83. How to Use 为 wèi in Mandarin Chinese

欢迎光临! Welcome!

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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.

0:00 GW-Relator-For-介词-为

When I was a kid, the word “preposition” made my brain shut off. There was (and still is) something about linguistic jargon that aggravated me because it always felt so pointless. 

When I started learning about Chinese grammar, I came across the word 介词 jiècí – ‘preposition,’ but instead of my brain shutting off, I suddenly realized that prepositions are “relators.” 介 is the main character in the word “介绍 jièshào – to introduce.” Another way to conceptualize “introducing” is “to create a new relationship.” Now, the idea of a ‘proposition’ wasn’t so scary. They’re mere ‘relators’!

That’s why, in The Mandarin Blueprint Method, we refer to prepositions as “relators.” All sentences that contain a preposition will be marked with the tag “GW-Relator.” 

How do people, places, things, events, etc., relate to each other? Is someone doing something “for” someone else? How about “to” them? What’s the origin “from” one thing to another, or distance “from” two places? We’ll discuss all of these and more in our “GW-Relator” lessons.

Sentence 1:            

我要为你做饭。 – Level 16
Wǒ yào wéi/wèi nǐ zuòfàn. 
I’ll cook for you.

As usual, the action goes at the end of the sentence in the Chinese version. Bear in mind that 为 tends to have a slightly more formal feeling when used in this way. A less formal relator that often appears in the same structure is “给 gěi,” i.e., “我要给你做饭.” You’d likely use 给 if it were a couple of friends talking and one offers to cook the other dinner. If you were speaking to a professional contact, you’d be more likely to use 为.

Sentence 2:

为我们的友谊干杯! – Level 16
Wèi/Wéi wǒmen de yǒuyì gānbēi!
A toast to our friendship!

One way to think of “formality” is as systemized sincerity. When people are using formal language, part of what they’re communicating is that they’re taking the situation seriously (except for satirical comedy). 

In the context of this sentence, the person making the toast uses “为” because they wish to convey sincerity.

Sentence 3:

为了身体好,我们每天都要走一走。 – Level 15
Wèile shēntǐ hǎo, wǒmen měitiān dōu yào zǒu yi zǒu.
We walk around every day for our health.

为了 has a slightly different structure and usage compared to “为” by itself. However, its definition of “for the sake of” or “in order to” gets across the same idea. There are two main ways to use it:

1. 为了 + Goal + Way of Reaching the goal

2. Way of Reaching Goal + 是 shì + 为了 + Goal

The sentence above uses the first structure, but you could change it in the following way:

我们每天都要走一走是为了身体好。

Structure one is more common, but look out for both moving forward.  
Keep your eye our for 为 as you move forward, and as always, remember that these lessons are for noticing while inputting, not for filtering yourself while outputting.


6:49 Miscellaneous

Kimchiman1000 on YouTube

Great presentation, Phil! I’ll be sharing this on my Facebook page. I don’t know where the cards will land in my case, but I’m shooting for a minimum of 40 hours per week, and up to 60 if I can manage it. It’s a challenge to keep other things at bay while I do so, but I believe the payoff as such will be well worth it.

Time will tell, one way or another.

And a side note here for anyone who has watched this video: if you’ve been looking for the ‘ultimate’ system for learning Mandarin Chinese, you’ve found it. The MBM is the real deal; I’ve personally never seen anything else like it – not even a little bit like it. I’ve been doing it for about a month now, mostly just part time at first, and am astonished by how quickly I am learning by using this method. Believe me when I tell you: if I can do this, you can too. I’m far from being a linguistic genius, but the MBM makes me feel almost like one!

Consider what the course costs, and consider the return on your investment (assuming you are willing to put in the time and effort). Then consider what any other Chinese language courses (with all due respect to many of them) have to offer, and what they cost, and how far they can take you (and they typically can’t take you beyond a basic to low intermediate level, short of spending a lot of money and time one on one with tutors, which has a legitimate place, in and of itself, in the right context).

Between you and me, when I consider what I’m getting in return for the rather meager fee I’m paying for this course, I’ll go so far as to say it’s almost free when you consider what you get in return.

I’m glad they don’t charge more for the course, but I won’t hesitate to say here that they could charge five times or more than they currently do, and you would still be getting fair value for it.

