chinese vocab mnemonics

113. Chinese Vocab Mnemonics

Podcast Duration: 01:14:24

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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.

113. Chinese Vocabulary Mnemonics

0:00 Vocab Mnemonics Sheet

7:45 Comments & Emails

Kate Gans by Community

This sentence didn’t have a tag so I’m not sure what level it is from:

I’m not returning home today now. 

How do we know this doesn’t mean “I did not return home today”


Chris Lewis on Make a Movie 爱

I absolutely love this course. The imagery is very creative.

Everytime I see a character on a sign, I instantly recognise what prop I’ve learned, even if I don’t know the character, yet. Keep up the great work guys. I’m loving my memory


Lance Kaufman on MAKE A MOVIE 介

I have trouble recalling whether components touch, cross, or float. I am starting to incorporate a levitating or “magnetic field” special effect in my scenes to help distinguish this. In this scene, the umbrella is floating on above the sword and staff.


Micaela Ellison on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 活动

Can you give some context to how the first example might be used? It sounds like someone would be asking about what events were scheduled during the Olympics, or maybe what activities are scheduled at camp. But it wouldn’t be used to ask about what someone has scheduled for the day, as in errands, meetings, etc.
Or could it be?




What events are there today?

Top-Down Words:

今天 jīntiān – today
有 yǒu – to have, possess


Lucy Haley on MAKE A MOVIE 四

Can you use the bathroom and the backyard for different scenes? For example, one word with the null set is in the bathroom whereas this one is in the backyard?


Lance Kaufman on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 一点(儿), 一点点, 早点

For some of my word images I adding a custom image by having my daughter do a pose/action, fun way to bring in the family. As a side note, my daughter is 3 and has good mandarin comprehension, but spoke mostly in English, even with grandparents who don’t speak English. But since I started studying last month her Mandarin expressive vocabulary has grown exponentially.


Micaela Ellison on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 一会儿

Can 我们休息一会儿吧 also be translated as “let’s rest in a moment”?



Lucy Haley  on It’s a Word! 气

Off topic, but are there any cool cultural connectors as to why air is regarded as ‘to make angry’ ?


Lucy Haley on Casting Call f- 21/55

Hey! I was just wondering how many characters is a solid aim for someone to be trying to learn a day? For example I have an hour in the morning dedicated to Mandarin (the best). The first 15-20ish mins are all Anki and revision, so I’m left with 40-45mins for character building. Do you have any advice?


William Beeman on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 老公

Hi–we now have several terms for husband (and wife), liken 丈夫, 先生 as well as this one: 老公. Can you sort them out? This one looks sort of odd to me, like “old honorable” or something like that.

When would you use these different terms?

丈夫 – 妻子 qīzi
先生 – 太太 (女士 nǚshì)
老公 – 老婆 lǎopo


Jack on It’s a Word! 斤

you may have already fixed this in an updated deck– the translation for the 3rd sentence on the card says “It’s not healthy to eat a half-kilo of *pork*.”





It’s not healthy to eat a half-kilo of meat/pork.

Top-Down Words:

健康 jiànkāng – healthy

牛肉 niúròu – beef
羊肉 yángròu – mutton

Follow-up Question:

谢谢! Does I don’t eat any type of meat = 我 不 吃任何 种 肉 ?

Follow-up Answer:



Prentiss Rhodes on BONUS: Don’t Try to Figure Out Chinese Learning ON YOUR OWN!

I am happy that I finally signed up for the MB system. I too, tried one of the popular repetition programs, used other apps, and spent a lot of money a remote training program based in China and I’m a year into my Mandarin study. It has been a little frustrating.

In the couple of weeks that I have been using the MB resources, I have noticed improvement. My Mandarin future is looking positive


Alex Sumray on Vocab Unlocked from 烈

Is there a difference in how 热烈 and 热情 are used?

The latter potentially used more as an adjective, the former perhaps an adverb?


Lucy Haley on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 认识

Hi! Just confirming – this is to recognize AND know (someone) whereas the first half of this character is only to recognize something ?


William Beeman on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 记者

in 以前是一名记者 would a person really use 名 as a measure word to refer to one’s self? If it is respectful term, wouldn’t it be used toward others as a respectful reference?


Nacho En on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 高兴

Is there any difference between 开心 and 高兴?

高兴 gāoxìng

Wǒ tīng le yyǐhòu hěn bù gāoxìng
When I heard it I was very unhappy.

开心 kāixīn

Érzǐ shēnghuó de hěn kāixīn
Son lives a happy life.

Bié ná tā kāixīn.
Don’t make fun of him!

幸福 xìngfú

Noun: Happiness

rénrén dōu zhuīqiú xìngfú.
Everyone chases happiness.

