chinese character 对

89. 对 duì Isn’t Always ‘Correct’

Podcast Duration: 01:12:53

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The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast focuses primarily on The Mandarin Blueprint Method online curriculum. Creators Luke Neale & Phil Crimmins answer questions and comments, discuss topics related to China and Mandarin learning, and have special guests.

89. 对 duì Isn't Always 'Correct'

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0:18 Grammar Point


Foreigners in China tend to learn 对 as “correct,” which is its most frequent usage. However, you can also use “对“ as a relator between people, places, and things to express “towards.” Unlike “往 wǎng,” however, 对 doesn’t necessarily imply a destination. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Sentence 1 :

我对他说:我爱你! – Level 19
Wǒ duì tā shuō: wǒ ài nǐ!
I said to him; I love you!

Imagine that your friend overheard you from the next room saying “我爱你” but didn’t see who you said it towards. You’d say to your friend, “我*对*Henry说,” to clarify the target of your affection.

Sentence 2 :

他对这件事不想多说。 – Level 22
Tā duì zhè jiàn shì bù xiǎng duō shuō.
He doesn’t want to talk much about this matter.

From here, you can see that the object after 对 can be abstract like “这件事.” It doesn’t have to be a person.

对 & Expressing Opinions

Sentences 3:

这些钱对他来说不少。 – Level 22
Zhè xiē qián duì tā lái shuō bù shǎo. 
This is no small amount of money, in his opinion. 

You can also write this sentence as “对他来说,这些钱不少.” This structure of “对 […] 来说,” clarifies from whose perspective the statement derives. While it’s commonly used with pronouns (e.g., 对我来说 – 对他来说 – 对你来说), it doesn’t have to be. For example:

Sentences 4:

对我们说英文的人来说,学汉语比学别的语言难一点。 – Level 27
Duì wǒmen shuō yīngwén de rén lái shuō, xué hànyǔ bǐ xué biéde yǔyán nán yīdiǎn.
For us who speak English, learning Chinese is a bit harder than learning other languages.

In this sentence, instead of “他” filling the blank of “对[…]来说,” we have “我们说英文的人.” This goes to show that you can provide as much detail as you’d like about the person (or people) expressing a position.

What’s Your Attitude Towards

Sentences 5 & 6:

These two sentences show how you can use psychological verbs in combination with 对 to relate the attitude to whatever comes after “对.”

她对她的男朋友不满意。 – Level 25
Tā duì tāde nán péngyǒu bù mǎnyì.
She’s not satisfied with her boyfriend.

你对我的同事感兴趣吗? – Level 29
Nǐ duì wǒde tóngshì gǎn xìngqù ma?
Are you interested in my colleague?

The structure is “Subject + 对 + Object + Psychological Verb.” Both 满意 and 感兴趣 are quite common, but here are some more examples:

Duì…yǒu xìngqù
To have an interest in…

有兴趣 is nearly the same as 感兴趣, but it’s not as high a degree. Especially when you’re saying “对 + PERSON + 感兴趣.” To say that you are “感兴趣” towards a person reveals a potential romantic interest.

To be responsible for…

To be disappointed in/with…

To be curious about…

What’s Your Treatment Towards?

Another usage of 对 relates to the word 对待 duìdài, which means “to treat” or “treatment of [someone/something].” Let’s take a look at a couple of examples:

Sentences 7:

不吃菜对身体不好。 – Level 26
Bù chī cài duì shēntǐ bù hǎo. 
Not eating vegetables is bad for your health.

Smoking? Not exercising? Drinking in excess? All of these behaviors are ways of *treating* your body/health (身体) poorly. Now you know how to express this idea! Of course, you could also say something is *good* for your health by replacing the “不” with “很,” for example:


Duōduō yùndòng duì shēntǐ hěn hǎo. 

Frequently exercising is good for your health.

