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54 Responses to “CLO_004: I can speak a little Chinese”

  1. Nice article! This is similar to some lessons I bought, but I felt insecure in my pronounciation because I couldn’t see the words. Seeing the pronounciation guide was very helpful!

    By the way, WordPress? :) Two thumbs up for that.


  2. Anonymous

    Hi there, very cool teaching site.
    But is the second tone from “Duìbúqǐ” a falling or a rising one?
    Here it is a rising one, Adam says it’s a falling one.

  3. Very observant of you! Being in the middle (and usually said quite quickly) it’s hard to decipher. In usage it actually ends up being a neutral tone – I’ve edited the notes to reflect that. Thanks for pointing it out!

  4. CLO User

    In Lesson 4 the vocabulary initially shows hui4 as 回 meaning ‘return’ whereas it’s use in that lesson is as 会 meaning ‘to be able’.
    Also in the sentence ‘wo zhongwen shuode hen hao’ you say that only the last ‘de’ is used when it’s repeated. The ‘de’ that’s left out of wode is 的, whereas the ‘de’ you have shown in shuode is 得. This last ‘de’… do you mean 得 or 的 or are they both correct? I’m confused… and I signed up less than 30 mins ago!
    Also, when I click Control+ or Control++ (it’s not clear if you mean ‘Control’&’+’ or ‘Control’&’++’… anyway, neither works… nor does changing the font size using the browser View-TextSize (but the browser View-TextSize controls works on all other sites. The Chinese characters are too small for me to see well.
    Hope you can help.

    You site looks good – that’s why I signed up – but we’re off to a less than auspicious start.

  5. Hi Kevin,
    The 回 should be a 会. It’s been fixed now. 的 and 得 are pronounced the same but the latter is usually reserved for action verbs. On my browser (IE and Firefox), if you hold the Control key down and keep pressing the + key, the fonts increase in size. If you hold down Control and press the minus key, the size decreases each time you press it. If you’re using a different browser, please let me know and I’ll try and find a solution.


    Kevin, maybe you’re using a Mac? In that case, don’t use the control key. Try holding down the key which has the apple picture and the flowery symbol on it, while you hit either + or _

  7. CLO User

    This one of your students in Nanjing, having fun learning the language. As an English speaker, I find my toughest challenge is speaking at a “normal” rate of speed while still getting the tones correct. When I hear Chinese people speak normally, they almost sound as though they are “skipping” some tones, especially in the middle of a word… am I imagining this?

    I also have a question about a small item in Lesson 4, and depending on whether I am correct or not, a small suggestion. In Lesson 4, when discussing the use of the possessive particle “de,” you point out that when a sentence includes two or more pronouns in a row, you only use it in the last one. In the example given, “Ni Zhongwen shuo de hen hao,” it is translated literally as “You Chinese speak’s very good.” I only see one pronoun in this sentence, “you” at the beginning. Is the other one implied, as in “You Chinese you speak very good” or “You Chinese it speaks very good?” Forgive my literal look at this, but my mother was an English grammar teacher so you can only imagine what my home life was like!

    Anyway, if I am correct in thinking that the second pronoun is implied, for me at least, it would be helpful if that second pronoun were used in the translation… it would make it easier for me to understand the use of “de” with the last pronoun, even if the pronoun is implied and not actually spelled out in the sentence in Chinese.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying my CLO lessons!

  8. Hi Chris,

    As you get to later lessons, you will start to see the use of videos for most of the dialogues. The idea is that after thoroughly breaking down the lesson into the individual lines and mastering them, you should be able to hear what the conversation would sound like in normal speed in the context of where it might be used. Hopefully that will get you used to the quicker speed. The tones are still there but at this quicker rate, they are very slight so it takes a more experienced ear to hear them. I’m hoping that this course can provide you with that necessary experience by providing both slow and quick (normal) versions of all dialogues.

    In regards to your grammar question, the usage of only one de in that question is a style issue. It would be equally correct to say “Nide Zhongwen shuo de hen hao.” As for the de particle here, I’m not sure if any additional pronouns are being implied here. It is just connecting the “hen hao” with the “shuo.” Here is the breakdown.

    “Nide Zhongwen” = “Your Chinese”
    “Nide Zhongwen shuo de” = “Your Chinese speaking (is)” Here, the de particle suggests you are going to say something about the speaking.
    “Nide Zhongwen shuo de hen hao” = “You speak Chinese very well.”
    “Nide Zhongwen shuo de hen hao, keshi xie de bu hao” = “You speak Chinese very well, but (your) writing isn’t very good.”

