chinese character 离

91. How ‘Far Away’ Are You? Chinese Character 离 lí

Podcast Duration: 01:05:13

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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.

91. How 'Far Away' Are You? Chinese Character 离 lí

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0:25 Grammar Point


离 is the relator to use when you want to compare the distance between two places. Most often, it’s only necessary to use to express relative difference (i.e., close or far away). Therefore, 离 most often pairs with 近 jìn (close) or 远 yuǎn (distant).

Sentence 1:

公司离我家很远。 – Level 21
Gōngsī lí wǒ jiā hěn yuǎn.
The office is far from my house.

As you can see, the structure is 

Location 1 + 离 + Location 2 + Relative Distance.

公司 + 离 + 我家 + 很近

Sentence 2:

我住的地方离学校不远,所以我每天骑车或者走路去上课。 – Level 27
Wǒ zhù de dìfang lí xuéxiào bù yuǎn, suǒyǐ wǒ měitiān qí chē huòzhě zǒulù qù shàngkè.
I don’t live far from school, so I go to classes by bike or on foot.

Instead of saying “我家,” the speaker says, “我住的地方.” Like English, you can say “my home” or “where I live.” In this case, it’s “from 离 school 学校 not far 不远. Naturally, 不远 and 很近 are merely two ways of expressing “close.” 

Sentence 3:

贵州离四川不远。 – Level 37
Guìzhōu lí Sìchuān bù yuǎn.
Guizhou province is not far from Sichuan province.

We hope you can see that this particular structure is straightforward. The only thing that can trip people up is the different word order compared to English, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

3:30 Comments & Emails

Al Roy by Email

I thought I’d share a small but interesting experience that happened just now. No reason other than you might find it kinda sorta interesting.
The local restaurants have started opening up again here locally over from I guess three or four days ago. So at the moment, I happen to be sitting at a table of my A set. Aside from a visit a couple of days ago, I haven’t had the opportunity to actually be here and sit down at a table since the lockdown began, which was when I was really just getting started with making 汉字 movies.

So the set is Canyon Alpine Restaurant. I borrowed the A from Alpine to make it my A set. The owner’s wife was sitting at a table talking with her waitress. I’ve been sitting here at a table going through my Anki cards, and decided to go over and let the boss’s wife know that her restaurant is actually one of my sets.

The character I was reviewing is 夏, which takes place about 50 or 60 feet away from where I am currently sitting, at a picnic table behind the restaurant. So I went over, sat down beside her, and explained how it works. I expected her eyes to glaze over right away, but she made it through most of the explanation of what a hanzi movie is before that happened.

At the end, she said it sounds ‘way to complicated’ and ‘it must be a guy thing’, lol!

Here’s the movie:
“Alpine back yard:
It’s SUMMER time, and Shelagh (my co actress) is ready for it. She puts a fake nose and a razor blade on top of an Atlas robot and gets it to stand out back by the picnic tables to entertain the SUMMER customers.”
I’ll take a couple of pictures of my A set and attach them. The picnic table has an Atlas (Boston Dynamics) robot standing on it. 


Natasha Pauling by Community

Hi. I’m Natasha, and I am new to the MB Community. 

I was having a difficult time with the initial tones, as I had learned them poorly using a previous learning method. 

I found that relating the tones to music notes was helpful to me, as my mind is already accustomed to single notes, sliding notes, etc. To break it down even further, I used the sliding tone for “do” to “so” for the second tone, and “so” to “la” to “do” for the fourth tone.

Has anyone else used this method with any success, and is there any possibility of incorporating it into the pronunciation portion of the MB as an alternate learning method?


Irene Ong by Community

I’ve completed to Level 4 and feel anxious as to how I am going to  remember the chinese characters learned so far, more so with harder ones in future lessons.   The Mandarin Blueprint Method is based on pinyin to set a movie to remember the character.   Can you advise how to recognise the chinese characters  without the pinyin?  Am I missing a step because out of the 30 characters learnt, I 
am forgetting the characters 19,22 &23.
介, 兄, 兑


Eleanor Todd by Community

Hi folks,

I’m working on level 13 and having a great time! I have two questions. 