Sentence 8:

有什么办法可以找到一个对我又好长得又好看的男朋友呢? – Level 25
Yǒu shénme bànfǎ kěyǐ zhǎodào yíge duì wǒ yòu hǎo zhǎngde yòu hǎo kàn de nán péngyǒu ne?
What’s a good way to find a guy who treats me well and is also handsome?

Regardless of whether you’re expressing opinions, attitudes, treatments, etc., 对 relates how the subject is behaving *towards* the object. Keep your eye out for these usages as you move forward. That way, you can 对你自己很好.  

10:12 Comments & Emails


I wanted to pick people’s brain on how much time they spend reviewing on Anki.

About a week ago, I found that I was spending A LOT of time doing my reviews, to the point that I couldn’t study new words. Anki wanted me to review 150-250 cards a day (half grammar, half words), which was taking me 1 – 1.5 hours a day. I did not have the time to do that + learn a meaningful number of new words each day.

I managed to reduce this time to 45 – 1 hr by downloading the Speed Focus Anki add-on, which makes me automatically reject a card if I spend more 15 seconds on it (I found that to be a good approach because if I have to spend that much time thinking about a word, I essentially don’t know it). However, this is still is a bit more time than I’d like to spend reviewing.

To be clear, I am not counting adding new cards then encountering them in Anki for the first time as part of the review process. Review is strictly old cards.

Should I just timebox my Anki Review to 30 minutes a day, hard stop? Does anybody have experience doing less than the Anki recommendation (or tweaking the parameters), and thoughts on whether that affects retention?

Generally speaking, what is an effective ratio of Reviewing Time vs. Time Spent Learning New Words?


Jonathan Pritchard by Community

Life went sideways for a couple of months, and my daily practice fell off the radar, but I’ve put in 4 consecutive days of refreshing my Anki cards. Even with all the mnemonic experience I have, I’m *still* majorly impressed with the high retention of the characters I’d practiced a while back.

I love it; I can’t say enough good things about all the work you’ve put in.


Cameron Ogle by Community

Hey. My name is Cameron. I live in Melbourne, Australia. I am two days into the Mandarin Blueprint experience and am loving it so far. While I am not a complete beginner I am emptying my cup to start again with a fresh mind. 

I have always been interested in China and Chinese culture thanks to my parents and martial arts. I even studied Traditional Chinese Medicine at University here in Melbourne for 2 years before switching out after realising that career wasn’t for me. 

I have started and stopped learning a few languages along the way, including Mandarin but am determined to make it work this time and this course is feeling like the perfect fit right now. 

Cheers. Cameron. 


Alex C by Community

Hey team! I just completed the pronunciation mastery course and wanted to say that it’s been absolutely phenomenal, and I can’t want to continue with the foundations! My mandarin teacher (pre-covid) has said that my pronunciation has been quite good, but after taking the course and delving into the subtle nuances and details, I feel confident I’m on track to being really solid. Thank you so much.

I would love to know what the approximate estimated # of active hours would be required to complete the MB Method – Foundation course. That includes video hours + reasonable expected Anki study hours. With that number, it makes it easy for me to break down how much time in my schedule will be able to allow me to progress through this course!

This is totally a generalized question so I understand if the response is also incredibly generalized and becomes a pretty fuzzy range 🙂 


Fred Snyder by Community

Hi Luke, Phil
I have a question.  From past study I have a character recognition and use of about 1000 words/characters, able to read and understand graded readers with that level.  For part one of MBM I know most of the vocabulary and can’t see the point in creating scenes and movies.   

Question:  How can I use MBM to look up those (usually more complicated) characters and trace back to how to use components and characters that I already know in creating my memory cues?

Not sure if I’m explaining my issue clearly, but any comments would be helpful.

By the way, the pronunciation course was fantastic!!