快乐 kuàilè

shēngrì kuàilè
Happy Birthday!

愉快 yúkuài

旅途愉快 lǚtú – journey
Have a pleasant trip/Bon Voyage!

zhù nǐ jīntiān guòde yúkuài
Have a great day!

欢乐 huānlè

欢乐的景象 jiňgxiàng – scene
欢乐的气氛 qìfēn – atmosphere
欢乐的人群 rénqún – crowd
欢乐谷 gǔ – valley


Jason Pon on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 这么

Looking at the sentences, it seems like this word is very versatile.

Also – wondering if 这么 and 这样 are similar/interchangeable for the meaning of ‘this way’. Could 他这么做让我认为他太坏了 also be expressed as 他这样做让我认为他太坏了?


1:04:15 Movies! 

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

Ann Bihari on Make a Movie 张

keyword – to stretch
actor – johnny depp
set – granma’s house (she loves angels)
room – outside front gate
props – bow, giraffe

Johnny Depp is approaching granma’s house and sees a giraffe STRETCHING its neck to try to reach the last apple at the top of the tree, but the giraffe can’t quite reach it. Johnny happens to be carrying a bow and quiver of arrows, he takes one out, STRETCHES the bow string taut and with careful aim, shoots the apple so that it falls to the ground. The giraffe now STRETCHES his legs wide and is able to eat the apple. Johnny thinks no one will believe his story as it is quite a STRETCH for the imagination, but decides to tell granma anyways because she’s always up for a good story.


Will R on Make a Movie 山

KEYWORD: 山 shān Mountain
Actor: Sean Connery
Set: -an
Room within Set (tone): Front door
Prop(s): 山 (This is a simple pictograph of a mountain)

Make a movie:
1. Sean Connery at -an’s Front door
2. Sean Connery looks over to the Mountain he is going to climb
3. Sean then turns his head realising he was looking at the wrong
Mountain and now looks the the bigger Mountain next to it
4. Sean then again turns his head realising he was again looking
at the wrong Mountain and now looks the the biggest Mountain in
the row
5. Sean Connery feels too old for anyone of these Mountains (山)

(This scene is a parody of the Simpson’s “King Of The Hill” Episode. I think it is very fitting because Homer looks at 3 long Mountains and the prop has 3 long lines going upwards. You can watch the clip I am referencing.


Will R on Make a Movie 亦

KEYWORD: 亦 yì Armpits
Actor: Yi-
Set: -Ø childhood home
Room within Set (tone): Bathroom
Prop(s): 亦 (This is a pictograph of a guy with sweaty and smelly

Make a movie:
1. Yi- at -Ø childhood home’s Bathroom
2. Austin Powers walks in with very hairy Armpits (亦)
3. Austin Powers says: “Got any Spray for my Armpits baby?”
4. Yi- can’t stand his hairy Armpits and bashes him into Orbit

亦 Prop = Austin Powers or Spray


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 视

Sean Connery is in the backyard of my childhood home, which happens to be very near to a football stadium. Sean would much rather be at the game, so he is WATCHing the stadium scoreboard through his telescope, so he can keep up with his team’s performance.


Georg Lohrer on Make a Movie 各

Gregor Gysi ( a German politician – rather small but with great rhetorics) enters the bathroom of my e-set. Wow, it’s so crowded.

In front there is the sloth and then the “Big Mouth”. Gregor shouts: “I need to go to the toilet now!”. The “Big Mouth” turns around and shouts back: “Stand still. EACH one will get in front!”


Stephanie Arapian on Make a Movie 安

Jackie Chan is practicing his moves (very intense and impressively) with a garbage can lid as a shield for a phantom foe [outside the entrance of -an]. Marilyn Monroe exits the building, sees him and watches.

Jackie catches sight of her and freezes in place – the garbage lid goes flying, landing on the ground, coming to a stop round and round slowly and Jackie comes to attention.

Marilyn picks up the garbage lid, places it on Jackie’s head and pats his faces teasingly – “AT EASE, soldier.”

He stares after her as she walks away, garbage lid still on his head


Will R on Make a Movie 草

KEYWORD: 草 cǎo Grass
Actor: C-
Set: -ao
Room within Set (tone): Living room
Prop(s): 艹 (Rose), 早 (Random Person waking up)

Make a movie:
1. C- at -ao’s Living room
2. Random Person waking up (早) is tired still
3. C- grabs a Rose (艹) and puts to to the Random Person waking up’s face to wake him up better
4. Random Person waking up is so overwhelmed by the smell of the Rose
5. So overwhelmed so that he leaps out the Living room window onto the lawn’s Grass, and starts smelling the Grass (草)
6. C- says to Random Person waking up: “Does the smell of damp Grass help wash away the overwhelming Rose smell?”

10 November, 2020