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Chinese For Dummies, 3rd Edition

Wendy Abraham

ISBN: 978-1-119-47550-7 August 2018 400 Pages


The fun way to learn to speak Chinese

With more than 1.2 billion speakers across the globe — and with nearly 3 million in the U.S. alone — Mandarin Chinese claims the top spot as the world’s most common language. If you want to learn this language to get ahead at school or work, or to make your travel to China easier, this is the handy reference you’ll want by your side.

Chinese For Dummies teaches basic grammar, as well as the necessary vocabulary to make introductions and greetings, use proper etiquette, make small talk, make transportation arrangements, order food and beverages, ask directions, deal with money, shop, access recreation, and handle an emergency.

  • Concentrates on Mandarin Chinese and features new and revised content
  • Includes major updates to all the necessary foundational information needed to speak Chinese
  • Covers grammar, verb conjugations, and pronunciations
  • Offers a refreshed mini-dictionary complete with even more vocabulary
  • Find free conversational audio tracks online

As the Chinese economy continues to grow, the importance of Chinese as a trade language will also increase. If you’re a student or business professional who has a basic understanding of the language, you’ll be poised to surpass your peers when it comes to dealing with international markets. So get started today!

Introduction 1

About This Book 1

Foolish Assumptions 3

Icons Used in This Book 4

Beyond the Book 4

Where to Go from Here 5

Part 1: Getting Started with Chinese 7

Chapter 1: Chinese in a Nutshell: The Spoken Word 9

Grasping Chinese Dialects 10

Pīnyīn Spelling: Beijing, Not Peking 11

Sounding Off: Basic Chinese Sounds 12

Starting off with initials 13

Ending with finals 14

Perfect pitch: Presenting . . . the four tones! 15

Adding Idioms and Popular Expressions to Your Repertoire 17

Chapter 2: The Written Word: Checking Out Chinese Characters 21

Perusing Pictographs, Ideographs, and the Six Scripts 22

The Chinese Radical: A Few Clues to a Character’s Meaning 24

Following the Rules of Stroke Order 25

Rule 1 25

Rules 2 through 9 25

Up, Down, or Sideways? Deciphering the Direction of Characters 26

Traditional versus Simplified Characters: When to Use Which 28

Using a Chinese Dictionary . . . without an Alphabet! 29

Chapter 3: Warming Up with the Basics: Chinese Grammar 31

The Basics of Chinese Nouns, Articles, and Adjectives 32

Nouns 33

Definite versus indefinite articles 36

Adjectives 38

Getting into Verbs, Adverbs, Negation, and Possession 39

Verbs 39

Adverbs 44

Bù and méiyǒu: Total negation 44

Getting possessive with the particle de 47

Asking Questions 47

The question particle ma 47

Yes/no choice questions using bù between repeating verbs 47

Interrogative pronouns 48

Chapter 4: Getting Started with Basic Expressions: Nǐ Hǎo! 51

Making Introductions 52

Acquainting yourself 52

Introducing your friends and family 52

Asking people for their names 53

Greeting and Chatting 55

Addressing new friends and strangers 55

Conversing around the clock 56

Talking about the weather 59

Finding out where people are from 61

Taking (that is, rejecting) compliments 63

Saying goodbye 63

Chapter 5: Getting Your Numbers, Times, and Measurements Straight 65

Counting in Chinese 66

Numbers from 1 to 10 66

Numbers from 11 to 99 67

Numbers from 100 to 9,999 68

Numbers from 10,000 to 100,000 and beyond 69

How ’bout those halves? 69

Ordinal numbers 70

Asking how many or how much 70

Telling Time 71

Asking and stating the time 71

Specifying the time of the day 71

Save the Date: Using the Calendar and Stating Dates 75

Dealing with days of the week 76

Naming the months 77

Specifying dates 77

Celebrating Chinese holidays 80

Sizing Up Weights and Measures 81

Chapter 6: Speaking Chinese at Home 85

Hanging Out at Home 85

Hunting for an Apartment 86

Decorating Your New Digs 89

Appointing Your Rooms, Fēngshuǐ Style 89

The bedroom 91

The bathroom 92

The kitchen 92

The living room 93

The basement 94

The attic 95

Part 2: Chinese in Action 97

Chapter 7: Getting to Know You: Making Small Talk 99

Establishing a Connection 99

Posing simple introductory questions 102

Chatting about family 103

Making small talk on the job 105

Talking about where you live 108

Chapter 8: Dining Out and Shopping for Food 111

All about Meals 112

Satisfying your hunger 112

Sitting down to eat and practicing proper table manners 114

Getting to Know Chinese Cuisines 115

Dining Out 116

Understanding what’s on the menu 118

Placing an order and chatting with the waitstaff 125

Dipping into some dim sum 127

Finding the restrooms 128

Finishing your meal and paying the bill 129

All the Tea in China 130

Taking Your Chinese to Go 131

Making comparisons 131

