Learn Chinese

An Overview of the Chinese Language

Knowing how the Chinese language is different from English is the first step toward success in Mandarin Chinese! Once you have a basic understanding of these differences, then it becomes easy to focus on the essentials.

  • This language focuses on ideas rather than individual words.
  • Chinese characters are the way to express these ideas.
  • Others will only be able to understand your Chinese when you use tones that are a lot like singing.
  • Mandarin Chinese has four tones.
  • Once tones are mastered, PinYin will be the best way to master Chinese sounds.

The Essentials of Learning Chinese

To become fluent in Mandarin, being able to speak the four tones is crucial! (If you can’t speak them, no one will know what you’re saying)! Once tones become like second nature, you’ll be ready to move on to the “alphabet” of the Chinese language–which is PinYin.

So, in review, focus on

(Click on the links above for more detailed information on these topics). Of course, if you’re ready to learn Chinese fast, then download my free study guide by clicking on the study guide to the right.

Good luck on your journey!

What is Young in Chinese?

Two characters together convey the meaning of young in Chinese. These two characters are “nián qīng” said with the rising second tone and the level first tone. The first character is pronounced like “knee” + “en” as in enter, while the second tone is pronounced like “ch” + “ing.”

young in Chinese“Nián” literally means year, while “qīng” means light.

How to Say Old in Chinese

This is not the character to use when referring to the elderly. Please see “lao.”

The idea of being old and worn is depicted with the character “jiù” which is said with the falling fourth tone and pronounced a little like “geo.”

old, used in Chinese

Words that also use this character can be found here.

What’s New in Chinese?

Fresh, recent, up-to-date, and new are all words that are represented by the character “xīn.” “Xīn” is said with the level, first tone and pronounced like “sheen.”

new in Chinese

Other related terms can be seen here.

What’s Dark in Chinese?

“Àn” is said with the falling fourth tone, and pronounced like “on.”  (This is the Chinese character for dark).

dark in Chinese

To see other words that use this character, click here.

Bright in Chinese

The character for bright in Chinese (or even shiny) is “liàng.” This character is said with the falling fourth tone and pronounced “lee” + “ong.”

bright in Chinese

Other words that include this character can be found here…

What’s Weak in Chinese?

Weak in Chinese is represented by the character “ruò.” It is said with the falling fourth tone and pronounced like something between “roo” + “aw” and “raw.”

weak in Chinese

Related terms can be seen here.

Strong and Powerful

How do you express power and strength in Chinese?  Of course, there are many ways, but the character most often used is “qiáng.”  This character for strong (as it relates to strength, not taste or odor) is “qiáng,” said with the rising second tone and pronounced much like “chee” + “ong.”

strong in ChineseTo see other words that also use this character, continue reading here.

Hard in Chinese

As it relates to hard or stiff, the Chinese character “yìng” is used.  (This is NOT the term for difficult or challenging)!  Said with the falling fourth tone, as you say this term it should sound as though you are letting out a sigh of relief, but pronounced much like “ye” + “ing”.

hard in Chinese

For related terms, continue reading here.

Soft in Chinese

Soft in Chinese as referring to flexible or even gentle is depicted by the character “ruán.” This character is said with the rising second tone and pronounced much like “roo” + “on.” (Remember that the second tone should sound almost like you are asking a question where your voice rises at the end).

soft in Chinese

For other related terms, read more here