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Getting started with Chinese 3
Getting started with Chinese 3

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8 Character combination and word formation

Words in Chinese are formed by one or more characters. Below are some combinations of characters to understand how each word is formed.

hăo (very) +  jiŭ (long) +  (no) +  jiàn (to meet; to see) →  hăo jiŭ bú jiàn 好久不见 (long time no see; haven’t seen you for ages)

zěnme 怎么 (how) +  yàng (manner, method) →  zěnme yàng 怎么样 (How are you? How are things?)

yǒu (to have) +  qián (money) →  yǒuqián 有钱 (rich)

yǒu (to have) +  yòng (to use) →  yǒuyòng 有用 (useful)

méi (no, not) +  qián (money) →  méiqián 没钱 (poor)

Activity 12

Below is some new vocabulary made up of words and phrases you have already learnt. Study the meaning of each individual character in each combination. Can you work out the meaning of each new word/phrase? Match each of them with its English equivalent.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. yǒuqiánrén 有钱人

  2. gāodà 高大

  3. fùyǒu 富有

  4. shòuxiǎo 瘦小

  5. méiyòng 没用

  • a.wealthy

  • people

  • c.thin and small

  • d.tall and big

  • e.useless

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = b
  • 2 = d
  • 3 = a
  • 4 = c
  • 5 = e