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Alot
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Chinese 中文 Thread
PostPosted: Sat 14 Apr, 2018  Reply with quote

Hi everyone, 大家好 (dàjiā hǎo)! I've been thinking of starting a Chinese thread for Mandarin, similar to the Swedish Lessons thread, so here it is! Questions, corrections and other contributions are all welcome thumbs

I was inspired to start a Chinese thread after watching a Ted Talk video about learning to read Chinese. However, I prefer to start with phonetics, so I'll do so. Radicals would be a good topic to have too later on.

Contents
Vocabulary




Last edited by Alot on Sun 27 May, 2018; edited 3 times in total
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Chinese phonetics - 注音 (zhùyīn) and 拼音 (pīnyīn)
PostPosted: Sat 14 Apr, 2018  Reply with quote

Chinese phonetics - 注音 (zhùyīn) and 拼音 (pīnyīn)

As you may know, Chinese uses a character-based writing system, and thus may seem to have no apparent alphabet. However, Chinese has something similar to Japanese hiragana, called 注音 (zhùyīn), literally "phonetic", or "note"+"sound", which is a set of symbols representing phonetics. There is also a corresponding westernized equivalent called 拼音 (pīnyīn), literally "alphabetic", or "spell"+"sound". The bolded letters, "pīnyīn" is already an example of how pīnyīn is used and looks like .

Note however that these are only used as pronunciation guides, and are never used to replace formal characters in writing. As such, there is generally no need to learn zhùyīn, since pīnyīn was created as a one-is-to-one replacement for zhùyīn to make it easier for westerners to learn Mandarin. Most online sites, including Google translate also use pīnyīn to show the pronunciation.

The Chinese "alphabet" has 21 consonants (initials) and 16 vowels (finals). There are also 4(+1) tones, which will be discussed later.

Below are the 注音 zhùyīn symbols with their corresponding 拼音 pīnyīn equivalents.

Consonants or Initials

Except for ㄐㄑㄒ (which are pronounced with a long "ee" sound), all other consonants are pronounced by themselves with a very short "uh" sound, as if just sounding out the consonant sound in English.

Note also that there are many pairs of unaspirated and aspirated consonants. When pronouncing unaspirated consonants, you should feel no air coming from your mouth if you hold your palm in front of it, while the opposite is true for aspirated consonants. Chinese actually has no "b", "d" and "g" sounds, however these letters are used in pīnyīn to represent the unaspirated "p", "t" and "k" sounds respectively.

Finally, there are three sets of consonants with similar initial sounds: ㄐㄑㄒ, pronounced with an "ee" sound; ㄓㄔㄕ, pronounced with an "h" consonant cluster; and ㄗㄘㄙ, with the plain consonant sounds.

ㄅ = b (unaspirated "p" sound)
ㄆ = p (aspirated "p" sound)
ㄇ = m
ㄈ = f

ㄉ = d (unaspirated "t" sound)
ㄊ = t (aspirated "t" sound)
ㄋ = n
ㄌ = l

ㄍ = g (unaspirated "k" sound)
ㄎ = k (aspirated "k" sound)
ㄏ = h

ㄐ = j (unaspirated "tsee" sound, similar to a "dzee" sound)
ㄑ = q (aspirated "tsee" sound)
ㄒ = x ("see" sound, but with more air)

ㄓ = zh (unaspirated "ch" sound, similar to a "dzh" sound)
ㄔ = ch (aspirated "ch" sound)
ㄕ = sh ("sh" sound, but with more air)
ㄖ = r

ㄗ = z (unaspirated "ts" sound, similar to a "dz" sound)
ㄘ = c (aspirated "ts" sound)
ㄙ = s ("s" sound, but with more air)

Vowels or Finals

As with the consonants, there are also three sets of vowels with similar vowel sounds: ㄚㄜ, which are the plain vowel sounds; ㄢㄣ, pronounced with a final "n" sound; and ㄤㄥ, prnounced with a final "ng" sound.

