Vocab Builder – Days, Time, Arranging Plans

Vocab Builder Numbers in Use (1) – Dates KEY PHRASES [...]
Vocab Builder Numbers in Use (1) – Dates
What day is it today? (today/what day)
Jin1tian1 xing1 qi1 ji3?
Today is Monday. (today/Monday)
Jin1tian1 xing1 qi1 yi1.
Week Xing1 qi1 星期
Monday Xing1 qi1 yi1 星期一
Tuesday Xing1 qi1 er4 星期二
Wednesday Xing1 qi1 san1 星期三
Thursday Xing1 qi1 si4 星期四
Friday Xing1 qi1 wu3 星期五
Saturday Xing1 qi1 liu4 星期六
Sunday Xing1 qi1 ri4 / tian1 星期日/天
What date is it today? (today/what date)
Jin1tian1 ji3 hao4?
Today is Nov 15 th , 2017 (today/is/2016 year/Nov/15 th)
Jin1 tian1 shi4 2017 nian2, 11 yue4, 15 hao4.
Month Yue4
Jan Yi1 yue4 一月
Feb (to Dec) Er4 yue4 二月
Year Nian2
Year 2017 Er4 ling2 yi1 qi1 nian2 2017 年
Vocab Builder Numbers in Use (2)– Time
What time is it now? (now/what/time)
Xian4 zai4 ji2 dian3 le?It’s 3 pm now. (now/3 o’clock)
Xian4 zai4 xia4 wu3 san1 dian3 le.
O’clock Dian3
Minutes Fen1
Half (30 mins) past Ban4
A quarter Yi1 ke4 一刻
10 o’clock Shi2 dian3 十点
10:05 Shi2 dian3 ling2 wu3 fen1 十点零五分
Quarter past 10 Shi2 dian3 yi1 ke4 十点一刻
7:50 Cha4 shi2 fen1 ba1 dian3
(lack 10 minutes to 8)
TIME OF DAY Morning zao3 shang4 早上
Afternoon xia4 wu3 下午
Evening wan3 shang4 晚上
TODAY/TOMORROW Today Jin1 tian1 今天
Tomorrow Ming2 tian1 明天
Yesterday Zuo2 tian1 昨天
Numbers in Use (3) – Making Plans
What time do you go to work? (you/what time/go to work)
Ni3 ji2 dian3 shang4ban1?
I go to work at 9.00. (I/9.00 o’clock/meeting)
Wo3 jiu3 dian3 shang4ban1
Are you free tomorrow at 2? (you/tomorrow/2 o’clock/free?)
Ni3 ming2 tian1 liang2 dian3 you3 kong4 ma?
Let’s go have coffee tomorrow. (we/together/drink coffee/suggestion)
Wo3 men2 yi1qi3 he1 ka1fei1 ba.
ACTIVITIES Go to work Shang4 ban1 上班
Finish work Xia4 ban1 下班
Get up Qi3 chuang2 起床
Have Chinese lessons Shang4 zhong1 wen2 ke4 上中文课
Watch movie Kan4 dian4 ying3 看电影
Sleep Shui4 jiao4 睡觉
Have a coffee He1 ka1fei1 喝咖啡
Have a meeting
(work meeting only)
Kai1 hui1 开会
MORE TIME PHRASES This week Zhe4 ge4 xing1 qi1 这个星期
THIS WEEK MONDAY This Monday Zhe4 ge4 xing1 qi1 yi1 这个星期一
Next week Xia4 ge4 xing1 qi1 下个星期
Next Monday Xia4 ge4 xing1 qi1 yi1 下个星期一
Last week Shang4 ge4 xing1 qi1 上个星期
Last Monday Shang4 ge4 xing1 qi1 yi1 上个星期一
THIS MONTH 2ND This month Zhe4 ge4 yue4 这个月
2nd this month Zhe4 ge4 yue4 er4 hao4 这个月二号
Next month Xia4 ge4 yue4 下个月
Last month Shang4 ge4 yue4 上个月
THIS YEAR MARCH This year Jin1 nian2 今年
This year March Jin1 nian2 san1 yue4 今年三月
Next year Ming2 nian2 明年
Last year Qu4 nian2
(or shang4 nian2)
DURATION One day Yi1 tian1 一天
One week Yi1 ge4 xing1qi1 一个星期
Two months Liang3 ge4 yue4 两个月
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Vocab Builder – Physical Traits

Vocab Builder Physical Traits KEY PHRASES She is tall. Ta [...]
Vocab Builder Physical Traits
KEY PHRASES She is tall.
Ta gao1 gao1 de. (她高高的.)
She is tall and skinny.
Ta1 you4 gao1 you4 shou4. 他又高又瘦.
Tall Gao1 gao1 de 高高的
Short Ai3 ai3 de 矮矮的
Fat Pang4 pang4 de 胖胖的
Skinny Shou4 shou4 de 瘦瘦的
KEY PHRASES Her hair is long.
Ta1 de tou2 fa3 chang2 chang2 de. (她的头发长长的.)
She has long hair.
Ta1 you3 chang2 chang2 de tou2 fa3. (她有长长的头发.)
She has big eyes.
Ta1 you3 da4 da4 de yan3jing1. (她有大大的眼睛)
Her eyes are big and blue.
Ta1 de yan3jing1 you4 da4 you4 lan2. (她的眼睛又大又蓝)
Long Chang2 chang2 de 长长的
Short Duan3 duan3 de 短短的
Curly Juan4 juan4 de 卷卷的
Straight Zhi2 zhi2 de 直直的
Blond Jin1 se4 de 金色的
Black Hei1 se4 de 黑色的
Big Da4 da4 de 大大的
Small Xiao3 xiao3 de 小小的
Blue Lan2 se4 de 蓝色的
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Vocab Builder – Action Verbs

