alas!)

通常 (tōngcháng) means generally, normally or usually.

他通常七点起床.
Tā tōngcháng qī diǎn qǐchuáng.
He usually gets up at seven o’clock.

普通 (pǔtōng) means common, ordinary or average. When someone asks you how you’ve been doing lately, and you have nothing exciting to share, you might respond with 还好 (háihǎo not bad), 普通 (pǔtōng so-so) or 马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhūhū so-so).

In China, Mandarin is referred to as 普通话 (pǔtōnghuà), or common speech of the Chinese language. In Taiwan, Mandarin is referred to as 国语 (guóyǔ), or national language.

You could have guessed that 不通 (bùtōng) means to be obstructed or impassable. Such blockage could also occur in one’s reasoning. Therefore, this word also means illogical or grammatically incorrect.

行不通. (xíngbùtōng) translates to “This won’t do.”

Now you’ll know that you have reached a dead end when you see the sign: 此路不通 (cǐlùbùtōng This road is blocked. No through traffic.)

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