Sara’s Mandarin Monday: Watch out these mistakes in your Chinese essays

While writing Chinese blog posts here and studying teaching Chinese at university, I’ve learned a lot about writing Chinese essays. This Monday I decide to share all my mistakes with you so you don’t have to do the same mistakes I have done! Lets take a look what kind of mistakes happen when writing essays in Chinese and take my mistakes as examples.

Forgetting something important

Usually you forget a word in the sentence where it’s supposed to be.

For example:

如果你选择丁克(的)生活方式,中国父母一定不同意 > Here I forgot to add 的
我对(这些)都感兴趣 > Here I forgot to add 这些
在中国每个地方每个民族(都)有他们的特色菜 > And here I forgot to add 都

When you forget to add something it might turn your sentence not natural, hard to understand and/or grammatically incorrect.

Adding something that shouldn’t be added

This is the opposite to the first one. Here you add something that you think should be in the sentence, but it’s actually incorrect.

For example:

我应该多一点跟中国人聊天 > No need to add 一点 here
这是她第二次来中国 > Shouldn’t add 过 here
怎么会用这样的话来问别人他们怎么样 > And should remove 他们

Adding something extra can easily become a bad habit. Many learners use too many 了 in the sentence because they don’t know when to use or not to use it. Often these mistakes are because of poor grammar skills.

Choosing the wrong word

This is the challenge for intermediate students! You know many words that have a similar meaning and you don’t know which one to use in one particular sentence. It’s easy to make a mistake and choose wrong one.

For example:

在芬兰中国餐厅的菜跟真真(真正)的中国菜完全不一样。> Chinese doesn’t have a word 真真, should be 真正
()瑞典菜跟我们差不多 > Common mistake to use the wrong measure word
在芬兰我们一般一次吃一()菜 > This is a measure word mistake also

Putting a word in the wrong place inside a sentence

Sometimes you know which word to use, put you fail to put it in the wrong place in the sentence.

For example:

那时候我是跟她^认识的 > The wrong position of 那时候, should be put to ^ place
但是那个地方^只是个博物馆  > Wrong position of 不, should be put in front of 只
写中文博客是个很好的方法提高自己的写作水平^ > Wrong position of 方法, should be put in the end of the sentence and add 的 before it (…的方法)

Mixing two sentences into one

This is the monster of mistakes where you put two sentences into one and in the process you make a mistake. Many beginners learn a lot of new sentence structures and can get confused how to use them. But in this case simple is better and you should avoid putting everything together.

Here is one example:

但是我不太喜欢在那里按摩员没有工资 > In this sentence I wanted to say that I don’t like the massage place because masseurs don’t have a salary, it would be better to divide these in two sentences: …,但是我不太喜欢在那里按摩, 是因为按摩师没有工资。

How to improve your Chinese essay skills?

After going over all of these mistakes it might feel a bit intimidating to write an essay ever again, but that’s exactly what you (and I) should do!

Here are some tips to improve your Chinese essays:

  1. Write a lot of essays and get the corrected by a teacher or a tutor (or a blog reader!)
  2. Read a lot in Chinese in order to get a feeling of what is correct writing
  3. Study grammar and especially those aspects where you make mistakes, learn why something is correct or incorrect
  4. Write a blog post in Chinese and leave a comment to this post with a link to your Chinese blog post!

 

Besides writing my own Chinese essays and recording me speaking Chinese, I decided that on Mandarin Monday I should also be helping all of you who study Chinese too! Learn from my mistakes, so you can improve faster than I do. And for quick tips on learning Chinese check out How Can I Learn Chinese.

  • 我对都(这些)感兴趣 -> 我对(这些)都感兴趣

    You forgot to include copy/paste mistakes in your article. :) Very common mistake. :)

    [Reply]

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Luckily this was “Learn from my mistakes” and not “Do like this” kind of post ;) So I have to add one more tip: Check your sentences twice!

    Thanks for pointing it out.

    [Reply]

  • Guest

    are you testing us with this one? :-)

    但是我不太喜欢在那里按摩, 是因为按摩师没有工。

    [Reply]

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    Oh no, I really wish I was :) At least I know that someone has read the post so thaniks for pointing it out! I made a presentation about this at school and obviously cut and paste isn’t my strongest skill :)

    [Reply]

    ZhongwenMovies Reply:

     my pleasure. i’m a stickler for editing. :-)

    [Reply]

  • Orachat

    Sara,

    Thank you very much for the addition of mistake / suggestions, really useful. I found your blog shares the crucial experiences and great points of learning chinese for foreigner.
    These improvement suggestions really make a lots of my learning techniques more clearer.

    btw, it’s good that you added in some info. like the ‘ masseurs don’t have a salary’ so now I know what I’ve been wondering how they gets paid ;-)

    Cheers!

    Orachat

    [Reply]

  • Jack

    You should also thank your blog readers who correct your mistakes… ;)

    Just to let you know Its not easy for many of us to type in Chinese (I do not have Chinese keyboard, nor do I know how to type in Chinese keyboard – I use “Google Translate” to translate approximate english words or phrases to chinese characters that I recognize and copy and paste word by word into the comment) it look hours and a lot of patience to do. Just saying.

    Also, I think you should learn to appreciate others – it goes a long way to establish long lasting relationships..especially in Chinese culture. “禮” is an important concept in Chinese – I hope you will learn that.

    Anyway, good post, I will say no more.

    [Reply]

    Sara Jaaksola Reply:

    I’m sorry if you got the idea that I don’t appreciate others, I’m not sure how you came to that conclusion.

    There’s no need for a special Chinese keyboard. You can download a software that lets you to type in Chinese or you can do that online. Check them out, really helpful! :) I didn’t have any idea that you are going the hard way to type Chinese, wow, thank you so much for seeing that effort!

    [Reply]

  • Peter Hu China

    我应该多一点跟中国人聊天 the right sequence is 我应该多跟中国人聊天

    [Reply]