Al Roy by Email

Okay, this is a relatively minor thing in the bigger picture, but it was a cool ‘ah ha!’ moment for me.
I’ve been faithfully going through my Anki cards day after day; and some stuff I pick up with little or no real effort, while I can go over and over and over other things, and even though I see the English translation at the bottom after hitting the Show Answer button, they just don’t make ‘thinking’ sense to me.
On one of the ‘Another Brick Added’ grammar review cards, there is the following sentence: 那如果你还是觉得不完美,你又要写一次吗? Okay… so it’s not a super complicated sentence, but for me, it just wouldn’t click. So tonight I went over it a few more times, and suddenly the clouds opened up and I saw a bit of sunshine, so to speak. And I GOT it! Yippee! But that isn’t all of the story. As I continue to work through the lessons, the daily exposure to characters, words, and sentences does seem to be having the desired effect. 
So after I finally in the above Chinese sentence IN CHINESE, I said to myself “I FINALLY get it!” And then I said out loud “我总算了解了!”
Okay, so I probably got a bit too excited, and ended up leaving out a ‘this’ or ‘that’, but the cool thing was that it was a completely GENERATED IN CHINESE sentence. Now I know I’ve done a few of those before, but so far I think they’ve all closely paralleled other sentences that were memorized. But this was a pure sentence, generated in Chinese, without having to think anything in Korean or English. I grabbed my phone and spoke it into that bastion of accurate machine translation (sarc), Google Translate, and it came out in English as ‘I finally understand.’
Good enough for me – at least for now. I’ve learned 480 characters so far, to Level 31. I find that I’m more in a Flow State when I actually know more characters, and don’t have to rely on using the top down translations as I go along. But in reality I am working through the sentences at Level 18. But things seem to be accelerating (probably a short growth spurt, but I’ll take it) a bit over the past few days as I’ve learned more characters, so I expect to work through several levels per day over the coming week, and am quite excited about it. With the number of characters I’ve learned, I intend to slowly change my focus more toward spending time on the content, and not focus quite so heavily on the characters. But so far it’s helped me the way I had hoped it would.
I remember passing through the longer readings a while back, as I focused on just acquiring 汉子 for a couple of weeks. So I expect I’ll be encountering those readings probably some time this week. I’m very much looking forward to that!
Side note: I fully expected to be farther along by now, but life has a funny way at times of getting in front of the things I want to do, and making me deal with other, more pressing things; and this of course pulls me away from study time, whether I like it or not. But I’m still thrilled to be making progress in spite of all that.
Just thought I’d reach out and let y’all know where I’m at. This is kind of sort of becoming more fun as I progress.


Hen Truong by Email

Hi Luke and Phil,
Thank you for your personal email concerning my experience with the MB method. It’s been very interesting to know there’s a systematic method to learn (and remember :)) Chinese characters. I’m a slow learner, so I’m just passing level 3 to level 4 and trying to put things together. I shall update with you about my progress. In the mean time, I know I will slowly but surely master the techniques and can’t wait for the day I can read Mandarin without Pinyin help. :)Thanks again for sharing the excellent method of teaching/studying Mandarin. 
Best Regards,
Henry Truong


Darci Mallon by Email

Hi Phil and Luke,
I absolutely endorse, with no reservations using your program to learn mandarin; I love it in fact. I hesitated in the beginning because I had just paid premium for chinese 101 and had several small apps at were working… somewhat. I should have paid your full subscription cost without taking the discount in all fairness to your excellent program but I had no idea yet how much work had gone into develping these courses, nor how valuable they would prove to be. I’m only starting today on level 13 and am so excited to get into it. Can we wait a bit for me to figure out how best to give you the feedback you need and in a form I can do. Right now, I want to just get into this level and see what ANKI offers me. 

Thanks for all your patience and answering my quiries quickly. Best regards,darci


Phill Challinor on Make a Movie 袋

If someone had shown me this symbol 4 weeks ago, I’d have said
it looked virtually impossible to recognise, never mind know how
to pronounce it with the correct tone and write it as well.
Terrific method – again – guys! Can’t say it enough.


