learn chinese grammar by yourself

129. Learn Chinese Grammar By Yourself

Podcast Duration: 01:33:45

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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.

129. Learn Chinese Grammar By Yourself

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4:03 Comments & Emails

Craig Cavanagh by Community


I recently finished the Intermediate Course and am trying to figure out what my next step should be. I’m hoping that someone else who finished can recommend things that they found most useful.

I started watching and reading stuff and making sentences a while ago so have been carrying on with that but I’d also like to start heading toward that 3000 character goal.

My issue is trying to decide what the appropriate characters and words are to learn. This is especially true of words, I often wonder if one is even worth learning when making sentences. Did people just start using the HSK lists as a framework or is there somewhere else that is better? A good Anki Deck for characters would be great and would save a lot of time but I’m happy making my own cards as I go.

I really liked to know that what I was learning would be quickly useful when following the MB course so would like to try and keep some of that efficiency when doing it myself.

Thanks a lot!



Jeff Bryant by Community

Hi there, I’m Jeff, in Alberta, Canada, I study and practice Chinese medicine and have made a few failed attempts at learning mandarin over the years. I’m hoping to be able to read some original texts without requiring the sometimes hard-to-find translations, deepen my understanding of the material, as well as communicate with new people here and abroad and see where it takes me.


Simon Robinson by Community

I am thinking out loud here and just wondering what sort of level would be required for reading Harry Potter. It is often mentioned as a gateway drug to reading in your target language especially when learning Spanish or French…..but for Chinese?. Is this something worth looking at after the intermediate course or is it something better left until the advanced course comes out? Eventually, I would love to read Frank Herberts Dune in Chinese but will settle for Harry as a first step towards that. 

On a side note, I had to reschedule my dental appointment today via phone (I am in Taiwan), normally if in person I think I would be able to get my point across though imagine it would have been a bit messy. But phone is always more tricky as no facial expressions etc, but to my surprise, it was super smooth. Everything was understood the first time for both me and them! I know a small thing and my wife was not too impressed but for me, a big difference so thank Mandarin Blueprint.


Nick Sims on Vocab Unlocked from 语: 口语 – 语言 – 汉语 – 语法

You know what is awesome about this? These Vocab Unlocked
totally makes sense just looking at the characters. There is some
serious building blocks happening in my brain and this language
that just is starting to make sense. Whoa!


Stelios Tigkas on BONUS: Stroke Order (Rule 12 of 12)

I’ve been trying to see if there is a unifying pattern underlying the stroke order, perhaps having to do with using the least energy possible while moving one’s pen? As an IT geek, my mind went to Dijkstra’s algorithm. Any similar thoughts from other students or Phil & Luke?


Nacho En on Cao Chong Weighs The Elephant 曹冲称象 – Full Story 90% Comprehension

I was focusing not only shadowing each story, but also studying step by step every sentence, but now it’s a bit overwhelming with all those stories, really interesting ones! but also overwhelming if I try to study every sentence of every story. Do you consider I need to keep the method I’ve been using until now (shadowing and then studying every sentence) or on the other hand if I just focus on shadowing, step by step I will understanding everything, so like that I would improve my study method?

Thank you Luke and Phil once more, you’re the best!


John Nomura on 这些 in Context

白人 can mean white people.
Can it also refer to a non-white person who is fair-skinned?


Rick Angleland on Vocab Unlocked from 份: 月份

The sample sentences I could find use this in two ways:
1) to refer to months as an object/noun e.g. 一个月份.
2) in the names of months e.g. 八月份 which can be abbreviated to 八月.


Thomas Brand on Vocab Unlocked from 要: 快要 – 主要 -想要 – 要是

Living link for 要是:

“If you WANT TO BE my lover, you gotta get with my friends” – Wannabe, The Spice Girls


Hank Elliott on Vocab Unlocked from 统

统. tong together
计 ji calculate or count
统计 tongji statistics

Aren’t statistics often only possible when we count stuff together?!!