Vocab Builder ACTION VERBS KEY PHRASES I want to go. [...]
Vocab Builder ACTION VERBS
KEY PHRASES I want to go.
Wo3 xiang3 qu4. (我想去)
Don’t go.
Bu4yao4 qu4. (不要去)
I need to go.
Wo3 yao4 qu4. (我要去)
Didn’t go.
Mei2you3 qu4. (没有去)
I can go.
Wo3 ke3yi3 qu4 . (我可以去)
Have been (as in gone, Present Perfect Tense of go).
Qu4 guo4. 去过
I can’t go.
Wo3 bu4 ke3yi3 qu4
Haven’t been (as in gone)
Mei2 (you3) qu4 guo4.
Return Hui2 (Qu4) 回(去)
Say shuo1
Write Xie3
Listen Ting1
Read (book, newspaper) Du2
Look Kan4
Sit Zuo4
Laugh Xiao4
Cry Ku1
Play Wan2
Do Zuo4
Buy Mai3
Sell Mai4
Help Bang1
Give Gei3
Wait Deng3
Try Shi4
Remember Ji4de2 记得
Forgot Wang4 ji4 忘记
Cook Zuo4 fan4 做饭
Watch movie Kan4 dian4 ying3 看电影
Sing Chang4 ge1 唱歌
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5 Power tips on Mastering Chinese characters (Part 2)

Written by Sweta Tagliabue, Marketing Executive at China unbound In [...]

Written by Sweta Tagliabue, Marketing Executive at China unbound

In our last article we looked at how learning the most frequently used characters and recognising the four basic character structures helps you master the writing of Chinese language.

In this article, let’s dig a bit deeper and look at 2 more power tips that will help us break down Chinese characters structures to make it easier to remember them.

Power tip #3: Understand basic stroke orders

Each Chinese character is made up of different strokes. We define “stroke” as one single stroke of the pen. In other words, every time you lift up your pen and start to write again, you are starting a new stroke.

Below is a list of the four basic strokes:

Horizontal stroke

Vertical stroke

Left-falling stroke

Writing from top to bottom, and curving to the left


 Small movement of the pen, from top downwards, towards left or right

So where do we start when we write a Chinese character? Here are the simple principles to follow:

From left to right:

From top to bottom:

From outside to inside


Power tip #4: Left = meaning, right = sound

What makes Chinese characters difficult to memorise and write is the amount of strokes that each character is made of. But if we look closer, we will notice that every character is made of specific components (called ‘radicals’) which have some specific meanings on their own.

As a general rule, the right hand side of the character indicates the sound, whereas the left hand part of the character indicates the meaning by indicating the group of ‘things’ it belongs to.Yes, there are exceptions but this is the best guess you can make if you have to guess the meaning and the pronunciation of a new word you don’t know.

Here comes the last but not least power tip:


Every Chinese character is made of RADICALS, components that indicate a specific area of meaning. A good way to pick up characters really quickly is therefore to learn the most commons radicals. Here’s some example below, divided by area of meaning.


  • •亻means ‘person’. It’s used in 你 (you), 他 (he).
  • 女 means ‘woman’. It originally came from a picture of a woman. It’s used in 她 (she), 妇 (woman), 婚 (marriage).


  • •土 means ‘earth’ and it appears in 地 (earth), 场 (site/court), 城 (city wall), 块 (a piece).
  • 木 is a picture of a tree. Usually this radical comes up in names of anything that could be made of wood, like 机 (machine), 根 (root), 村 (village), 材 (material), 松 (pine tree).

Now, can you see how learning Chinese characters is not as daunting as you thought and can even be enjoyable? The key is to understand the logic behind them. Hope you found this helpful!

If you are interested in learning a full list of common radicals and the related characters, please contact us at info@china-unbound.co.uk

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5 Power tips on Mastering Chinese characters (part 1)

Written by Sweta Tagliabue, Marketing Executive at China Unbound Have [...]

Written by Sweta Tagliabue, Marketing Executive at China Unbound

Have you always thought that learning Chinese is way too complicated for you to even try?

Have you always thought that the written language is just impossible to master because of the complexity of Chinese characters?

We are going to demystify some myths on Chinese characters and you’ll see that learning Chinese characters is not only possible but also enjoyable. In fact, if on the one hand it’s true that about 3,000 to 4,000 characters is needed in order to understand a standard Chinese Newspaper[1], did you know that just 250 characters is needed to understand daily conversations?

Over the next few weeks, we will share FIVE POWER TIPS to show you how to learn Chinese characters with less effort! Here is first one…

Power tip #1: Learn the most frequently used characters first!

In daily life, just knowing the top 250 characters will enable you to understand 57% to 65% of the Chinese words used[1].

What’s more, guess how much would you understand if you know the top 500 characters? A whooping 72 to 79%!

If you understand the top 1000 characters, you will understand 86% – 91% of the Chinese language.

So understanding (at least the majority) of the Chinese characters is achievable with a MUCH smaller set of characters we may think, all you need to do is focus on these words first, and understand the basics of Chinese characters and how they work.

[1] This section draws the information from the article Learning the most commonly used Chinese Characters and, in particular, from the analysis performed by Jun Da.

Power tip #2: Recognise the 4 basic character structures

  • Singular characters: made up of one single ‘component’ → 二, 六, 言, 目, 因
  • Left and right characters: made up of a left and right part → 什, 她, 冰
  • Top and bottom characters: made up of a top and a bottom part → 花, 家,学
  • Outside and inside characters: made up of an inside and an outside part → 回, 国, 园

Hope you find this useful. Stay tuned over the next few weeks to find out what the other POWER TIPS are!

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