Helen limon on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 一半

I’m writing this now in case, as I get more confident, I forget
the sense of elation I felt finishing this lesson and realising,
with the pronunciation course under my belt, that I was making
real progress. I really tried to learn Chinese when I lived in
Shanghai for a few months but so very little seemed to ‘stick’
that I lost confidence. Your method is really transformative and
I’m very (very) pleased I found it. Thank you!


Julio Novoa-Barron on BONUS VIDEO: The 6 Types of Chinese Character (Part 3 of 3)

Wow. Now it all makes sense. I gave up Chinese twice, because I
couldn’t understand the characters, specially when you have the
exact pronunciation for each different one. You explained in one
simple page the components so easily, it makes my mind blow up.


Aaron Braden on Mandarin Syllables Introduction

Thank you thank you Mandarin Blueprint for creating this awesome
program. I’ve been intimidated before trying to learn mandarin
but the way MBP is set up makes it so much easier and gives me
confidence that can lear it. How you guys break down how to
pronounce the words makes so much sense. So far I’m having a


Christine on Pick a Prop 八

I am a bit confused – maybe this was addressed previously, but
if you want to associate it with the meaning, and you had already
used BB8 from Star Wars in the movie to ‘create’ this character,
why can’t you continue to use BB8 as the prop to represent this?


Máire Liath Ní Bhrádaigh on MAKE A MOVIE 计

I had a really difficult month when I was working back to back
and only managed to revise some ankhi sporadically. Good news, I
can remember how all of the hanji looks and what the words mean,
and I can still write them recognisably and with the strokes in
the right order. I remember all my initial sounds and tones. Bad
news, I can’t remember why the final here is an ‘-i.’ Could you
point me to the lessons regarding finals again? Sorry!


LaMotta Augustus on Casting Call er 12/55

Quick question. If I’m in the zone and studying for a few hours
in a row; say, two or more hours, is it O.K. to take a 10 min. or
so music break–a music break that has nothing to do with the
Chinese language? I guess it could be a music break or something
else totally unrelated to Chinese. Curious to know what your
thoughts are about that.


Nore Eckerberg on MAKE A MOVIE 了

Hey team, I proudly told my Chinese friend that I’ve learnt the
concept of 了 as a “change” and she didn’t understand what I meant
so I took the example you had in the video about looking someone.
She said that that sentence makes no sense at all. I asked why
and she just said that it makes no sense to a Mandarin speaker
but she was not sure why. “idk, but 我喜欢她了 just makes no sense;
that’s for sure”.
I asked her for better examples and she gave:
“You are introducing your cousin to your buddy: “this is my
little cousin; she is a cute girl, and 我可喜欢她了”
It makes sense, and 可 here emphasizes the depth of emotions”
“”I smile”, but in Chinese you cannot say “我笑”; “了” is a
necessity here”
“You can also say “我可喜欢吃饭了”(I super like eating(a clumsy verbatim

So I have two questions – what’s wrong with the sentence you
provided and why does a native speaker think it’s so weird? Was
it taken out of context maybe?
And can you explain how the concept of “change” in her examples,
especially the ones with eating and cousin?


Alex Chong on MAKE A MOVIE 从

I’m noticing that I’m having a challenging time coming up with
props in particular because as I come up with something, the
examples in the video keep overriding my choices because of how
often it’s mentioned. This is causing me to have a
double-association with each prop, to the point where I think
I’ve just surrendered and defaulted to the suggested prop. Is
this a common phenomenon you noticed from other students, or is
it just me personally?


Simon Mellor on ANKI DECK(S) INSIDE – Level 6 Complete

Hey Luke, on the point of having difficulty with some characters
remembering sets or actors (even with daily reviews) would you
suggest visually re-enforcing the same ones more clearly or
instead selecting entirely new ones? Cheers legend


Alex Sumray on Make a Movie 母

Hi there,
How often with this be used compared to mama?