Hank Elliott on Vocab Unlocked from 济

经济 jīng jì. Economy

I have known the Character 经 jīng as representing TCM Channels for a long time. 济 jì means aid. I see this word as Aiding the Flow of energy, money, goods, food, oil etc…and if you Aid the Flow it’s more ECONOMICAL. Or, an ECONOMY aids the flow of all goods and services.


Alex Sumray on Vocab Unlocked from 孙

I’m making this up as a go, but as 孙 seems to denote a grandson first and by adding 女 to it we change the meaning to granddaughter; does this suggest something historically about how boys and girls were seen in China?


Kevin Lee on 快 in Context

I tried to find this answer somewhere else on the website, but could not. Numbers. Why do we use Arabic-based numbers, used in Western languages, for sentences like 快10点了, instead of just using the Mandarin numbering system?


Oscar Haglund on 认真 in Context

And you can only teach them seriously page by page.
Top-Down Words:
教 jiāo – to teach”

Pretty sure this should be 4th tone


Roland Kofler on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 说话 – 电话

说话 how can one know if the tones are applied to the first or second vowel?

shu1o hua4 vs shuo1 hu4a ?


Pascal Brosinski on FLASHCARDS INSIDE – *MUST WATCH* How to Review with TMBM

When there are “Movie Review” cards that I easily recognize at this moment, is it recommended to still take the time and think about the movie in my mind again?

Like when I see the card for 十, I directly recognize it and know that it means 10 without thinking about the previously thought of movie.


Brendon Gittins on Pick a Prop 丷

Now having watched the video about making a prop for 半, I’m not sure that this is going to work. Luke notes that the props should be interactable not just an action (e.g. cutting something in half). My prop relies on the actor making this gesture, so should I rethink this prop?


Jeff Bryant on Vocab Unlocked from 以: 可以 -以为 -以上 – 以下

可以 – o-KE-YI do-KE-YI, -Ned Flanders while chewing (I’ve always known KeYi as meaning OK)
以为-HE AIn’t thinking right
以上-HE SANG higher than everyone
以下-HE SAW what’s downstairs


Ija on Vocab Unlocked from 导

Would be nice to have some cultural insights on the meaning of 三观。

价值观 jiàzhíguān
世界观 shìjièguān
人生观 rénshāengguān


Jeff Bryant on Vocab Unlocked from 开: 开心 – 开门 – 开会 – 打开

开心 – you’ll be happy to CASH IN that lottery ticket 开门 – Remember Kramer (aka K-MAN) from Seinfeld and how he always burst in the door?
开会 – You can meet a lot of people on a stucK HIGHWAY


Michelle Eason on 来 in Context

So I am about to begin level 13 – should I be perfectly familiar with all the words and characters before I begin? I know i rushed through some characters without really cementing them because i was having so much fun, so I don’t have perfect recall yet. Will that come as I do level 13 or should II drill everything in more first? Ive been stuck for a couple of weeks now just doing the anki but i feel like I’m losing ground.


Rick Angleland on Vocab Unlocked from 出: 出来 – 出去 – 出国 – 出发 – 出现

I just noticed:

出现 = to emerge and a word from earlier
发现 = to discover
So both happen in the now 现
The emerging object goes out 出
The discovering person is sent out 发


Alexander Greenwood on 我也想找男朋友

Expanding on the …又… …又… construction, is it possible to include more than two details? Say in this example if she had three traits that she was looking for in a boyfriend, would it be possible to use the …又… construction.

Also, in a similar vein though not directly related to the construction here, is it possible to use more than two 一边… when describing concurrent events?


William Beeman on Vocab Unlocked from 且: 而且 – 并且

Hi guys, Could you say a little more about the wider use of 并? It seems to have multiple functions, including being a seeming synonym for 和. Thanks!


Brennan Pimpinella on 关心 in Context

I am confused with the duplicated 关心 in this sentence.

