Banner Image

Top 10 Most Common Chinese mistakes made by English Speakers: #3

YANGYANG CHENG | FEBRUARY 03, 2014

Hello 你好! It's your friendly Chinese teacher Yangyang here again.


This is the eighth in a series of posts on the most common mistakes English speakers make when speaking Chinese.


In my years of teaching Chinese, I have come to notice that English speakers tend to make similar mistakes over and over again. Today, I am going to tell you the most common mistake #3.


The goal here is to become aware of these mistakes to help you avoid making them in the first place! 


Mistake #3: Assuming "and" = 和(hé)


English Speakers often assume that the Chinese word 和(hé)  is equivalent to the English word "and". This assumption is wrong! 


The English word "and" can connect words (e.g. I like apples and oranges), phrases (e.g. I like playing soccer and watching movies) and sentences (I am John and I am American). However, the Chinese word 和(hé) can only connect words or phrases. It CANNOT connect sentences.


For example, it's wrong to say "I am John 和(hé) I am American". "hé" cannot be used to connect these two sentences "I am John" and "I am American". 


Now, you are probably wondering which word should I use when I want to say "I am John AND I am American"?


There are two ways to do this:


First: It's okay if you only say "I am John. PERIOD. I am American." Simply don't insert any word in between these two sentences. That's how most Chinese would say it. We just omit the word "and". If you think about it, it's actually a bad habit in English to use "and" all the time because "and" is merely a filler word here that contributes almost nothing to the meaning of the sentence. 


Second: If you feel compelled to use the word "and", use the Chinese word "还有 (háiyǒu)"  instead. "háiyǒu" means "in addition, also". Again, it's really unnecessary, but if you need a word to say "sentence + and + sentence, use "háiyǒu" instead of "hé".


I hope this helps you understand how the English "and" is different from "和(hé)". Please ask me any questions you have in the comments section below!

More Common Mistakes English Speakers Make

Most Common Mistake #10: Putting Time and Location in the wrong place

Most Common Mistake #9: Using bù (不) to negate a past action

Most Common Mistake #8: Using "le (了)" to indicate past tense for all verbs

Most Common Mistake #7: Forgetting to insert "de (的)" in between adjectives and nouns

Most Common Mistake #6: Confusion about “verb + default object” verbs

Most Common Mistake #5: Using "ma" for "non-yes-or-no" questions

Most Common Mistake #4: Ignoring Chinese Measure Words