So jump in why dontcha! 😎

10:55

John Morrison by Email

Thank you so much for this incredible study. I have learned so much from it and I will continue to study it all the way through. I am using the Hanzi method to remember new characters. This is truly an amazing day for me because I am learning so much. Mandarin Blueprint rocks!

12:22

Lukas Chin by Community

Hi All!

Any good TV shows in Mandarin anyone recommends? Or, I remember Luke mentioning video games in Chinese he played, any recommendations?

14:58

Faraz by Community

Hi All!

Question about actors: Should you always use their first name for the letter or can you sometimes use their last name? In particular, I’m considering athletes who are often better known by their last names than their first names (e.g. NBA fans usually call Kevin Garnett just Garnett). On the other hand, it might be confusing looking back on it in the future and trying to figure out if you were using their first name or their last name. Thoughts?

17:07

Eleanor Todd by Community

Hi folks! 

I’m having a great time with MB and finding it very efficient. I’ve hired a tutor on iTalki to help with my pronunciation and while that’s been great, it’s in-efficient that she’s not well aware and integrated with the MB course material.

Are there any known tutors who are specifically trained to help out with MB?

18:55

Natalia Kovalenko on BONUS VIDEO: The 6 Types of Chinese Character (Part 3 of 3)

It absolutely blows my mind when I think of how much time, effort, and passion you two put into this program. Wow! It’s so engaging, I have a hard time taking a break from it. Could seriously do this all day long!!!

20:59

Al (泰光) Roy (王) on BONUS: Build on What You ALREADY KNOW to Learn Chinese

This is definitely working for me. I’ve known several of the
characters (perhaps several dozen) for a few decades(albeit with
Korean pronunciation), but this system is allowing me to make
real progress, and it feels like I’m making very rapid progress.
The sentence in the previous lesson (or two) back, ‘I understand
your meaning, but I don’t agree.’ … it was actually a bit of a
thrill to just sit down, look at it, read it, and UNDERSTAND it.

I’m done with my studies for the day (except for the Anki, which
I will do tonight.). So now I’m going to go find my wife and tell
her, ‘我知道你的意思只是不同意’.

22:37

MICHAEL ROTCHFORD on ANKI DECKS INSIDE – Now Just LOOK at how SOLID that Foundation Is!

I’m not sure exactly how long it took me to get here, but hey,
who’s counting? Really it feels like I just got my toes wet and I
can tell the water’s warm and now I am ready to jump all in!

Like Pablo, I sure wish I could do this full time and I know my
speaking is really my weakest link and am still not up to par in
my listening comprehension but I know that day by day it will
continue to improve.

I am totally blown away at how much I’ve learned these last few
months and the total day by day fun I have had in this course.
You make me feel like a rock star and THANK YOU!

26:18

Al (泰光) Roy (王) on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 目的

Unbelievable just how efficient this method is for cementing all
the salient points of each character into my mind! The entire
eyeball movie takes place in a matter of a second or two in my
mind, and BOOM, it’s done! Easy peasy!

My wife walked in on me as I was just learning this last
character, so I tried to explain to her how it works. “That’s
just SILLY!” said she. That’s EXACTLY why it works. I know I’m
just preaching to the choir here, but it’s a minor thrill each
time I manage to internalize a new character. And as I type these
words, with the COVID-19 pandemic going around, it also serves to
help take one’s mind somewhat from looming worries about what the
future holds.

But in any case, y’all have really put together something that is
quite wonderful. Of course you already know that, but I just
wanted to say it

29:03

Phill Challinor on Level 2 Complete

Loving this! Well done to you two for coming up with this!

29:26

Rick Angleland on It’s a Word! 行

行 meaning “row” – does this refer to a line of any physical objects? people? columns and rows in a spreadsheet? I’m looking for an image but want to make sure I get it correct.

31:45

Jeffrey Herzog on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 目的

I am sure it will be discussed especially after character 105 but i was wondering when do I use Bang and when do I use Bang Zhu and why? thanks!

帮 bāng – to help
帮忙 bāngmáng – to help with something
帮助 bāngzhù – to help or (n.) help

34:02

Al (泰光) Roy (王 on It’s a Word! 看

你看她这个人好吗

That’s an interesting way to use the word 看.

