Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Travel Linguist - Mandarin 101

Basic Grammar

Just found from my old stuff, the good explanation for the basic mandarin grammar. I think this is good way to make easier for learning mandarin, you will know how to pronounce it correctly. Ok, see these glossaries below:

Sound: Dipthongs
ai as in cry
ao as in now
ei as in prey
ia sounds like ee-ya, spoken rapidly
ie sounds like ee-yeh, spoken rapidly
iu sounds like ee-yo, spoken rapidly
ou as in oh
ua : 1. similar to the sound wa
2. when preceded by x, the sound is closer to we as in Swenson
ua : a combination of ooh and a short e, as in bed
iong: the letter combination iong is pronounced like ung in the German name Jung.

e as in hey or similar to uh
i as in see
o like the u in the German name Jung or as waw
u as in the name Lou
ü or ii pronounced with the lips rounded, like the short u in cute

c like the ts of cats
q sound like the ch of chip
r like a cross between the s in Asia and an r
x most closely resembles a sh sound in English
y before ii and i is not pronounced Elsewhere, sounds like the y in yet
zh sound like the j in jacket

All other consonants are pronounced much as in English, with the exception of v, which does not occur in Chinese.

Chinese Grammar is not so complete. Here are a few basic rules that will help you yo remember simple sentences pattern.
Verbs in Chinese don’t change form according to the tenses, the past, present, and future are understood by context or by reference to when the action or event occurs.
There are some important words which help to clarify the timing of an event:

过 Guo(4), placed after the verb, denotes the past.
了 Le, indicates either the past or that an action is continuing.
会 Hui(4), followed by another verb expresses a future action.
要 Yao(4), plus verb conveys the sense for going to.

Negative and Questions
Negative are formed in the present tense by putting the word bu(4) in front of the verb, as in:

我不去 read ‘wo(3) bu(2) qu(4)’ means ‘I am not going’.

When speaking in terms of the past, the verb is negated by putting the word mei(2) or the words mei(2) you(3) in front of it.

我没去 ‘wo(3) mei(2) qu(4)’ means ‘I didn’t go’
我没有去 ‘wo(3) mei(2) you(3) qu(4)’ means ‘I didn’t go’

For the questions form are by adding the questions particle ‘ma’, at the end of sentence.

您去吗? Read ‘Nin(2) qu(4) ma?’ means ‘Are you going?’

Nouns in chinese do not change in the plural. Depending on the context, therefore, the word sample 鸟 ‘niao(3)’ can be mean bird or birds. There are no words for the and a, but one can express the meaning one with a measure word.

Every Chinese noun has a measure word associated with it, such as the words cup, dozen, or flock, occasionally used in English. Unlike in English, however, measure words are always used when specifying a quantity of a noun in Chinese. When you practice, you need to pay more attention to the Chinese measure word. The most common measure word is 个 ’ge’, usually associated with the nouns for person, hour, dish of food, etc. Ge can be substituted for the measured words of other nouns if you do not know them.


Measure Words for Chinese Mandarin

Measure Words for Chinese Mandarin
One of the difficult grammar for me when I learn mandarin. In English structure we can see the sample like ‘a pair of leg’, ‘three bunches of bananas’, etc. How to use the correct measures words? The different measure words are used in different kinds of object. The most commonly using measure word is 个 ‘ge(4)’. This is normally used to count people too, but if want to more polite we can use 位 ‘wei(4)’
Two of above sentences means ‘three men’, but the second seen more polite.

How about to count the other object? Like a book, paper, animal, etc. For the large flat objects counted by 张, the round objects counted by 支. Example:

我有五张纸 pronounced ‘wo(2) you(3) wu(3) zhang(1) zhi(3)’� means ‘I have five sheet of papers’
你有一支笔 pronounced ‘ni(2) you(3) yi(1) bi(3)’ means ‘You have a pencil’