First, the sentences are a huge relief, even though there are a lot to catch up on; it really feels like these words are being learned more deeply! It seems like the practice is reinforcing the connection from characters to meaning. On its own, this is great, but there are other connections that seem important too, like characters to speech and speech to meaning. 

As an experiment, I set up an extra deck that took the lvl 12 sentences and generated 3 cards: 1. Pronounce a sentence from characters. 2. Write a sentence from speech. 3. Understand the meaning from speech. 

This practice (especially the writing) is challenging, but I feel much more fluid in understanding, saying, and writing the characters afterward. My question: Is going this deep worth my time at this point? If not, why not?

Second, having unlocked the ability to read whole sentences (yay!), what is the next major goal or milestone that I’m working towards? At what level will I reach that milestone?


Simon Mellor by Community

Hey Legends!

My name is Simon, I’ve been on the course since mid February and just hit lucky level 13 this morning. I’d like to introduce myself but also share a few thoughts on the MB course so far.

As I understand it, part of the MB philosophy is putting faith in learning persistence (efficiently and affectively) and exposure to the language, knowing you will acquire Mandarin Chinese naturally in time. Just like as a kid, you don’t try to learn language, it just happens in your surroundings. Before I began I set no time limit on how quickly I wanted to become ‘fluent’ – and the reward from this is I have felt no pressure and instead found studying both really interesting and enjoyable. Regarding the learning content/method, in my opinion so far, the MB team have nailed it.

Also this is the first time I’ve paid for an online course. With my abacus I worked out if I was to study with MB for 3 years the cost would be just over $1000 – compare that to the 10’s of thousands it would cost to go to uni, it’s a no brainer. Not to mention the lack of exams and fear of failure (how can you fail if you don’t have a time limit?)

Some reminders I give myself on the weekly:

Trust yourself and trust the process.
Be aware when entering flow state, there’s a chance you may wake up the next day with a thousand Anki cards to review.

Anyway, long story short I’m frothing to start level 13 so I’ll get back to that.

Big love to the whole MB team, 谢谢您


ps. Two questions,

What is the background music for the video here?

Where is the petition for Phil to grow back his almighty beard?


Ashlee O’Dell by Community

Hi guys – I am just now starting the MBM Foundation course. I am really impressed with the prep work done in the Anki decks and the detail of this method. I have a few questions that I haven’t found answers to yet… 

1. I’m having a hard time remembering the script of the scene (most of which have been provided so far by you guys). I’m sure there’s a place in the Anki decks for recording the story, but I can’t seem to find it. I was trying to unsuspend the Word Review card for 半 and I found that it asked for a “Lived Experience” and a “Mnemonic” which I don’t remember being discussed. 

2. One of the other members asked a question below and I have also been wondering about this. I’m only only Level 2 so I’m sure it will get easier with time, but I want to study in Anki in the right way. When I see a character for review, I can see the props, but if I don’t know the pinyin at all, are the props themselves supposed to remind me of the actor and the set? Sometimes I can remember the actions that are taken between the props but I think in the future I might have a problem distinguishing which actor it is… If that gets explained better later, just let me know and I’ll let it go for now! 🙂 

Otherwise, I’m so thankful for you guys! I just wish you could do this for other languages as well! 🙂 


Natalia Kovalenko on Make a Movie 应

It feels AMAZING to reach 400 characters, in less than 2 months
since I started. I never would have thought it possible in a
million years. Haven’t yet missed a single day of Anki. I don’t
think I’ve ever been so completely absorbed in anything in my
life, not in decades anyway. My family is worried about my mental


Yasmin Guendouzi on Time to Get Real About Sentences

Absolutely flabbergasted that I was able to read all of those
sentences and comprehend the meaning. The only one I got confused
with was “我的电话卡了” because I didn’t know 卡 also had the meaning
for slow processing. I am extremely excited to move forward and
continue my learning journey. Thank you lads for making something
that once appeared very daunting, into something fun and


Sai Hseing Pha on YOU DID IT!!!

