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Top 10 Most Common Chinese mistakes made by English Speakers: #7


Hey there, Yangyang here to help you avoid some common Chinese mistakes!

This is the fourth 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 #7.

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

Mistake #8: Forgetting to insert  "de ()" in between adjectives and nouns

In English, you can use the same word "pretty" for both "she's pretty" and "she's a pretty girl" and nothing needs to change for the word "pretty".

But in Chinese, to use an adjective that contains more than one character (syllable) to describe a noun, you have to insert "de (的)" in between the adjective and the noun.

Why? I don't know. Just memorize this rule! :) 


She’s pretty.
tā hěn piào lianɡ。 


Pretty girl
piào liàng de nǚ hái 

This movie is interesting.
zhè ɡe diàn yǐnɡ hěn yǒu yì si。 
这个电影很有意思。/ 這個電影很有意思。

Interesting movie
yǒu yì si de diàn yǐnɡ 
有意思电影 / 有意思電影

This cat is cute.
zhè zhī māo hěn kě ài。 
这只猫很可爱。/ 這隻貓很可愛。

Cute cat
kě ài de māo 
可爱猫 / 可愛貓 

However, for adjectives that are only one syllable, you don't need to add "de (的)".


Male student
nán xué shēnɡ 
男学生 / 男學生

Hot soup
rè tānɡ 
热汤 / 熱湯

Small house
xiǎo fánɡ zi 

Good person
hǎo rén 

I hope these examples were helpful and you will be able to premeditate this type of mistake in the future!

We have a lesson in our Beginner Conversational Course that delves into this topic more deeply, take a look:

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YANGYANG CHENG is the founder of Yoyo Chinese and a TV personality. She taught Chinese to MBA students at Pepperdine University. Before that, Yangyang was the host of the popular entertainment TV show "Hello Hollywood!, bringing Western culture to tens of millions of viewers in China. Currently, she teaches Mandarin through video lessons on Yoyo Chinese, and can also be found hosting educational shows on popular channels like the Discovery Channel.

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 05:15:00 GMT

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