ㄚ = a (short "a" sound as in "far")
ㄛ = o (short "o" sound, as in somewhat in between "awe" and "oh"; lips are more rounded)
ㄜ = e (short "uh" sound; always used alone or directly after a consonant phonetic)
ㄝ = (i)e (short "e" sound as in "bed"; there is no confusion with ㄜ because ㄝ always comes after the ㄧ (yi) phonetic, to form the "ie" combination when spelled out in pīnyīn)

ㄞ = ai (long "i" sound as in "hi")
ㄟ = ei (long "a" sound as in "hay")
ㄠ = ao ("ow" sound as in "how")
ㄡ = ou (long "o" sound as in "hoe")

ㄢ = an (short "an" sound as in "can")
ㄣ = en (short "un" sound as in "fun)
ㄤ = ang (short "ang" sound as in "hang")
ㄥ = eng (short "ung" sound as in "hung")

ㄦ = er (short "er" sound as in "her")
ㄧ = yi (long "ee" sound as in "see"; the "y" is not sounded if pronounced alone or following a consonant; when spelled in pīnyīn following a consonant, the "y" is dropped.)
ㄨ = wu (long "oo" sound as in "soon"; the "w" is not sounded when pronounced alone or following a consonant; when spelled in pīnyīn following a consonant, the "w" is dropped.)
ㄩ = yü ("yuee" sound, similar to the ㄧ(yi) phonetic, but the "y" is sounded, and lips are more rounded; when spelled in pīnyīn following a consonant, the "y" is dropped.)


Tones

Chinese has four tones, plus a fifth neutral tone, which is usually used for sentence-final particles like 嗎 Simplified: 吗(ma), 吧 (ba) and 呢 (ne), or repeated characters like 爸爸 (bàba) or 媽媽 Simplified: 妈妈 (māma) Since it's a neutral tone, there is no tonal mark used in pīnyīn. However, in zhùyīn, the fifth tone is represented by a dot above the consonant.

  1. 第一聲 Simplified: 第一声 (dì yī shēng) First tone: This is pronounced like a monotone sound. No tonal mark is used for zhùyīn, while a horizontal line is used in pīnyīn, such as in 巴 (bā).
  2. 第二聲 Simplified: 第二声 (dì èr shēng) Second tone: This is pronounced with a short upward inflection, somewhat like when asking "huh?" The tonal symbol for both for zhùyīn and pīnyīn is an upward flick, such as in 拔 (bá).
  3. 第三聲 Simplified: 第三声 (dì sān shēng) Third tone: This is pronounced with a deep and gentle downward dip followed by a very subtle upward inflection, which is often dropped. The tonal symbol for both zhùyīn and pīnyīn is a checkmark, such as in 把 (bǎ).
  4. 第四聲 Simplified: 第四声 (dì sì shēng) Fourth tone: This is pronounced with a quicker downward tone, as if angry. The tonal symbol for both zhùyīn and pīnyīn is a downward mark, such as in 爸 (bà).

Tones are often practiced by repeating the same syllable in each of the four tones : bā bá bǎ bà. pā pá pǎ pà. mā má mǎ mà. fā fá fǎ fà.

Chinese syllables:
  • Each Chinese character is composed of exactly one syllable.
  • Some words are composed of two or more characters, and in pīnyīn, all syllables of the word are written together with no space. There is no confusion where each syllable begins and ends because of the specific combinations of phonetics allowed.
  • Each syllable is composed of 0 or 1 consonant followed by 0-2 vowels, with at least one zhùyīn. The corresponding pīnyīn is always spelled with at least one English vowel.
  • Zhùyīn is written vertically with the consonant on top and the vowel/s at the bottom, usually on the right of the character it represents. Pīnyīn is written from left to right, usually below or next to the character.
  • Each syllable has a tone. In zhùyīn, the tone symbol is always written at the upper right of the last vowel of the syllable, or above the consonant if there are no vowels. For pīnyīn, the tone symbol is written above the first English vowel of the last phonetic part of the syllable (For example, in the syllable ㄐㄧㄠ(jiāo), the tonal symbol is written above the "a", which is the first English vowel of the last phonetic sound ㄠ(ao).


