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20 <h2 id="learn-to-read-and-type-chinese">Learn to read and type Chinese</h2>
21 <p>2017-02-16 00:00</p>
22 <p>This lesson is meant to teach people the basics of Chinese. Below you will find an introduction and background to learning Chinese, how to type Chinese characters, tone rules, and a reading/comprehension lesson.</p>
23 <h3 id="getting-started">Getting started</h3>
24 <p>So you want to learn Chinese? Great! As I have no means of teaching you how to pronounce Chinese or Pinyin via this document, this book will only teach you how to read and type Chinese. I also recommend mastering Pinyin before you start these lessons. Pinyin is the romanized, pronunciation system that Chinese speakers use in dictionaries and it is also the same system they use to type Chinese characters. Once you master the pronunciation of Pinyin, you will be able to pronounce any words that you come across. This is because you can find the Pinyin (the pronunciation system for Chinese) in dictionaries.</p>
25 <p>Before we begin, I recommend <a href="/archive/2019/setting-up-a-chinese-input-method-on-debian.html">setting up a Chinese input method</a> for the operating system you are using. This way you can practice typing Chinese. It will also help you become more familiar with the characters. Although, it may not help you speak, write and listen, but at least you’ll be able to type and read, which is what I aim to teach you.</p>
26 <h3 id="a-few-things-i-want-you-to-remember">A few things I want you to remember</h3>
27 <ul>
28 <li>There is no “right” way or “professional” way to learn a language.</li>
29 <li>The more you study, practice (with a native speaker, friend or by yourself), and expose yourself to the language via reading, listening, watching, and even writing, the more you will excel at the language.</li>
30 <li>Listen to yourself when you speak. Examples: your accent, rhythm and nuances.</li>
31 <li>If you feel like you forgot everything because you haven’t studied in a while, get back at it and you will soon see that you didn’t forget everything.</li>
32 <li>Last, but certainly not least, you can do it! Don’t compare yourself with others!</li>
33 </ul>
34 <h3 id="a-few-more-details-on-chinese">A few more details on Chinese</h3>
35 <ul>
36 <li>There are no pronunciation inconsistencies when it comes to Pinyin.</li>
37 <li>Please do not rely on Pinyin when reading, just read the characters.</li>
38 <li>Only rely on Pinyin for pronunciation.</li>
39 <li>Everywhere in China has their own regional variety of the language which is often unintelligible to people who do not speak that variety. Because of this, the lingua franca, Mandarin, was created and about 2-3000 commonly used Chinese characters were simplified, leaving the rest of the characters untouched, in order to lower illiteracy rates and allow people to communicate more easily when travelling around.</li>
40 <li>There are about 60,000 characters in total, many of which are not used very often, but still preserved.</li>
41 <li>Sometimes people will speak Mandarin with an accent influenced by their variety</li>
42 <li>People from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan will use traditional characters while people from Mainland China and Singapore use simplified characters.</li>
43 <li>Although people in the Guangdong province speak Cantonese, they do not use traditional characters.</li>
44 <li>Being able to read both simplified and traditional characters will help you a lot.</li>
45 </ul>
46 <h3 id="how-to-type-chinese-characters">How to type Chinese characters</h3>
47 <p>If you type “wo”, the “我” character will appear above the words you are typing. You can choose this character by hitting the spacebar. You can also type whole sentences and, if all of the characters that appear on the screen are the ones you want, you can just hit spacebar and it will choose all of the characters in the sentence.</p>
48 <aside class="border">
49 <p>
50 <strong>Example</strong>: Typing “wobushita” may give you “我不是他”, which you can then choose by hitting space bar.
51 </p>
52 </aside>
53 <p>If you need to select individual characters in a sentence while typing, you can use numbers or arrow keys to choose which characters you want.</p>
54 <aside class="border">
55 <p>
56 <strong>Example</strong>: Typing “woxihuanheniunai” may give you “我喜欢喝牛奶”.
57 </p>
58 </aside>
59 <p>We can then see that all of the character options begin to showing up, and that “我” can be chosen by typing the number beside it. On mine, it’s 1, so I type “1” and it will select “我” for me. You can continue to select the characters you need in order to finish a sentence. Most input methods will learn by themselves which characters you will most often. This allows the input to become more convenient over time if you are using it often. Input methods in this manner are needed as the Chinese language has many words that sound the same.</p>
60 <p>If you want to type English in the middle of your sentence, you can type a word in English, while using a Chinese input method, and then hit the enter key, this will choose and keep the romanized letters you type.</p>
61 <h3 id="tone-rules">Tone Rules</h3>
62 <p>In Chinese there are a few rules that apply when two or more tones come before or after one another, as well as a couple of characters which have their own rules. In this guide I will be labelling tones with numbers rather than accents.</p>
63 <h4 id="common-representation-of-tones-with-accents">Common representation of tones with accents</h4>
64 <p>1st Tone: mā</p>
65 <p>2nd Tone: má</p>
66 <p>3rd Tone: mǎ</p>
67 <p>4th Tone: mà</p>
68 <p>5th/neutral Tone: ma</p>
69 <h4 id="my-representation-of-tones-for-this-guide">My representation of tones for this guide</h4>
70 <p>1st Tone: ma1</p>
71 <p>2nd Tone: ma2</p>
72 <p>3rd Tone: ma3</p>
73 <p>4th Tone: ma4</p>
74 <p>5th/Neutral Tone: ma</p>
75 <p>The reason I’ve chosen to represent the tones this way is because when you are clarifying which tone someone is saying in spoken Chinese, you will be able to recall which tones correlate to which number more easily.</p>
76 <aside class="border">
77 <p>
78 <strong>Note</strong>: The neutral tone can be heard when native speakers say the word “吗” (Question marker at the end of a sentence in Chinese), as an example, as well as many other words.
