It had taken months of therapy for the patient to share her innermost secret. "You were right to come here," the psychiatrist said as they shared the breakthrough, "and I long suspected that your problem was related to your father." The doctor then paused, pen frozen in mid-air above a black leather notebook. "Of course," she added at last, "at least your case isn't as bad as that of my last patient...."

Are you an intermediate mandarin student? Join us in this podcast for a Chinese lesson all about the shameful secrets that can break family relationships. In addition to a fast-moving and entertaining dialogue, this lesson also teaches the difference between two conjunctions with almost identical meanings, but slightly different emotional weights. Learn to use them correctly and you'll impress the hell out of your psychiatrist, we promise.
 said on
February 2, 2011
I sometimes get blank stares when using vocab I learn on this site and it might be due to differences in vocabulary used frequently in Beijing that differs from what they commonly use in south China Mandarin and often it might just be because I'm not really using the appropriate word for the situation. But it would seem that Yan3ji4 (to act) and yan3yuan2 (actor/actress) are pretty straightforward. Perhaps it wouldn't normally be used in the context I was using it--Yesterday a motorcycle plowed into the back end of my car and we were going through a tedious process of negotiation, taxing my poor Mandarin to the hilt until my English speaking FAO arrived. It was clearly the other guy's fault, but he and his friends were trying to get everything they could out of it. As I really didn't want my car impounded for the holidays (they take both vehicles) and the repair wouldn't have cost me more than about 800 RMB, I decided to take the advice of both my college leader (who didn't speak a word of English) who was helping, and the policeman on the scene, to let bygones be bygones and let it go, not declaring it. But they were being stubborn, wanting money (when they should pay me!) and I decided to call their bluff, telling them fine, let them take both our vehicles and go the police route--and even went to the extent of taking things out of my car and piling them on the sidewalk. Then I took this college leader aside and explained that I was just "acting". He looked at me blankly, so then I tried to explain by saying, you know, movies, actors, acting---I was just acting. He didn't understand my word for actor either. I'm pretty careful about tones and know I had them right, but he never got my meaning. Perhaps I should have said "zhuang1zhe" pretending? Didn't think of that then. But could you tell me what I should have said and perhaps why he didn't understand?

I used another word today that also got a blank stare--a middle aged friend and I were chatting about her husband who looks very dignified and learned, and I described him as 'wen2qi4' (from your "Cougar" lesson) and I know I got the tones right, because I had just reviewed it, but she didn't get it at all. I finally used the word "ru2ya3" refined and she understood that. But why would she not understand "wen2qi4"?

And a couple of days ago, I was trying to tell a friend that she was very resourceful, which is another of my "new words" (I think I got it from your site, but can't remember the lesson, so maybe not?)--"you3 ben3 ling3 nong4" and neither she nor the friend with her understood at all. I tried to find it on Nciku, but that wasn't the word they gave--in fact, I'm wondering now if there really is a good word for "resourceful" in Chinese--their model sentences didn't quite seem to fit the meaning?

All these words don't apply to this lesson, but easier to ask all at once!

 said on
February 2, 2011
@susanjallen,

You could say "Wo3 shi4 jia3zhuang1 de5" or "Wo3 zhe4me5 shuo1 shi4 jia3zhuang1 de5". (Jia3zhuang1 is more clear than zhuang1, although they both mean to pretend) . I guess the reason your college leader didn't understand you was because "yan3ji4" means "skill of acting" but not "to act". "Yan3xi4" is the word meaning to act. You could also say "Wo3 zai4 yan3xi4".

Hmmm.... I really have no idea why your friend didn't understand "wen2qi4". It's more commonly used than "ru2ya3". What was your whole sentence?

I have never heard of "you3 ben3 ling3 nong4" either. Maybe you wanted to say "you3 ben3ling3" or "you3 ben3shi5" meaning to have skills. In this situation, the word "li4hai5" is better. You could say "Ni3 zhen1 li4hai5, shen2me5 dou1 zhi1dao4" -- You are so resourceful, and you know everything.

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
February 2, 2011
Thank you, Echo, for responding, and at such a time! No wonder he was confused! I'll have to check that more closely--I collect vocab I currently want to learn and review in one document on my desktop and sometimes make mistakes when entering them. I hope I didn't give the impression that I was trying to say I had acting skill! Arrrrggg! I found out today that he's one of our college's top leaders! (The accident took place right outside our college gates.)

As to wen2qi4 I might have said "Ta1 you3 wen2qi4 de yangzi." Or "Ta hao3xiang4 wen2qi4." Actually, I could have perhaps used a structure in one of your recent lessons, "Ta1 kan4lai2 (seems like) hen3 wen2qi4." Don't remember exactly what I said. There are probably some mistakes there, as I usually end up messing things up one way or another!

As to "you3 ben3ling3", yes that is what confused me when trying to look it up and noticing the sample sentences given for other words supposedly meaning resourceful--it refers to skills, whereas the word resourceful is different--it's not really about mastering skills but about when, in situations you don't have exactly what you need, you have the imagination and creativity to use what's on hand to accomplish your purpose. For example, you can use scotch tape to repair a car, etc. I guess "li4hai5" is the closest one can come--doesn't seem to be an exact translation.

Thank you! Hope you enjoy today's festivities--just getting to go out myself!
 said on
May 9, 2011
Why does she say 你为什么不告诉我 and not 你为什么没告诉我?
 said on
May 9, 2011
@pefferie,

Because it is very colloquial here and the girl doesn't point out "why didn't you tell me BEFORE". She can say "你为什么不告诉我“ or ”你为什么以前没告诉我“.

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
June 15, 2012
Echo--

Are 而已 and 罢了used in the same way?
 said on
June 15, 2012
@etbaccata,

Mostly, yes (when they are used at the end of a sentence). However, 罢了 is also a verb meaning to be tolerable. As in 我不喜欢吃西餐,吃一次也罢了,天天吃受不了 (I don't like western food. Eating once is ok, but I can't eat them everyday).

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
July 13, 2012
@Echo

A similar question - what is the difference between 而且 and 况且? Definition in the dictionary seems to be exactly the same.
 said on
July 13, 2012
@jasper.obviar,

They are interchangeable when being used to further explain something. For example:

我今天有点儿累,而且/况且我也不喜欢跳舞,所以我就不去了。

However, 而且 has a special usage: it can be used to further talk about something or somebody together with 不但 or 不仅. In this case, you can only use 而且. For example:

你很聪明,而且也很努力,一定会成功的。

--Echo

echo@popupchinese.com
 said on
July 13, 2012
@Echo

I think I get it. In any case, we can say it is safer to use 而且 instead of 况且 in 99% of the sentences.

Thanks!

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