Over years of teaching Mandarin to English speakers, I’ve noticed some recurring mistakes that can end up becoming bad habits if left uncorrected. Here are the three most common mistakes I see Mandarin learners make.
NB: Example sentences marked “×”in red are incorrect. Those marked in green are correct.
A common mistake I often hear students make is using 是 in sentences with an adjective.
Similarly, the sentence 他是很高 × (tā shì hěn gāo ×), which means “he is very tall,” is incorrect. 高 (gāo), like 漂亮 (piàoliang), is an adjective, and therefore 是 is not needed: 他很高 (tā hěn gāo) is the correct way to say it.
So when do we use 是? It is used in sentences where the word used to describe something is a noun.
If you have trouble figuring out which words are adjectives and which words are nouns, keep the following in mind. When describing something with an adjective, it is usually an opinion (not everyone will agree someone is pretty). When using a noun, what is being described is fact.
The elements joined by 和 (hé: and) are coordinate and they often belong to categories of the same kind. Generally, it is not used to join clauses.
How would you correct the following two sentences?
Adverbial words should be put before the verb in a sentence as opposed to at the end. Native English speakers often make this common mistake because it is sometimes tough to overcome established language patterns that have become second nature.
The basic structure of Chinese sentences is: S + adverbial words + V(O).
Since the basic structure of Chinese sentences is: S + adverbial words + V(O), the sentences above should be corrected as: