A critical point to understand even with basic mandarin, is that chinese is different from the other phonetic languages. Indeed, Chinese characters only has one syllabus. In order to have a good sense of rhythm, Chinese words, phrases and idioms are always made of two or 4 characters. Therefore, Chinese words or phrases often have double syllables or 4 syllables. There are few ways to form a Chinese word, phrase and idiom.
Table of Contents
1. The formats of the Chinese words in basic mandarin phrases
1.1. Duplicate the same character
The first way to form a basic mandarin word is to duplicate the same character to form a new word. This new word mostly has the same meaning as the single character. However, by duplicating it, it not only sounds more melodious, but it also emphasizes the meaning of the original single character.
大大Dàdà,、小小xiǎo xiǎo， 大(Dà) or 小 (xiǎo) itself means “big” or “small”, by duplicating it, the new words still mean big or small.
Tā yǒu yīgè dàdà de fángzi
He has a big house
If we put 大Dà and 小Xiǎo together to form we get a new word, “大大小小Dà dàxiǎo xiǎo”, that describes the situation as both big and small.
Dà dàxiǎo xiǎo de chē dōu kěyǐ tíng zài tíngchē chǎng
Big or small cars can all park in the parking lots
1.2. Put two characters having the same meanings
The second way to form a word is by putting two characters that have the same meaning together. The new expression will also have the same meaning as its single counterparts.
◼︎ 安静 (Ānjìng), both 安Ān and 静jìng mean quiet, by putting them together, the new word also means quiet.
◼︎ 安安静静 Ān ānjìng jìng also means quiet. By duplicating, it not only emphasizes the meaning, it also sounds more lyrical.
◼︎ 寒冷（Hánlěng）, both 寒Hán and 冷lěng mean cold, and putting these two characters together, the new word “寒冷” also means cold.
1.3. Put two characters having the opposite meanings
Chinese also like to put two characters that have the exact opposite meanings to form a new word. The later normally describes a situation that covers both meaning.
◼︎ “买Mǎi” means “buy “, and “卖Mài” means sell, to put them together, the new word means “trade” or “business” which often time covers the activities of “buying” and “selling”.
◼︎ 买卖人 Mǎimài rén means a person who is doing the trading business. It therefore describes a business person. Another word in Chinese which also means business person is “生意人Shēngyì rén”。“做生意Zuò shēngyì” means doing business.
1.3.2. 阴阳 （Yīnyáng)
“阴Yīn” means cloudy, female, north side etc. “阳Yáng” means sunny, sun, male or south side etc. If a person has a balanced “阴” and “阳” in his body, the person is healthy. On the other hand, an unhealthy person, according to the traditional Chinese medicine, more often than not has an unbalanced “ 阴” and “阳”.
1.3.3. 多少 (Duōshǎo)
多Duō” means more, “少Shǎo” less. “多少Duōshǎo” is mostly put together in a question sentence and means “how much”.
Zhè bǎ yǐzi duōshǎo qián？
How much is this chair?
Zhè dùn fàn huāle duōshǎo qián
How much does it cost for this meal?
1.3.4. 出 (Chū)
”出Chū” means exit and “入Rù” means entrance. However, “出入Chūrù” together means “mistake”, especially in accounting scenario.
Gōngsī de zhàngmù yǒu chūrù
The company’s accounting records do not tally.
1.3.5. 是 (Shì)
“是Shì” means yes and “ 非Fēi” means no. “好Hǎo” means good and “坏Huài” means bad. “对Duì” means right and “错Cuò”means wrong. Chinese people like to put these characters together.
Fùmǔ yīnggāi jiàoyù háizi shénme shì hǎo huài hé shìfēi duì cuò
Parents need to teach their kids what are the good and bad, what are right and wrong
2. A few important Adverbs
2.1.1. “很” (hěn)
“很” (hěn) is a common character which means “very”. It can be used to describe any adjective words.
i.e. 水很烫 Shuǐ hěn tang (the water is very hot），
我很好 Wǒ hěn hǎo (I’m very good)，
天气很坏 Tiānqì hěn huài (the weather is very bad).
我很喜欢花 Wǒ hěn xǐhuān huā（I like flower very much).
2.1.2. “更” (Gèng)
“更Gèng” is an adverb that describes the situation at a higher level than “很Hěn”.
Zhège yǐnliào hěn tián, nàgè yǐnliào gèng tián.
This drink is sweet, that drink is sweeter.
Jīntiān tiānqì bù tài hǎo, míngtiān tiānqì huì gèng huài.
Today’s weather is bad, tomorrow’s weather will be worse.
2.1.3. “最” (Zuì)
“最Zuì” is the adverb that describes a situation at the highest level.
Zuótiān hěn rè, jīntiān gèng rè, míngtiān huì zuì rè.
Yesterday was very hot, today is hotter and tomorrow will be the hottest.