Since 关心 means “care” in this sentence, does adding a second 关心
convey the word “also”.
关心 = care
关心关心 = also care

Does this work with other verbs like 吃, 用, 怕, etc.?


Kate Gans on 大小 in Context

What if in the first sentence you wanted to say “The size of a horse is bigger than a large person”

Would it be马的大小比大人大。
Or 马的大小比人大大。

1:24:38 Movies! 

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

Ric Santos on Make a Movie 亏

Ku-Actor is outside the entrance of -ei set. Superman logo =
prop for 丂.
Ku-actor heard a crash just outside the entrance of the -ei set.
He saw a drone blade (一)of Krypton that was hovering over Superman (丂). Superman was kept immobilzed on the ground.
Obviously he had a deficiency(亏) in energy due to Krypton.
Ku-actor hurriedly drove the drone away before Superman could
lose (亏)more energy.
Luckily (幸亏)for Superman, Ku-actor was quick enough before the
drone could sap him out completely.


Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 统

Keyword: Together
Actor: Tom Cruise
Set: My Gym
Room: Gym Floor with all the equipment
Props: 纟silk dress; 充 electrocuted baby

Tom Cruise runs onto the gym floor wearing a sexy Silk Dress and carrying a recently Electrocuted Baby. He desperately shouts to
all the gym bros and gals who are sweating and grunting in their
own socially distanced places. The gym bros saw the silk dress
and began looking the other way, when suddenly a gym gal
screeches that there is an Electrocuted Baby! Then TOGETHER all
the gym bros and gym gals worked as a team to save the baby’s


Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 齐

Key Word: Neat and Even
Actor: Maggy Q
Set: Childhood Home
Room: Kitchen
Props: 文 – Cultured Person (Jon Housman from the Paper Chase)

丨 – Fighting Staff

丿 – Sword

Maggy Q walks into the Kitchen of my Childhood Home to confront
Jon Housman and challenge him to battle. Jon in his stuck up
classy accent asks if he can use the SWORD and she use the STAFF
so that the battle will be fair and EVEN. Maggy agrees and
instantly defeats Jon since his sedentary life is no match to her
athleticism. The battle was actually quite un-EVEN!!


Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 清

keyword: CLEAR
Actor: Maggy Q
Set: Tolland Public Safety Complex ( E-ng = engine=firehouse)

This is kind of a twist on the usually Hanzi Movie method!

Prop: 清 questions in which the microphone stand has been replaced
by a fountain!
Maggy Q does a Television advertisement in which she states that
Sometimes QUESTIONS are much CLEARER in the front yard than they
are in the kitchen because microphones don’t always work and the
FOUNTAIN in the yard washes them CLEAR!


Nick Sims (戴燚)on Make a Movie 觉

Kakashi (ju-) is in the cafe at Barton (-e) scratching his head vigorously because something is picking at him. He grabs his magnifying glass (见), takes off his beanie (冖) and takes a closer look. He finds a fake eyelash (⺍) in his beanie; this is what made head FEEL so bad.


Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 酒

Actor: My Niece Jessica
Set: Sandisfield Ambulance meeting room
Props: 氵 hand held fountain, 酉 bottle of BaiJiu

Jessica is in the Meeting Room of Sandisfield Ambulance quickly trying to water down all the BOTTLES OF BAIJIU with her HANDHELD FOUNTAIN. She is quite religious and totally against drinking. So she was quite surprised when she tasted her work only to find that the bottles were even stronger in ALCOHOL than before!


Hank Elliott on Make a Movie 醒


Xena Warrior Princess is in the Meeting Room of the Firehouse trying to get her BABY to go to sleep. But because its broad DAYLIGHT and the SUNSHINE is too bright, she decides to give the BABY some BAIJIU. She then hums the following Haiku to her BABY.

I know the three lines aren’t really totally right. They are poetry not sentences! HAHA