Phonetic combinations:
For a full list of phonetic combinations, along with the pronunciations in different tones, here is a source at echineselearning.com.
  • Most of the consonants must be paired with at least one vowel to form the phonetics of an actual word. Only the last 7 consonants can stand alone in a syllable. When spelled alone in pīnyīn, the letter "i" is added to the end of the syllable: ㄓ(zhi) jㄔ(chi) ㄕ(shi) ㄖ(ri) ㄗ(zi) ㄘ(ci) ㄙ(si), and the tonal mark is above the "i". The pronunciation remains the same with the super short "uh" sound. There is no confusion since these consonants never appear before the ㄧ(yi) phonetic.
  • ㄐ(j) ㄑ(q) ㄒ(x), the only consonants pronounced with a long "ee" sound, can only be used directly before the ㄧ(yi) or ㄩ (yü) phonetics
  • All vowels can stand alone, except for ㄝ and ㄟ.
  • Vowels may also come in pairs, but only ㄧ(yi) ㄨ(wu) ㄩ(yü) can be the first in a two-vowel combination. When this happens, the pronunciation may change accordingly. For example, the syllable ㄅㄧㄢ(b + yi + an = bian) is pronounced with a short "ie" sound, like in the Spanish "bien", but quicker as one syllable. On the other hand, the syllable ㄅㄧㄣ(b + yi + en = bin) is pronounced with a short "i" as "pin".

Special rules in pīnyīn for vowel combinations: (These are only rules for spelling, but pronunciation is not affected.)
  • In the above example, the pīnyīn of ㄅㄧㄣ is spelled as "bin" instead of "bien". This is a special rule for the combinations ㄧㄣ(yi + en = yin) and ㄧㄥ(yi + eng = ying). In this case, the final "e" is dropped, and the "i" remains.
  • A similar rule applies with the ㄨㄣ combination, unless there is no consonant in the syllable. That is, ㄨㄣ(wu + en = wen), but ㄉㄨㄣ(du + en = dun). The ㄨㄥ(wu + eng = weng) combination is never found after a consonant.
  • When the syllable has no consonant and ㄧ(yi) or ㄨ(wu) are combined with another vowel (with the exceptions of ㄧㄣ, ㄧㄥ, and consonant+ㄨㄣ special cases above), the "i" or "u" is dropped. For example, ㄧㄢ (yi + an = yan), and ㄨㄛ(wu + o = wo).
  • For vowel combinations ㄧㄡ (yi + ou = you) and ㄨㄟ (wu + ei = wei) when followed by a consonant, the first letter of the last phonetic is dropped instead. For example, ㄉㄧㄡ (d + yi + ou = diu) and ㄉㄨㄟ (d + wu + ei = dui).
  • When not preceded by a consonant, or when ㄩ(yü) comes after ㄐ(j) ㄑ(q) or ㄒ(x), the dots above the "ü" are dropped. This is because ㄜ(u) and ㄨ(wu) can never come after ㄧ(yi), ㄐ(j) ㄑ(q) or ㄒ(x), so there will be no confusion.

So I think I've covered most of it. If I missed anything, or if you have better examples or questions, feel free to add or ask!

Additional references:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bopomofo
https://translate.google.com.ph/m/translate
https://www.chineseclass101.com/chinese-pronunciation  /

Change log:
  • Corrected and added some notes for the pronunciation of the last three vowels ㄧㄨㄩ, and corrected all the misspellings of "pronounciation"
  • Added pīnyīn rule for ㄧㄡ and ㄨㄟ combinations when follwed by a consonant in the syllable, and added change log.




Last edited by Alot on Sat 21 Apr, 2018; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Sat 14 Apr, 2018  Reply with quote

I didn't know that Chinese had a phonetic alphabet! Thank you for the info!


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PostPosted: Mon 16 Apr, 2018  Reply with quote

In in! I just started learning Chinese recently. I've seen this phonetic, I want to learn it - but I think I'll go with pinyin because my textbook uses it. I've been a bit slow in my lessons lately because I'm working a 50 hour week & riding my bike 45 minutes each way - so I'm taaaard. But I'm keeping up with it in small steps.