How much is that thousand-year-old egg? 132

Chapter 9: Shopping Made Easy 137

Going to Stores 137

Getting What You Want at a Department Store 140

Just browsing 141

Asking for help 141

Shopping for Clothes 143

What’s your size? 143

Comparing quality: Good, better, best 145

Comparing two items 146

What are you wearing? Chuān versus dài 149

Asking about the color and material 150

Shopping for Other Items 151

Hunting for antiques 152

Getting a Good Price and Paying 153

Negotiating prices at the night market 153

Paying for your purchase (or demanding a refund) 154

Chapter 10: Exploring the Town 157

Attending a Performance 157

Exploring different types of music 158

Buying a ticket 160

Asking whether someone has done something 160

Exploring Museums and Galleries 161

Visiting Historical Sites 163

Going to the Movies 165

Hopping Around Bars and Clubs 167

Chapter 11: Taking Care of Telecommunications 169

Getting Familiar with Telephone Terms 169

Going Mobile with a Cellphone 171

Making a Phone Call 172

Calling your friends 173

Ringing hotels and places of business 174

Phoning a client 175

Sorry, I Can’t Take Your Call Right Now 177

Listening to messages that people leave you 177

Recording and understanding greeting messages 177

Leaving messages 178

Checking Your Email 180

Going Online 182

The Great Wall Firewall, That Is 183

Chapter 12: Chinese at School and Work 187

Going to School 188

Schools and supplies 188

Teachers and subjects 189

Exams and semesters 190

Degrees and diplomas 191

Settling into Your Office Digs 192

Conducting a Meeting 195

Scheduling and planning a meeting 195

Making the initial greeting 196

Starting the meeting 198

Making a presentation 198

Ending the meeting 199

Discussing Business and Industry 201

Chapter 13: Recreation and Outdoor Activities 207

Naming Your Hobbies 208

Exploring Nature 210

Tapping into Your Artistic Side 213

Striking Up the Band 213

Playing on a Team 215

Part 3: Chinese on the Go 219

Chapter 14: Planning a Trip 221

Talking about When You Want to Travel 221

Celebrating the Chinese Holidays 222

Where To? Deciding on a Destination 223

Passports and Visas: Don’t Leave Home without ’Em 227

Packing for Your Trip 228

Enlisting the Help of a Travel Agency 229

Chapter 15: Making Cents of Money 233

Staying Current with Chinese Currency 234

Rénmínbì (RMB) in the PRC 234

Xīn Táibì in the ROC 235

Hong Kong dollars 236

Singapore dollars 236

Exchanging Money 236

Spending Money 239

Using cash 240

Paying with plastic 241

Doing Your Banking 242

Making withdrawals and deposits 243

Accessing an ATM 244

Tips on Tipping 244

Chapter 16: Getting Around 249

Flying Around the Airport 249

Making it past the check-in counter 250

Boarding your flight 253

Going through customs 254

Navigating Around Town 257

Hailing a cab 257

Hopping on the bus 260

Riding the rails 262

Chapter 17: Asking for Directions 267

Avoiding 20 Questions: Just Ask “Where?” 267

Different strokes for different folks: Saying nǎr versus saying nǎlǐ 269

Getting direction about directions 270

Understanding the answers to “where” questions 271

Expressing Distances (Time and Space) with Lí 274

Using Ordinal Numbers to Clarify Points of Reference 276

Specifying Cardinal Points 276

Chapter 18: Finding a Place to Stay 281

Making a Room Reservation 282

Checking In Before You Hit the Pool 285

Taking Advantage of Hotel Service 287

Counting on convenience 287

Getting problems fixed 288

Checking Out Before Heading Out 292

Chapter 19: Handling Emergencies 297

Calling for Help in Times of Need 297

Receiving Medical Care 298

Deciding whether to see a doctor 299

Describing what ails you 300

Discussing your medical history 305

Making a diagnosis 306

Treating yourself to better health 308

Calling the Police 308

Acquiring Legal Help 309

Part 4: The Part of Tens 311

Chapter 20: Ten Ways to Learn Chinese Quickly 313

Listen to Chinese Being Spoken 313

Check Out a Peking Opera Performance 314

Cook with a Wok 314

Shop for Food in Chinatown 314

Search Online 315

Watch Kung-Fu Flicks 315

Exchange Language Lessons 315

Make Chinese Friends 316

Study Chinese Calligraphy 316

Be Curious and Creative 316

Chapter 21: Ten Things Never to Do in China 317

Never Accept a Compliment Graciously 317

Never Make Someone Lose Face 318

Never Get Angry in Public 318

Never Address People by Their First Names First 318

Never Take Food with the Wrong End of Your Chopsticks 319

Never Drink Alcohol Without First Offering a Toast 319

Never Let Someone Else Pay the Bill Without Fighting for It 319

Never Show Up Empty-Handed 320

Never Accept Food, Drinks, or Gifts Without First Refusing a Few Times 320

Never Take the First “No, Thank You” Literally 320

Part 5: Appendixes 321

Appendix A: Chinese-English Mini-Dictionary 323

Appendix B: Chinese Verbs 355

Appendix C: Fun & Games Answer Key 359

Index 365