Skype Learn Chinese--the bridge: A New Way to Mandarin Chinese

This book is written for English-speaking students who are taking Skype Learn Chinese courses. A basic level vocabulary and understanding of Chinese grammar and culture is presented in this Skype Learn Chinese series. It is an effort to introduce the Skype Learn Chinese students to the  language by explaining its basic principles in simple steps. The purpose is to prepare the student with a foundation on which to build, with confidence, its ensuing complexities.

Skype Learn Chinese  A New Way to Mandarin Chinese lesson 16


A Summary         

Skype Learn Chinese  A New Way to Mandarin Chinese Lesson 16 Part I

In Skype Learn Chinese, a number is not a noun or an adjective. Numbers indicate ‘how many’, and ‘how many’ does not name an object or describe it. In English we may say, “She is a ten” or “He is number two man on the totem pole”, but in Skype Learn Chinese these are idioms and do not make the numbers nouns or adjectives in Skype Learn Chinese She is ‘top of a list of ten candidates’ whose qualifications are the nouns and adjectives listed by a sequence of numbers, and he is number two, i.e. not the top person, in a list for a leadership position. So, numbers act as a specific kind of classifier in Skype Learn Chinese to say, “how many” of a thing are involved. Normally, numbers need another word, a classifier or measure word to explain ten ‘what’ or two ‘what’ and this is an important feature of Chinese in Skype Learn Chinese (to be covered next).


There are two numbers in in Skype Learn Chinese that are different from English. For example, yī “one”, also means “a” thing, although ‘one thing’ enumerates an object and ‘a thing’ only suggests one of many, and there are two two’s in in Skype Learn Chinese, èr and liǎng. èr is the number two in counting 1, 2, 3; decimals, fractions and in numbers over ten (a bigger number than two hands can make). The other, liǎng, ‘two’, is used in non-mathematical situations in Skype Learn Chinese: two books, two people, and liǎng is used before classifiers.


In counting from 1 to 99 , the numbers 1 to 10 are used in Skype Learn Chinese  ( yī, one, to shí, ten, eleven is 一十一 ninety nine is 九十九 jiǔ shí jiǔ ). bǎi is a hundred. It is a word, not the numbers, one zero zero and 100 to 900 is to九百.líng is ’zero’, it doesn’t make hundreds and thousands in Skype Learn Chinese but it does one important thing not required of the English zero. For example, one hundred and one is 一百零一 yī bǎi líng yī . Here, zero fills the missing ‘tens’ slot, to maintain the columns of hundreds tens units. Thus, although it doesn’t have a numerical value (i.e. it’s zero) it plays a bit of a different role in Skype Learn Chinese ordering Chinese numbers than it does in English. Students in Skype Learn Chinese can learn more about this. 


Skype Learn Chinese  A New Way to Mandarin Chinese Lesson 16 Part II

Fractions are handled similarly to English mathematics and Arabic numerals are becoming widespread in  Skype Learn Chinese. The important thing to notice, however is that, in  the Skype Learn Chinese, the denominator comes before the numerator (the number of parts dividing the number into a fraction comes before the number of those parts which the fraction has.) i.e. 1/2 in Skype Learn Chinese  is 二分之èr fēn zhī yī. Here, the denominator, has two, parts which are ‘separated’ fēn, by their connection zhī, to the numerator into one of the 2 parts. So, a half is one divided by two (in English) and two providing one (in Skype Learn Chinese).


Percentages are written as fractions of a hundred in Skype Learn Chinese. So, 2% is 百分之二bǎi fēn zhī èr, one hundred divisions with two related parts. One thing in Skype Learn Chinese to notice, however, is that bǎi is not yī bǎi. That is, bǎi is not ‘one’ hundred, but the ‘hundred divisions of percentages’, as if that role in Skype Learn Chinese is not a number but a name, similar to the word bǎi itself, which is a name rather than one zero zero. Well, those are some of the main differences between English and Skype Learn Chinese numbers. If you get through all that, you’ll be doing very well in Skype Learn Chinese.


dì before a number marks it as an ‘ordinal’, (第一 dìyī first, 第二dìèr second, etc.). An ‘ordinal’ acts as an adjective, describing something, In Skype Learn Chinese, ‘First base’, ‘second warning’ etc. rather than specifying how many things are involved in something. This causes a conflict in Skype Learn Chinese, when the following word is a classifier or a measure word.  For example, ‘the first class in the morning’ is ok. Students in Skype Learn Chinese can learn more about this. In Skype Learn Chinese, Class is a noun, the name of a group of dedicated students (!), and a noun is ok for an ’ordinal’ (adjective), but the ‘first class cabin’ on an ocean liner is not. Too bad. This class in Skype Learn Chinese is a classifier and a classifier doesn’t get an adjective in Skype Learn Chinese. So, when an ordinal confronts a classifier (or measure word) in Skype Learn Chinese, the dì is dropped, leaving the number (one) as the indicator for ’first’, and two ( liǎng did I hear you say? Go to the head of the class!) as the indicator for ‘second’. (Yes, that’s right. liǎng before a classifier, not èr.)


Well, in Skype Learn Chinese,that’s it. A load of stuff in Skype Learn Chinese, tricky to understand, but better to get it out of the way in the beginning. In Skype Learn Chinese, it ain’t too hard to recall. That’s one good thing in Skype Learn Chinese, because it’s different. Just remember: one’s, two’s, hundreds, zeroes, fractions, percentages and “ordinals”, (Othz f4P-ons) but go back over it one more time if you have to. It’s worth knowing in Skype Learn Chinese.



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