34:45

Neil on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 老外

so is 老外 a bit more polite or friendly than 外國人 (if talking about a foreigner vs to a foreigner)

36:27

Ija on Vocab Unlocked from 黄

A few interesting non-HSK words related to 黄

黄牛 yellow cow – ticket scalpers

小黄 – little yellow – what taxis are called in Taiwan

小黄人 – not Taiwan taxi drivers. Take a guess.

Then Google it for an interesting surprise 🙂

38:11

Al (泰光) Roy (王) on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 十几

For anyone who may struggle to grasp 十几, maybe this will help, if it hasn’t already been covered elsewhere. Think of it like saying ‘ten something’ in English. “I’ve lived in China now for, it must be ten something years.” Maybe not an exact analogue of the form, but maybe enough to get you over the hump.

I’m fortunate that Korean has the exact same form, so it’s more like learning a new sound than a new concept for me.

39:33

Neil on Make a Movie 试

are there not a lot of characters that use 式 as an element or prop? or are they not that common?

40:23

John McCann on Moving Forward: Shadowing

What do you think of ASSIMIL?? IS It current and up to date? How is their Mandarin? I notice they have “audio” CDS, I will have to find a cd player. Am having problems with Anki, but Alexander Arguelles in his shadowing video, speaks highly of Assimil. It is available on Amazon.

Advice please?

42:00

Thomas lancer on The Final “Fake i” SI: 四 sì

So With the “si” it is pronounced with the fake “i” still? So like “srrr”?

43:13

Al (泰光) Roy (王) on ANKI DECK(S) INSIDE – Level 12 Complete

A very helpful aspect of this system (not telling you anything you don’t already know, I’m sure) is that I’ve noticed that if I struggle to recall a new character that’s been run through a 汉字 movie, I can go back and replay the movie in my mind. When I do that, at times I find that when I replay it, I find that I may have overlooked a certain component, such as perhaps the part that gives it the meaning. Turns out that it’s a relatively simple matter to quickly update the movie and get back on track.

Good times!

45:12

Christopher on Pick a Prop 半

Should I use the same prop for the character and the component? Or is it better to use a different prop for each? Right now I’ve chosen a half pint of beer for the character and I’m also using the same prop for the component. What is the best practice here? Can you give me some guidance? I can’t be the first to have asked this question, right? haha

47:38

Steven Williamson on Compound Final EI: 谁 shéi,她是谁 tā shì shéi?

So, essentially Mandarin is the same as English with regards to What’s this?/ What is this?

49:10

Yasmin Guendouzi on Pick a Prop 千

So, when I think of 1000, the word millennium instantly comes to mind. When Y2k happened, the millennium celebration was huge, there was the scare of the millennium bug, and then even more of an association with millennium is the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars. For me 1000/Millennium is a really strong connection, so would using the Millennium Falcon be okay?

49:56

Doug Casey on Mandarin Tones: 5th Tone

Near the end of the video you pointed out that the question word “ma” is almost always high. This makes me feel a bit better about something that’s been tripping me up. I finished Unit 2 but was feeling a little frustrated during my the Anki card work. Some cards were taking me a while to review because I was trying to get my tones and rhythm to match the recorded examples using what I thought the tone rules were. Five cards took me between 20 and 30 minutes one day. In particular, I was trying to force “ma” to always be contrary to the previous syllable, such as in “nǐ è le ma”. I thought it usually sounded like “ma” was high, but I was forcing myself to hear and speak it as low when following “le”. I also find myself wanting to say “me” instead of “ma”, but I guess that’s a different matter.

I am glad I decided to watch back through these Unit 1 videos. Working back through the Unit 2 videos with focused practice on each of the examples and Anny’s videos starts tomorrow.

53:02 Movies! 

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

Chad Ressler on Make a Movie 出

Location: Childhood Home [Outside the Entrance]

Actor: Chewbacca

Props: 2 Mountains

I’m moving out of my childhood home and Han Solo and Chewbacca are helping me. The last thing to pack are two decorative replicas of mountains on my front porch. They are stacked one of top of the other and are too heavy for Han and I to pick up. Chewbacca can carry them, but he won’t come back outside for some reason. Han asks if I want to learn some Shryiiwook (Chewbacca’s language), and I agree. He teaches me a few grunts and growls and has me say them to Chewbacca who slowly comes outside, finally, and carries the mountain replicas to the truck. Han tells me that he just taught me how to say “Exit” which is the literal translation, but it just means “come outside” to Chewie.