Thank you so much Phil and Luke. I really enjoyed the
pronounciation course from the Mandarin Blueprint. I have a
problem with my pronounciation and this course really helped me a
lot. I really loved the way you teach and I can not stop watching
your lecture. I will start learning the Chinises charaters and
try to get to the next level. By the end of 2020, I promise to
speak Chinese. Thank you again for giving me this opportunity.


Jim L Elliott on Unit 1 Wrap-Up

So far, so good. Just learning about the color coding on Pleco
was worth the price of the course.


Lisa Leutheuser on It’s a Word!

Maybe this question has been answered elsewhere, but I haven’t
found it yet. So we learned gan1 with a movie set in the
entrance, but the same character, as shown above, has a different
meaning and different tone. Dry and “to do work” are very
different meanings. Do we eventually create a second movie set in
the bathroom for memorizing this gan4 meaning?


James Kell on Make a Movie 己

Isn’t it a horse head, razor and hook? That might make this
easier to remember than a new prop, backwards?


Jason Pon on (BONUS) The Power of Chinese Characters: 生 shēng

Should we be putting time into learning characters actively
right now (including in Anki)? Or will this all be (re)introduced
in the next course?


John McCann on Pick a Prop 午

Since most of the characters thus far I know, and many are
words, I had to remind myself that not ALL CHARACTERS are stand
alone words. May seem obvious, but underscored the importance of
doing all of the work to make a CHARACTER recognizable with the
Hanzi Movie method!


Simon Mellor on Time to Get Real About Sentences

Just like Yasmin said, mind blown – the method is doing its

Just regarding the sentence “早上十点半我吃了一个半面包” what makes it one and
a half rather than just one half?


Gareth Edwards on Set the Scene -OU 6/13

On a side note I am starting to think I chose the wrong -an set
as the space for the kitchen in my work place was very small but
in the main work room. There was a table with microwave and all
that so can be distinguished. Do you think I should change the
set which I am reluctant to do at this stage. Most sets have not
been perfect unfortunately as in one doesn’t have a kitchen or
another doesn’t have a bathroom. Do I need to redo?


Alex Sumray on Walk in the park?! I’ve got 汉字 to study!

It’s rather addicting this shadowing thing isn’t it!?

Thanks again for a crackin’ course.


Aaron Braden on Nasal Final ENG Quiz

I get that the initial R is simple in theory but pronouncing it
not so easy. It’s nice when there’s an English word to compare
but I’m not able to reproduce the same sound every time not sure
what I’m doing wrong.


Irene Ong on MAKE A MOVIE 兑

Character #23: 兑 duì Set the Scene -EI 9/13. Can you confirm
why the set is not -ui?


GARRY GADSBY on The Drawbacks of Having Bad Pronunciation

Thank you for highlighting this, which I feel for me is
important so I can actually focus on doing it correctly in the
beginning rather than learn bad habits and realise it down the
track when it will be difficult to correct ?.


babes gutierrez on Unit 1 Wrap-Up

I have been wanting to learn Mandarin for the longest time but
never had the time to do it. Now, I have no excuse not to learn
from it. Watching the videos seem encouraging. There is a chance
for me ,never too late.


Barry Hill on MAKE A MOVIE 口

Hi, can you help me please? I chose the outback for – ou (being
Australian). How is related to the movie I made?


Alex Sumray on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 好看

Hi there,

Would someone mind breaking ‘我想过去看看她好不好看’ this down for me

My brain can’t seem to comprehend quite so many 看 and 好’s in one


Alex Sumray on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 对…来说

Does omitting the 对 alter the meaning of these sentences much
Xie xie.


Della Fuller on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 名字

Yes, “你叫什么名字?” was definitely in the first chapter of my Chinese
textbook at the University of British Columbia, but after a year,
I could probably write less than ten characters. As soon as the
quiz was over, they just went out of my head…nothing to hang on
to. Now I just think of samurai swords and Rolling Stones


Alex Sumray on It’s a Word! 完

Hi there,

May i ask what the function of the 也
is in the sentence: 你写完了的话,也可以过来和我一起玩儿。?



Alex Sumray on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 安全

..sorry, also confused with this one.


So it’s like saying;
This appears to be again* fast and again safe, dui ma?
*read – at once ..and at once..