Nore Eckerberg on MAKE A MOVIE 的

According to my Chinese friend, a lot of Chinese don’t even know
this distinction of the word and referred to it as Ancient
Chinese, and thought it was very cool that I knew this! I assume
it was used in this lesson since it’s much easier to imagine a
bullseye rather than a grammatical particle :p


William Edmeades on Level 57 Complete

Not that this is a race, but it took 306 days to reach 1530
characters from 0. Just another stat to add to Luke and Phil’s
collection :p
Bring on the next expansion!! Can’t wait!!


Jason Pon on Simple Final Ü (YU): 去 qù

‘Wo bu qu’ is the negative response to ‘Will you go drink’.

Would ‘wo bu he’ also be acceptable? In the earlier lesson in
terms of forming responses, the pertinent information is used. In
this case, a compound verb sentence contains 2 pieces of
information: qu = to go, and he = to drink.

So, would it make equal sense to say ‘No go’ and ‘No drink’? Does
it depend on what message I want to convey in response? For
instance, if I actually do want to drink but don’t want to go,
may I say ‘bu qu’, signalling that they should suggest a new
location to drink but also not give up the hope that I will in
fact drink with them? Or vice versa, ‘bu he’ to suggest that I do
not want to drink but I want to go eat some noodles with them?

Xie xie in advance!


Jiggy-Jay Diderich on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 的

Is 的话 always or most of the time followed by 就?


Hunter McCoid on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 起来

Is usage 1 only possible as ‘想起来‘? Or can 想 be replaced with
other verbs?

Alex Sumray on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 起来

Been doing fine with the sentences, but this page really threw
I’m struggling to understand the usage of 想 and 起来 amongst other
things in some of these sentences.
Is it advisable to really try and focus on this, or move on and
try to acquire it naturally over time?


Simon Mellor on It’s a Word! 白

Just on the sentences below, are we assuming that the flower is
part of a patch or place and therefore using 这里 instead of 这个?


zhèli de bái huā hěn kù

This white flower is cool! 


Chris Calitz on This is What Your Study Session Should Look Like (REQUIRED)

I downloaded the HW Levels 1-3 into Anki (I am on a Mac), but I
do not see the levels broken down in the Browse function. There
is only a single line that says “HW Levels 1-3”. Should I try
downloading again? Thanks, Chris

56:29 Movies! 

This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters.

Phill Challinor on Make a Movie 父

Forest Gump is in the bathroom of my childhood home and there’s
BB8 (the prop for my 八) and an old-fashioned, manual lawnmower.
Forest is pushing the lawnmower and he is holding BB8 above the
handles as you might a very small child. He’s playing with him
like a father with his child.


Derek Haung on Make a Movie 推

Sometimes, instead of creating a visual in my head from the
normal memory method with props. I would look at this character,
break it down, and it looks like a “finger poking/pushing a

I do this quite often and these days if I don’t know/don’t
remember the character I would try to break it down – try to
recognize it.

Hope this helps anyone.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 丁

My friend Donna is at the entrance of my “eng” location, and she
desperately wants to enter and go to the cafeteria, because she
can see through the window that they only have one of her
favourite PUDDINGS left. However, there is a huge, nasty hockey
player at the door blocking her way with his stick, because he
wants the PUDDING too! She reaches into her purse for her handy
razor blade and deftly throws it, cutting off the top of the
hockey stick, leaving him in wonderment as she zips by him.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 打

Donald Trump is in the living room of my daughter’s apartment.
He believes that she needs a big picture of him up on her wall.
He is trying to hammer a nail into the wall, but he keeps HITTING
his finger. He immediately tweets out that it is Obama’s fault.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 哥

My grandson Gabriel and his OLDER BROTHER, who can drive, are
meeting me at the entrance of the school where I teach (“e”
location). They are carrying two photos of JFK, one on top of the
other, because my students are studying JFK’s inauguration speech
today, and I want to put pictures of him on my board, but I
forgot them at home by mistake. I give the OLDER BROTHER a big
hug, and thank him for driving Gabriel.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 骑