55:05

Deborah Driscoll on Make a Movie 钟

Yeah so just to clarify I chose my friend Charlotte (who is also my lazy person prop) drinking a bottle of golden gin as the prop for 金 when it is squashed to the side (as in 钟) because the top 2 strokes look like a small version of the lazy prop! So I imagine her lying down drinking a huge bottle as the whole prop! It just reminds me how this version of jin should look! So her drinking the gin/jin is the prop. Sounds complicated but it makes sense to me, especially as she loves gin in real life 🤣🤫

56:46

Chad Ressler on Make a Movie 岁

Location: Faith Inn (former office) [Backyard]

Actor: Shao Feng (character from the movie Swordmaster)

Props: Mountain and Bat

I’m leaving work and I use the back exit. As I walk out to the back lot, there stands the great swordmaster Shao-Feng. He tells me that he has learned of my interest in China and wants to show me the history of his clan, the greatest swordmasters in all of China. Suddenly there is a great darkness and we are transported to a snow-covered mountain in China. As we enter a cave located deep inside the mountain, I see bats hanging upside down sleeping. Shao Feng shines a light on the wall of the cave and there is a history drawn on the wall of all his ancestors with numbers above them. I ask him what all the numbers mean, and he tells me that those are ages at which they were granted Master swordsman status.

58:45

Neil on Make a Movie 片

Could also be a body builder on one knee, flexing a bicep (his way of proposing?)

59:22

Ija on Make a Movie 微

Keyword : Miniature
Actor : Wall-E outside the entrance of my -EI set
Props : Ip-Man (彳), Mountain, Razor Blade, Table, Tap Dancer

Wall-E did not know how the world looked like before it was
destroyed by humans, so Ip Man reconstructed a miniature model of
the earth for him.

He first carved out mountains using a razor blade on a small
table, just outside of the entrance of my EI set.

Wall-E was in awe of the details of the model and Ip-Man reminded
him to take care of the new earth in every possible way (无微不至).

Suddenly a tap dancer dropped from the sky, landed on the model,
and destroyed it into tiny, microscopic pieces.

1:01:51

Chad Ressler on  Make a Movie 果

Location: Joey and Erin’s House (Living Room)
Actor: Guan Hongfeng (Main character from the Chinese show “Day
and Night”)
Props: Rubik’s Cube and Tree

I’m visiting my in laws and we are all hanging out in their
living room. Guan Hongfeng has come from China to visit us as
well. I tell him that my Rubik’s cube got stuck on the top of my
in laws apple tree. He says he may be able to help and goes
outside and fashions himself a boomerang. We sit in the living
room and watch as he throws the boomerang at the top of the tree
trying to hit the Rubik’s cube. However, he keeps missing and we
watch all these apples falling down on the ground. Since he can’t
seem to hit it, he gathers up all the apples and makes us an
apple pie.

1:03:27

Al (泰光) Roy (王) on Make a Movie 桌

Big tree standing right in front of the O set. A small sun is floating right over top of it. George Constanza waves a magic want, and the sun drops down onto the tree, transforming it into a table. Voila!

1:04:15

Deborah Driscoll on Make a Movie 汉

Harry my H actor is sitting in my ‘an’ bathroom playing with his yo-yo 🪀 又. I open the door on him armed with a hosepipe and squirt him right in the face! He looks shocked and asks my why I did that?! I now throw a CHINESE dictionary at him and shout “ You should be learning your CHINESE not playing with that damn yo-yo! “

1:05:08

Jeffrey Herzog on MAKE A MOVIE 代

I was wondering if you could give me your ideas on this scene and if there are some ways i could possibly make it stronger.

Actor: my friend Daniel

Props: chuck norris, Daryl dixon (the crossbow guy from the walking dead)

Set: backyard of the apt where my gf was living when we met

middle of zombie apocalypse, zombies are walking around, Daryl is teaching daniel how to kill zombies and survive. It’s daniel’s turn, Daryl hands him his crossbow but daniel tosses it aside to his right. He does a pokemon catcher pose and summons chuck norris in to Substitute. Chuck norris begins roundhouse kicking the zombies just in time. scene.