    Hope that helps!

  9. Anonymous

    Ni hao Admin,

    i would just like to thankyou for these poscasts. it now means i can learn chinese where ever i am now. i have been looking for a website like this for a very long time.


    R. Spencer

  10. Anonymous

    Hi Adam et al,

    Thank you so much for the podcasts. I spent about a month learning to pronounce properly all the Mandarin sounds that are not present in English (namely the consonants represented by the pīnyīn sh, ch, zh, r, x, q, and j), but my vocabulary was extremely limited (and appeared to remain that way for some time) until I came upon this web site yesterday. Now I’ve listened to the first four podcasts and learned the vocabulary in them, and I must say “wow.” This course is so thoughtfully put together, and embedding the pīnyīn transliteration in the mp3 files makes it so easy to follow along with the lessons on my iPod.

    謝謝你們 (對馬?),

  11. 大家好!我是中国人,学韩语3年了,我正在寻找学中文的韩国朋友,我们可以互相交流
    안녕하세요! 나는 중국사람입니다. 한국말을 3년 동안 배워었어요. 중국어를 배우하고 있는 한국친구를 사귀고 싶어요

  12. Anonymous

    Ni hao,

    The previous post mentions Mandarin sounds that are not present in English, and I have noticed some of these in the podcasts. Do you know of anywhere that we can look/hear of the correct pronounciation of these consonants?



  13. Hi Becki,

    Others have also asked for us to create a chart of all the Pinyin sounds, so that is certainly something we could come up with at some point. For now, the best way to learn the sounds and the corresponding Pinyin (which is how I learned) is to follow along with the Pinyin transcripts while listening to new lessons. Once you have had enough exposure, you should be able to pronounce new words even before you hear them.

    Having different speakers in the lessons also gets you exposed to alternate ways to pronounce certain syllables allowing you to figure out the range of what are acceptable alternatives and what aren’t.

  14. There seems to be a problem with the Typing Test in this lesson. Some exercises require you to write the sentences in traditional characters or else it will be considered incorrect, even if you chose the “Simplified Script” option.

  15. Anonymous

    Hi There,

    This is the lesson where I stopped this morning, for the first time I would have hopped that the traffic jam had lasted a little longuer ;-) As a total newbie in chines I hope this will help me to get some basic knowledge, the content of your podcast gives me great hope.

    Thanx for the great work ;-)

  16. Anonymous

    There’s a discrepancy at the end of this lesson between what is spoken and what is written here. “Nǐ Zhōngwén shuōde hěn hǎo” is actually spoken as “Nǐde Zhōngwén etc.” and the same with “Wǒ Zhōngwén shuōde bù hǎo” which is spoken as “Wǒde Zhōngwén shuōde etc.” I’m assuming that the spoken version is the correct one, and the possessive particle -de is with both the pronoun and the verb?


    This site is fantastic!! It took me awhile to decide which way to go – but I’m definitely glad I chose CLO! Thank you!

    A question – I had a conversation with a native speaker here and he indicated that the verb shuō is very casual and in more formal situations I should use jiang. Wasn’t sure of the difference and wondered what exactly constituted a formal situation? (Is it like Fǎwén when we use the “vous”?)


  18. CLO User

    Hello CLO User,

    Sorry I didn’t see this comment for so long. There is no particular rule for using shuō and jiang – it depends on the region you are in. Here in Taiwan, we actually use jiang more often than shuō, but both are quite common. The best approach would be to ask native speakers around you what they use, then follow their system to be best understood.

    Good luck in your learning!

  19. Peter Chamberlin

    Nǐ hǎo Adam,
    I’m trying the flashcard tool and it looks pretty useful.
    Anyway, I’m not able to figure out how to write “Nǐ shì Jiānádàrén ma?” with numbered tone marks [Question 23 of 30 (from lesson 4)]. Why is “Ni3 shi4 Jia1na2da4ren2 ma?” wrong?
    Can you help me, please?
    Xièxie nǐ!

  20. Anonymous

    Why is “de” thrown into the middle of sentence after you introduce it? It’s the one part of the lesson I am having trouble with. I get that wo3de and ni3de are possessives of I and you but why do I see it near the end of sentences like “Duìbuqǐ, wǒ Zhōngwén shuō de bù hǎo.”

    • Adam (Admin)

      Great question. The “de” that is attached to the verb “shuo” is actually a different character than the first “de”. It is used to add an adverb.