Alex Sumray on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 宝宝

So 宝 is treasure.
And 宝宝 is baby.
Am I reading into that etymology as beautifully as it seems?

53:32 Movies! 

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

Della Fuller on Make a Movie 匕

Bella is in the livingroom of my childhood home. She is
practicing martial arts with her hook and Samurai sword. She is
whipping them around and smashing them together so hard that they
are heating up and beginning to soften. Finally, when she smashes
them together one more time they meld and become an ANCIENT
SPOON. She shrugs her shoulders and uses it to eat some soup.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 比

My niece Bella is in the livingroom of my childhood home. She is
very hungry, and a pot of her favourite soup sits in front of her
on the coffee table. There are two ladles beside the pot. She
picks them up and COMPARES the two ladles, then decides to put
the smaller one down and to use the larger one to scoop the
delicious soup into her bowl more quickly.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 它

Tom Cruise is standing in front of a table outside of my
daughter Olivia’s apartment. There is a large soup pot in front
of him with a lid on IT, and he has a ladle in his hand. Behind
him, there is a banner that reads, “This is IT! The best soup you
have ever tried. Come try IT!” He keeps yelling, “People, this is
IT! The best soup you have ever tried!” People are lined up down
the block to try IT.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 名

Michelle Obama is in the front lobby of my “eng” set with an owl
on her shoulder. She has sunglasses on, and is trying to keep a
low profile. The Rolling Stones mouth is being his usual annoying
self, asking her, “What’s your NAME? What’s your NAME?” Michelle
nods at the owl and he flies over to the mouth, picking it up and
depositing it in the large garbage can nearby.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 歹

Donald Trump is sitting in my h”ai”rdresser’s chair. When she
walks away to mix up the colour for his hair, an owl flies in,
with a razor blade in its beak, and lands in front of him. Donald
looks around carefully, and when he sees that no one is watching,
he takes the razor and scratches into the mirror, “Barack Obama
is the WICKED one, it’s all his fault!” He then sits back down
again and tries to look innocent when the hairdresser returns.
She looks shocked and confused. He just shrugs his shoulders, but
has a WICKED grin on his face. He takes a picture with his phone
and quickly tweets it out to America.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 死

Steve Martin is sitting in the livingroom of my childhood home.
The Wicked Witch of the West is stirring a potion with her ladle,
cackling away. Steve seems paralyzed, unable to move, and his
eyes are wide with fear. Finally, the witch scoops up a ladle
full of her noxious potion and brings it over to Steve. “Time to
DIE” she giggles, and pours it into his mouth. Steve coughs,
twitches a little, and then DIES, slumping over sideways onto the


Abigail on Make a Movie 苦

My actor is sitting in the living room of my childhood home,
watching a documentary on the Sphinx while tasting a very BITTER
elderflower cordial (made with a vintage flower). I can imagine
the disgusted look on her face!


Alex Sumray on Make a Movie 寄

My Ji actor in my childhood bathroom.

She and Eleven (from stranger things) decide Eleven needs to go
and fight the Demogorgon once and for all.

She puts chain mail round her, followed by a helmet (which just
so happens to be a cooking pan lid, all they had to hand

Ji actor then puts Eleven in a big envelope and labels – mail to
the Upside Down. Licks the stamp and goes off to mail the letter
.. and in doing so, save the world (..or at least my bathroom as
far as this scene concerned).


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 首

Sean Connery is on the basketball court at the Oval (my
community centre), because he is the very enthusiastic and
emotional HEAD coach of the local basketball team – the Vikings.
He wears a Viking helmet, which is lucky, because every time one
of the players makes a mistake, Sean shakes his HEAD and slaps
his forehead, but the helmet protects him. Every time he thinks
the referee makes a mistake, he holds his nose, to show how
little he thinks of their officiating. This game is not going
well, so the slaps to the HEAD and the nose pinching is keeping
Sean busy.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 道

Donald Trump is in the backyard of my “ao” set, furiously
tweeting, because he is lost. He can’t find the PATH back to the
airport, and back to Washington, D.C. Nearly Headless Nick is
frantically trying to get his attention, pointing towards the
obvious PATH beside the house, with a sign pointing towards the