5 Weird Things to Get Used to While Learning Mandarin Chinese

I’m a software developer and product manager living and working in Shanghai. I work in a Chinese company and speak Chinese every day, but I am by no means a professional teacher. I just like learning and writing, and I wanted to point out a couple really strange concepts to get used to when learning Mandarin.

I also know that personally these all took me a while to grasp, so I hope that if you read these earlier in your studies, they might not be as confusing when you learn about them later.

1. Talking about 面子 (face)

Basically face is your social reputation among your friends, coworkers, and family. In China this is mentioned calculated, and considered much more than in America. There’s a couple terms around face that are really weird to get used to: “giving face”, “losing face,” “protecting face”, “fighting face”.

2. Everything has a direction 起来 下来 上来 掉

3. Thinking and missing 想 (xiang)

4. You have a problem with me? 问题 (wen’ti)

5. You say “play” all the time. 玩

I hope you enjoyed reading,

Follow me for more about Mandarin Chinese, software, and life in Shanghai.


Product Manager + Software Developer. Interested in Travel, Culture, and the Internet.

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