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PostPosted: Wed 18 Apr, 2018  Reply with quote

Siiw wrote:
I didn't know that Chinese had a phonetic alphabet! Thank you for the info!

You're welcome smile I figured most people wouldn't know, but I thought it would be useful to see where the romanization comes from, so that's why I chose this for the first lesson.

J-Tor wrote:
In in! I just started learning Chinese recently. I've seen this phonetic, I want to learn it - but I think I'll go with pinyin because my textbook uses it. I've been a bit slow in my lessons lately because I'm working a 50 hour week & riding my bike 45 minutes each way - so I'm taaaard. But I'm keeping up with it in small steps.

Welcome! I do plan to stick with pīnyīn in this thread, since it's more commonly used now and easier to type. However just make sure to read it in the Chinese way and not the English way wink5 I sometimes convert the pīnyīn back to zhùyīn in my head to avoid doing that, especially for the "zh", "z" and "c" sounds. And also the "-i" after stand-alone consonants.


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Traditional 繁體 (fántǐ) and Simplifed 简体 (jiǎntǐ)
PostPosted: Sun 22 Apr, 2018  Reply with quote

Traditional 繁體 (fántǐ) and Simplifed 简体 (jiǎntǐ) Chinese characters

As you may have noticed in the previous lesson, some of the characters have the comment "Simplified:" next to them, with a different, but somewhat similar character. This is because Chinese has two writing systems, namely 繁體 (fántǐ), literally "complicated form", or Traditional, and 简体 (jiǎntǐ), literally "simplified form", or simply Simplified.
And yes, "體" (tǐ) and "体" (tǐ) are exactly the same word, but written in the two different forms.

The two terms are pretty much self-explanatory wink

Some background on written Chinese:
In the olden days, there was only the Traditional form. An interesting thing about written Chinese is that despite the different variations or dialects, they are written the same. Thus people from different regions could understand each other through writing, despite the characters being pronounced completely differently in each variation (all phonetics in this thread are for Mandarin, unless otherwise specified).

At some point, Simplified Chinese was developed in an attempt to improve literacy, basically simplifying the strokes of more complex characters, and sometimes merging two similar characters into one, so that fewer characters would have to be learned. Simplified, then, looks less intimidating, especially to new learners. As an effect, it becomes easier to write and to read, especially when typed with smaller fonts.

However, this simplification also comes with a downside, the main one is that the meaning of the word is sometimes lost.

Loss of meaning
For example, let's take the Chinese word meaning "love":
Traditional form: 愛 (ài)
Simplified form: 爱 (ài)

The traditional form contains the word 心 (xīn), which means "heart". This is completely lost in the Simplified form. I have no idea why they designed it this way. Apparently 心 is more difficult to write when part of a more complex character?

The Epoch Times gives some more examples of loss of meaning.

Patterns
Anyway a good thing is that a lot of the simplifications are done in logical patterns. For example, the character 說 (shuō) meaning "to say" is simplified to 说. Whenever you see the root 言 (yán), or "word", in a traditional character, it will always be simplified in the same way (though interestingly enough, "言" itself is still retained as "言"). In the Simplified version, the 口 (kǒu) or "mouth" is gone. However if you're familiar with this pattern, you would be able to associate it for other words.

Some examples:

Traditional form: 說話 (shuōhuà), meaning "to speak"
Simplified form: 说话 (shuōhuà), meaning "to speak"

Traditional form: 請 (qǐng), saying "please"
Simplified form: 请 (qǐng), saying "please"

Traditional form: 謝謝 (xièxie), meaning "thanks"
Simplified form: 谢谢 (xièxie), meaning "thanks"


Accessibility

Personally I prefer Traditional Chinese, because that was what I learned. My first reaction to Simplfied Chinese was disappointment, and somewhat disgust, feeling that it was not "real" Chinese. However, I recognize its growing use and plan to include the Simplified version for all lessons, so it won't be necessary to learn both, and you can stick with the form you prefer or are already learning.

