On being more comfortable with speaking Chinese naturally. Transitioning from English Chinese


That’s going to fall! Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTgtr2YziBo

I realized that while I understand this sentence:

我跟你说,上面的牌子快掉了, 你拿梯子 修一下呵。

I notice that I’ll translate it to this in English,

“I’m telling you, the brands up there are going to fall! Get the ladder to fix it.” (sort of literal translation)


“That’s going to fall! Get the ladder to fix it.” (This is how I would actually say this in English)

I notice that how these sentences are phrased in Chinese are very different than how I would speak in English.  However, if I were going to describe something to fall, I would have also said, in Chinese + English:

“这个掉了! Fix it!”

These subtle differences in English and Chinese are what distinguish literal translations versus native-like sentences.

Understanding these difference is key in trying to convey a specific emotion, feeling, or expression from English to Chinese. The way a sentence is structured (and conveyed) in Chinese, for example, is a form of communication, and can influence how the person you are trying to speak to will react to what you are saying.

The reason why I am trying to notice these subtle differences is because I’d like to be able to convey my feelings more naturally in Chinese, instead of using literal translations.

This comes from talking to some of my friends who are native speakers of Chinese. I will understand what they are saying, but because I don’t have the practice of QUICKLY creating native Chinese sentences (or confidence), I end up not responding quickly enough. At the same time, I feel like the meaning, feelings I want to use in Chinese aren’t accurately conveyed if I use really literal English to Chinese like sentences.

I’m not sure exactly how to practice this or work on this, but I think a key thing is being able to notice these sentence patterns differences between Chinese/English, and be able to transition quickly between the two sentence pattern.

This entry was posted in Chinese. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s