      So for example if you say “Ta shuo” that means “He speaks” or “He is speaking”. If I say “Ta shuo de” – then the listener expects me to say something about how he’s speaking. So I could say “Ta shuo de bu hao” (he doesn’t speak very well).

      Does that help?

  21. justinwunda

    Hi Adam, really enjoying this so far, and once I digest this lesson I fully intend on paying for the full thing. One small note, on this lesson, the pinyin text for Bù switches back and forth with Bú, which is a little confusing. Still, of course I can figure out what it’s meant to say. Thanks for the great and detailed work!


  22. Anonymous

    謝謝! I have to say your lessons are excellent. I came across your podcast while looking for free Chinese lessons online because I’m going to China soon to work. I speak Japanese and I must admit the Chinese characters help me a lot get the meaning right, because linking a character to a sound that would otherwise make no sense to me help me register the sounds much quickly. I’m planning to register soon!

  23. alexandra_gosch

    Hello Adam,
    I went to the comment section because I had trouble understanding why it is “shuo1de” in the middle of the sentence expressing one’s chinese is not very good. I see many others have commented on it already. But I still find it a little cofusing. Since you usually break down everything syllable by syllable, I would find it helpfull if this were explained in the lesson too.
    Anyway, did I understand correctly that the “de” is needed after a verb, when the verb is followed by an adjective?
    So instead of, as in English, modifying the adjective if it describes the verb, to turn it into an adverb, in Chinese you modify the verb?
    So where in English you say:
    You are good.
    You speak Chinese WELL/fluentLY.
    In Chinese you say:
    Ni3 hen3 hao3.
    Ni3 Zhong1wen2 shuo1DE hen3 hao3.
    And if so, do you always need the DE when a verb is followed by an adjective?
    So would I say:
    Ni3 xing2de hen3 man4. (You walk very slowly.)
    Ni3 chi1(fan4)de bu4 hen3 an1jing4. (You don’t eat very quietly.)
    Or if not, could you explaing once more what the “de” does in the lesson’s sentence in grammatical terms?
    Thanks a lot,
    PS: I really like your lessons!

    • Adam (Admin)

      Hi Alex,

      Sorry for the delayed reply.

      Your examples are mostly correct.

      You are good: Ni3 hen3 hao3.
      You speak Chinese well/fluently: Ni3 Zhong1wen2 shuo1DE hen3 hao3. (Literally: Your Chinese speaks very well)
      You walk very slowly: Ni3 zou3de hen3 man4
      You eat noisily: Ni3 chi1de hen3 chao3

      I think you got it!

  24. julie_lund

    Hey! I am loving these courses! I only have one question, should I read the transcript in traditional characters or simple? What would, in the longer run be most sufficient and useful?

    • Adam (Admin)

      Hi Julie – great question. It comes down to who you will be communicating with in the future. Traditional characters are used mainly in Taiwan while simplified characters are used in China. If the people you are communicating with in the future are mainly from China, then I’d go with simplified. If it’s with people from Taiwan, then go with traditional.

      Let me know if that helps.

  25. maretha_mccarty

    Hi Adam

    Please check whether Lesson’s 4 typing test, second sentence is working correctly. I am sure I am typing in the correct answer, yet it tells me it is wrong.

    Also, it would be great to have an option to see the correct answer on the screen.

    Kind regards

    • Adam (Admin)

      Hi Maretha,

      This is what the answer should be for simplified: 你是中国人吗 and traditional: 你是中國人嗎

      Let me know if there’s an issue.

      I’ll look into just displaying the right answer if you get it wrong more than 3 times.

  26. maretha_mccarty

    I love learning Chinese through this wonderful platform of yours. Thank you for all the time and effort you have put into it, and all the truly helpful supporting material. I especially love your flashcard test, where I can test my skills to listen to the Chinese words or sentences, and then having to type it. Is it possible, though, to add a ”replay” option, so I can sometimes listen again before typing the answer? This will be especially helpful for the longer sentences.

    • maretha_mccarty

      My apologies, I see that there is indeed such a ”replay” option. My screen defaulted to only seeing the space to type, and I had to scroll up to see the ”’replay” option.

  27. Gumboking1

    Hi Adam,
    I noticed when using the flash cards, at the end, there is an option: Export to Pleco.
    I’ve been looking at what the Pleco Flash Card System can do. Very impressive.
    However, when I try to do an export, I get…Safari cannot open the page because the address is invalid.

    How can I make use of this robust flash card system?


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