While I didn't explicitly learn Simplified Chinese, many of the characters are the same, or similar enough to Traditional form to decipher easily. For those completely different characters, it's easy enough to become familiar with them through exposure, especially if they are common words. (And if they're not, then they won't come up much ).

Simplified Chinese seems to be more common these days, especially online. Some of my classmates who are native Chinese speakers (and learned Traditional form) use Simplified form to type, probably because it's the default setting on their phones. The Duolingo Chinese course also uses Simplified form, but still accepts Traditional Chinese characters if you choose to use that when typing out answers.

[Poll]So which form are you learning / which would you like to learn?[/Poll]

Additional resources (Which form to learn?)


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Chinese input methods: Typing Chinese characters
PostPosted: Sun 22 Apr, 2018  Reply with quote

Chinese input methods: Typing Chinese characters

There are many different ways to type Chinese characters! You can type using phonetics, stroke order, roots, or even by manually writing the character on your screen. Having different input methods is useful for when you have only partial familiarity with the character you wish to type.

Below are some of the common input methods, available for both Simplified and Traditional Chinese.

  1. Zhùyīn or Pīnyīn Input Methods

    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


  2. 筆劃 Simplified: 笔划 (Bǐhuà), or "Stroke" Input Method

    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


  3. 倉頡 Simplified: 仓颉 (Cāngjié) Input Method (pronounced like "tsang dzie")

    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


  4. Chinese Handwriting / Mousewriting Input Method

    Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Personally, I find the Pīnyīn keyboard the easiest to use, and just switch to handwriting if I don't know how the word is pronounced, or if I want to practice writing out the character. Choose the one, or ones, which would work best for you wink

Change log:
  • Added note on letter "v" under the pinyin input method.




Last edited by Alot on Sun 27 May, 2018; edited 1 time in total
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Personal Pronouns
PostPosted: Mon 30 Apr, 2018  Reply with quote

Chinese is relatively easy in terms of grammar and sentence construction. There are no cases, no conjugation, no plural forms, no verb tenses, no articles. There is just the basic Subject - Verb - Object. Once you build your vocabulary, it will be pretty straightforward to form sentences. So let's start with personal pronouns, since these will be used in most basic sentences.

Personal pronouns

Chinese pronouns are very simple, with no grammatical cases. Let's start with singular pronouns.

Singular pronouns
  • 我 (wǒ) I/me
  • 你 (nǐ) you (singular, informal)
  • 您 (nín) you (singular, polite)
  • 他 (tā) he/him, or general third person
  • 她 (tā) she/her
  • 它 (tā) it
All of these are written the same in Traditional and Simplified form. Note that there are two words for "you", which is also common in other languages. 你 (nǐ) is the informal form, while 您 (nín) is the polite form, used for example with elders.

For third person pronouns, there is no gender distinction in spoken Chinese, as all variations are pronounced exactly the same (tā). There are also other less common variations in writing:
  • 牠 (tā) it (exclusively for animals); Traditional Chinese only. Simplified form is also 它 (tā)
  • 祂 (tā) third person pronoun for deities

Plural pronouns

Click the spoiler below for the lesson in Traditional Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Click the spoiler below for the lesson in Simplified Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Possessive pronouns

Again, it's easy to form possessive pronouns! Just add the possessive particle, 的 (de):

Click the spoiler below for the lesson in Traditional Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Click the spoiler below for the lesson in Simplified Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Examples

Now try to read and translate the following sentences:

Click the spoiler below for Traditional Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Click the spoiler below for Simplified Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


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My family - 我的家庭 (Wǒ de jiātíng)
PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2018  Reply with quote

My family - 我的家庭 (Wǒ de jiātíng)

In this lesson, let's learn to introduce our (immediate) family. First, let's learn the word for house/home/family, which is the same in both Traditional and Simplified Chinese:

家 (jiā) ~you may recognize it from the phrase 大家 (dàjiā), literally "big" + "house", or "everyone"

For brief overview of the character, it is composed of a roof symbol 宀 housing the character for pig 豕 🐖. This is from ancient times when people used to live under the same roof with livestock.
Why the character for 'family' has a pig inside a house

Now without further ado, let's introduce our family!