79 </p>
80 </aside>
81 <h4 id="where-you-should-write-the-tones">Where you should write the tones</h4>
82 <p>I am covering a bit on the tone accents above the characters before I start using my representation of the tones because there are some fundamentals that are standard, usually, when writing tones.</p>
83 <p>All of you have to remember is the order of the pinyin vowels: a o e i u ü.</p>
84 <p>These vowels will help you determine above which letter the tone will be placed.</p>
85 <aside class="border">
86 <p>
87 <strong>Example</strong>: The tones in“你好/nihao” would be written as “nǐhǎo”. This is because we look at which vowels in each Chinese character come first (two vowels in this case).
88 </p>
89 </aside>
90 <p>In “ni” the first, and only, vowel is “i” so the tone goes over the “i”, but in “hao” we have two vowels. Which one comes first in the sequence above? (“a” in this case, so the tone goes over the “a”.)</p>
91 <p>There is one exception that I can think of, though, and that is the “iu” combination. For this combination, the “u” gets the tone.</p>
92 <aside class="border">
93 <p>
94 <strong>Example</strong>: 就/jiù.
95 </p>
96 </aside>
97 <p>Don’t worry too much about where to write the tones above the pinyin. If you place the tone above the wrong letter, it won’t change the meaning of the word and native speakers will still understand you.</p>
98 <aside class="border">
99 <p>
100 <strong>Note</strong>: I wouldn’t recommend using 拼音/pin1yin1 to communicate with native speakers. Try to start using Chinese characters to communicate as soon as possible.
101 </p>
102 </aside>
103 <h4 id="connecting-tones">Connecting Tones</h4>
104 <p>When certain tones and certain characters are connected, tone changes may occur. Luckily for you, I’m going to make a list so you can see how they change below!</p>
105 <p><strong>Two 3rd tones:</strong></p>
106 <p>你好/ni3hao3 → ni2hao3</p>
107 <p>“Hello”</p>
108 <p><strong>Three 3rd tones:</strong></p>
109 <p>我很好/wo3hen3hao3 → wo3hen2hao3</p>
110 <p>“I’m well”</p>
111 <p><strong>Four 3rd tones (or more) together:</strong></p>
112 <p>我很想你/wo3hen3xiang3ni3 → wo2hen3xiang2ni3</p>
113 <p>“I really miss you”</p>
114 <p><strong>一/yi1 + 4th tone:</strong></p>
115 <p>一个/yi1ge4 → yi2ge4</p>
116 <p>“A”; “One” (Quantity, not the number one)</p>
117 <aside class="border">
118 <p>
119 <strong>Note</strong>: When saying a series of numbers or counting, the tone does not change on “一”, so use the first tone “一/yi1” (“一/yi1” means “one”).
120 </p>
121 </aside>
122 <p><strong>不/bu4 + 4th tone</strong>:</p>
123 <p>不是/bu4shi4 → bu2shi4</p>
124 <p>“Not”; “Is not”</p>
125 <p>This may seem overwhelming at first—it was for me—but don’t worry. Just remember that when two 3rd tones come together, the first one turns to a 2nd tone and when the “一” or “不” characters come before a character with a fourth tone, the “一” or “不” take the 2nd tone.</p>
126 <aside class="border">
127 <p>
128 <strong>Note</strong>: If any tone changes occur, I will remind you of them beside the original Pinyin in parentheses, located in the vocabulary section below. In future chapters I won’t provide them, so you can practice doing them on the fly.
129 </p>
130 </aside>
131 <h3 id="chapter-1">Chapter 1</h3>
132 <p>王文:夏倍,你好。</p>
133 <p>李夏蓓:王文,你好啊。你好吗?</p>
134 <p>王文:我很好,你呢?</p>
135 <p>李夏蓓:我也很好,谢谢。</p>
136 <p>王文:你是老师吗?</p>
137 <p>李夏蓓:我不是老师。我是学生。你呢?你是学生吗?</p>
138 <p>王文:我不是。我工作。</p>
139 <p>李夏蓓:真的吗?我也想工作!</p>
140 <p>王文:你应该好好学习。</p>
141 <p>李夏蓓:好的。那我好好学习。再见!</p>
142 <p>王文:拜拜!</p>
143 <h4 id="chapter-1-vocabulary">Chapter 1 vocabulary</h4>
144 <p><strong>王文/wang2wen2</strong> - A full name. The first character, “王” is a common surname. The second character is the first name. In Chinese the last name is said first when you say a full name, but it is uncommon to call someone by their name/full name. 王:King 文:Pattern</p>
145 <p><strong>李夏蓓/li3xia4bei4</strong> - A full name. The first character, “李” is a common surname. The second and third characters, “夏蓓” are the first name. 李:Plum 夏:Summer (夏天/xia4tian1) 蓓:Flower bud (蓓蕾/bei4lei3)</p>
146 <p><strong>你好/ni3hao3</strong> (<strong>ni2hao3</strong>) - “Hello” You can also use it to get someone’s attention on the street or in a restaurant. 你:You 好:Good/Very</p>
147 <aside class="border">
148 <p>
149 <strong>Note</strong>: Some learners will get this mixed up with “你好吗” which means “How are you?”, not “Hello”.