My niece, Chelsey, is in the kitchen of my childhood home with
Jesus and a horse. Jesus looks tired. She suggests to Jesus that
he RIDE the horse and rest up a bit.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 椅

My friend Ingrid and Jesus are in the living room of my
childhood home with all of my family members and a beautiful pine
tree left over from Christmas. She looks around, but every couch
and CHAIR is filled already, so Jesus asks her to bring him the
tree. He touches the tree and, miraculously, it turns into a
CHAIR for her to sit on. She says, “No, please, you sit.” He
says, “No, please, you sit.”


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 内

My “N” actor is in the backyard of my “ei” set. He finds an
beautiful umbrella displayed under a glass case, obviously very
valuable. It begins to rain. He goes through tremendous INTERNAL
struggle, should he or shouldn’t he, but then reaches under the
case and steals the umbrella.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 两

My friend Lori is in the living room of my “ang” set. She has A
COUPLE OF amazing dancing brooms that she would like to display
in a glass case, but they are too long. She cuts the ends off of
the brooms so that they will fit.


Natalia Kovalenko on Make a Movie 厌

Irina is playing in Andy’s backyard with her favourite pitbull
(prop 1). Suddenly it starts to rain. Irina believes her pitbull
DETESTS rain so she puts a hard hat (prop 2) on his head. Pitbull
is furious. He actually does’t mind rain but absolutely DETESTS
having anything touch his head.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 金

Jessica is trying to make a grand entrance at my “(e)n” set. She
is wearing a gorgeous GOLDen crown, and her servant is carrying a
beautiful flowered parasol over her. Unfortunately, the parasol
doesn’t cover the fact that she has devil horns growing out of
her head, and they are making it difficult to keep the GOLDen
crown on her head.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 天

My friend Tamera is at the entrance of my “an” set. She is
enjoying a gin and tonic on the front patio, and is basking in
the sun. However, Clifford the Big Dog comes bounding over to
play. He hasn’t been groomed in months, and his shaggy hair
blocks all view of the SKY when he stands over her. She pulls out
her handy razor clippers and gives him a much needed haircut.
When she is done Clifford is back to his handsome self, and she
can once more see the SKY and enjoy the sun.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 算

Mike Wazowski is in the backyard of my “an” set. As usual, he
has gotten himself into some trouble. He has locked himself into
handcuffs, before noticing that there is no key to unlock them.
Snow White has come to his rescue. Bamboo is the only material
available in the backyard, so she is making careful CALCULATions
in order to create a key out of it so she can free Mike. He is
quite upset, so she reassures him, saying, “I CALCULATE that I
will have you free in just three more minutes Mike, don’t worry.”


Della Fuller on  Make a Movie 联

My friend Lori is in my “an” set kitchen. Her ear is throbbing,
and she really needs to GET IN TOUCH with her doctor in order to
have it checked. However, she is in so much pain that she has
messed up her phone password too many times and it has now


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 妈

RBG is standing at the entrance of my “a” set. Matt Damon comes
riding up on his horse. He shouts, “MOM, is that you? I’ve been
looking for you everywhere!” RBG replies, “No, sorry, but I’m
sure she’s very proud of you.”


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 好

Heath Ledger walks into the living room of my “ao” set. RBG and
PeeWee Herman are already there, sitting on the couch and
chatting. Heath says, “GOOD!” Now that you are both here, could
you listen to me run through my lines? I don’t know if I’m any


Natalia Kovalenko on Make a Movie 近

Julia Roberts is in the bathroom of my -(e)n location, stepping
on the scale (prop 1) to check her weight and realizing that
there’s no way she’s going to fit into that ballgown (prop 2) she
is having made for the Academy Awards. She’s so embarrassed she
doesn’t even want to go outside. She is trying to find out if
there’s a weight loss clinic NEARBY where she can go for a few