Here's a sample introduction for a family of five:

Click the spoiler below for the lesson in Traditional Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Click the spoiler below for the lesson in Simplified Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Note that Chinese uses a measure word 個 Simplified: 个 (gè) to indicate the number of people. For now, just remember to always add this when talking about how many people there are.

Note also that when refering to your siblings, birth order is important. Older siblings are given a distinction versus younger siblings. In Chinese, you don't call your older siblings by their name, but by their titles, 哥哥 (gège) or 姐姐 (jiějie), as a form of respect, similar to how you don't normally call your parents by their names. (This is why in English subtitles you sometimes get the translation of someone calling their siblings "older brother" or "older sister", which sounds awkward in English, but is perfectly natural in Chinese.)

Females also generally have the radical 女 (nǚ), meaning "woman" on the left part of the character.

As you may have more or less than five people in your family, here's some additional vocabulary:
Additional vocabulary (these are the same in Traditional and Simplified):
  • 一 (yī) one
  • 兩 (liǎng) two, when used to indicate how many of something; use 二 (èr) when counting or specifying order
  • 三 (sān) three
  • 四 (sì) four
  • 五 (wǔ) five
  • 六 (liù) six
  • 七 (qī) seven
  • 八 (bā) eight
  • 九 (jiǔ) nine
  • 十 (shí) ten
  • 兄弟 (xiōngdì) brothers (兄 also means "older brother")
  • 姐妹 (jiěmèi) sisters
  • 兄弟姐妹 (xiōngdì jiěmèi) brothers and sisters/siblings
  • 父母 (fùmǔ) parents

If you have more than ten members in your family, no worries! Numbers are easy in Chinese once you can count to ten, and this will be the next lesson.


Here are some more examples!
Click the spoiler below for Traditional Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

Click the spoiler below for Simplified Chinese.
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


Change log:
  • Corrected typos, some wording, and pinyin tones for 女 (nǚ), 一 (yī) and 兩 (liǎng)
  • Added kiekeboe examples.




Last edited by Alot on Sat 09 Jun, 2018; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Sat 26 May, 2018  Reply with quote

I will never learn Chinese but I love the symbols and explanations.


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PostPosted: Sat 09 Jun, 2018  Reply with quote

Good to know you enjoy it, moogle ^^

Updated the previous lesson with some examples smile


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Numbers 數 / 数 (shù) - counting 1-99
PostPosted: Sat 21 Jul, 2018  Reply with quote

Numbers 數 / 数 (shù) - counting 1-99

For this lesson, let's learn to count in Chinese!

Simplified: 数 (shù) is the Chinese word for "number". When pronounced with the third tone (shǔ), the same character means "to count". And when combined with the word for "learn" or "study", 數 學 Simplified: 数学 (shùxué) is the term for "Mathematics".

In the last lesson, we already learned the numbers 1-10, which are the same in Traditional and Simplified Chinese:

  • 一 (yī) one
  • 二 (èr) two, when counting or specifying order
  • 三 (sān) three
  • 四 (sì) four
  • 五 (wǔ) five
  • 六 (liù) six
  • 七 (qī) seven
  • 八 (bā) eight
  • 九 (jiǔ) nine
  • 十 (shí) ten


Chinese numbers work similarly to Arabic numerals in the decimal system. That is, to get 11, we just put together 10 and 1, or 十一 (shíyī). How do you think we would write 15?

To get 20, we put 2 and 10 together, that is 二十 (èrshí). To get 21, that's 2 10's and 1, or 二十一 (èrshíyī). With this system, you can easily count to 99!

I was considering typing out all the numbers to completely illustrate, but I'll just link to this post from https://blogs.transparent.com instead, which goes all the way to 100, 一百 (yìbǎi), and even throws in the number zero, 零 (líng) for no extra charge!

And there you have it, counting in Chinese is as easy as 一,二,三!


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