150 </p>
151 </aside>
152 <p><strong>啊/a1</strong> - This can be added on the end of sentences/utterances/responses to soften the tone of what is being said.</p>
153 <p><strong>吗/ma</strong> - This is a question particle that can be added to the end of things to turn a statement into a question.</p>
154 <aside class="border">
155 <p>
156 <strong>Example</strong>: 你好 (Hello) → 你好吗?(How are you?)
157 </p>
158 </aside>
159 <p><strong>很/hen3</strong> - “very” The “very” connotation can be omitted sometimes.</p>
160 <aside class="border">
161 <p>
162 <strong>Example</strong>: “我很好” can either mean “I’m very well” or “I’m well”. Don’t worry too much about this, you will understand through context.
163 </p>
164 </aside>
165 <p><strong>呢/ne</strong> - This is a particle that can be used at the end of sentences to inquire about something, so “你呢” in this case means “How about you?” or “and you?”.</p>
166 <p><strong>也/ye3</strong> - “too”; “also”</p>
167 <p><strong>谢谢/xie4xie</strong> - “Thank you”</p>
168 <p><strong>是/shi4</strong> - “To be”; “is” If you add “吗” after it, it means “Is that so?” (“是吗?”)</p>
169 <p><strong>老师/lao3shi1</strong> - “teacher” “老” means “old” “师” is a suffix for some professions.</p>
170 <aside class="border">
171 <p>
172 <strong>Example</strong>: “律师/lv4shi1” means “lawyer”.
173 </p>
174 </aside>
175 <p><strong>不/bu4</strong> - A negator.</p>
176 <aside class="border">
177 <p>
178 <strong>Example</strong>: “不是/bu4shi4” means “is not”, literally “not is”. Negators in Chinese come before the verb.
179 </p>
180 </aside>
181 <aside class="border">
182 <p>
183 <strong>Note</strong>: the tone changes from “不是/bu4shi4” to “bu2shi4”.
184 </p>
185 </aside>
186 <p><strong>学生/xue2sheng1</strong> - “student” “学” means “to learn” (“学习” means “to study”) “生” means “raw”; “to give birth” and many other things.</p>
187 <p><strong>工作/gong1zuo4</strong> - “to work”; “work” This word can be used as a verb or a noun.</p>
188 <p><strong>真的/zhen1de</strong> - “Really”; “Real” “Really”, in this case, is a statement, not an adjective.</p>
189 <aside class="border">
190 <p>
191 <strong>Example</strong>: A: “真的吗?”(“Really?”) B: “真的!”(“Really!”)
192 </p>
193 </aside>
194 <p><strong>想 or 想要/xiang3 or xiang3yao4</strong> - “to want”; “want to”; “wish to” Most of the time “想” and “想要” can be used interchangeably, but “想要” feels a little softer.</p>
195 <p><strong>应该/ying1gai1</strong> - “should”; “ought to” Sometimes you will see “该”. The difference is subtle, but, in general you can think of it as the same thing.</p>
196 <p><strong>好好学习/hao3hao3xue2xi2</strong> (<strong>hao2hao3xue2xi2</strong>) - “Study hard”; “Study well” This is a common phrase that people use. Sometimes they will say “好好学习天天向上”. A rough translation of this phrase would be “Study hard and improve every day”.</p>
197 <p><strong>好的/hao3de</strong> - “Okay”; “Alright”</p>
198 <p><strong>那/na4 or 那么/na4me</strong> - “Then...”; “Well then...”</p>
199 <p><strong>再见/zai4jian4</strong> - “Goodbye”; “Farewell” This is a stronger, more emotional goodbye that isn’t used as often as “拜拜”. It could indicate that you are leaving for a long time, but some people will still use it, although, “拜拜” is more common.</p>
200 <p><strong>拜拜/bai1bai1</strong> - “Bye bye”; “Goodbye” Sometimes, people will use “88” to say goodbye on the internet, because “拜拜/bai1bai1” sounds like “八八/ba1ba1 (eight eight)”.</p>
201 <aside class="border">
202 <p>
203 <strong>Note</strong>: There are a lot of number combinations that people use to express phrases.
204 </p>
205 <aside class="border">
206 <p>
207 <strong>Example</strong>: “520/五二零/wu3er4ling2” sounds like “我爱你 /wo3ai4ni3” (“I love you”).
208 </p>
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