Learning Mandarin: "And" doesn't work the same as in English

Small cute dog

Mandarin tends to be more terse than English. Often it's really right to the point. One area where it differs from English, is how we use the word "and".

The word that translates closest to "and" is:

(hé) – It's pronounced closer to "her" in English.

In some cases, it works exactly like in English:

她和我会去超市。(Tā hé wǒ huì qù chāoshì.) – is literally "she and I will go supermarket" – so the meaning is easy to guess.

In that sentence, the two words that make up the subject are joined. This works for both nouns and pronouns. So you can do the same for objects of sentences:

她给了我一把锤子和一些钉子。(Tā gěile wǒ yī bǎ chuízi hé yīxiē dīngzi.) – is literally "she gave me a hammer and some nails".

Mandarin can also have commas in lists like we do:

她给了我一把锤子,凿子和一些钉子。(Tā gěile wǒ yī bǎ chuízi, záozi hé yīxiē dīngzi.) – is literally "she gave me a hammer, a chisel and some nails".

So far very similar. But where the languages differ a lot is with conjunctions. In English, we might say "I left and never went back". We use "and" for this. In Mandarin, this is:

我离开了,再也没有回去。(Wǒ líkāile, zài yě méiyǒu huíqù.) – literally "I left, again also not have return go".

The same applies when combining multiple adjectives. In English, we'd say "My dog is small and very cute". In Mandarin, this is:

我的狗很小,很可爱。(Wǒ de gǒu hěn xiǎo, hěn kě'ài.) – literally "My dog very small, very cute".

Learning Mandarin

I'll write more soon on the best methods for learning Mandarin. If you want to get a taste for it in the meantime though, my current favorite site is iTalki, and my favorite teacher by far is Amy He. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.

 

 

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