Tag Archives: Learn Mandarin Now

Crazy Chinese Family Trees

It is time for the first guest post on my blog in 2016. This guest post by Learn Mandarin Now gives interesting facts about Chinese Family Trees and how to address family members the proper way without embarrassing yourself too much. It is not the first guest post you Learn Mandarin Now on my blog and you might remember for example Three Ways To Learn Mandarin Chinese Effectively or the Infographic about the Top 10 Ways to Learn Mandarin Chinese.


I don’t know about you, but I am a long-time follower of Timo’s blog: Crazy Chinese Family. I enjoy it the most when Timo writes about his “interesting” relationship with his mother-in law, which makes me laugh every time!

I know Timo can speak some Mandarin Chinese and, despite this and having first-hand experience about how Chinese-in laws and families can be, it’s probably still hard for him to sometimes understand just how crazy and complicated Chinese family trees can be. In fact, at times, it’s hard to get family relationships all right, even for native Chinese!

Well, if you also feel this way too, we hope we can help you out today!


In my opinion, the Chinese family tree is complicated for couple of key reasons:

  • for example, for the English word “cousin” there are eight Chinese word: 表(biǎo)哥(gē),表(biǎo)姐(jiě),表(biǎo)弟(dì),表(biǎo)妹(mèi),堂(táng)哥(gē),堂(táng)姐(jiě),堂(táng)弟(dì),堂(táng)妹(mèi)。Crazy?
  • as we all know, China is a really big country and, although the aim is to have a standard language for students to learn or remember, there are lots of variations for the same terms. The Chinese word “媳(xí)妇(fù)” means daughter-in law but, in some areas, it can also mean wife… again so crazy!


A Chinese family tree can be talked about forever, but let’s get started with the basics:

A couple: this is easy:

Husband: 老(lǎo)公(gōng),丈(zhàng)夫(fu),先(xiān)生(shēng)

Wife: 老(lǎo)婆(pó),妻(qī)子(zi),夫(fū)人(rén)

In-laws (here’s a more complicated part)

If you are like Timo and married to a Chinese lady, you should call your wife’s parents:

wife’s father: 岳(yuè)父(fù)

wife’s mother: 岳(yuè)母(mǔ)


But what they should call Timo?


Note: 女(nǚ)婿(xù)is the most proper word to use. It’s used more to introduce you to someone. Eg. This is my son in-law. 是(shì)我(wǒ)的(de)女(nǚ)婿(xù)。

In most cases, your in-laws will just say your formal name or your Chinese name (if you have one).

What if your wife has lots of brothers/sisters?

Your wife’s older brother: 大舅子(dàjiùzi)

older sister: 大姨子(dàyízi)

younger brother: 小舅子(xiǎojiùzǐ)

younger sister: 小(xiǎo)姨(yí)子(zǐ)

Seems a bit complicated, right? Well, I don’t want to go any deeper into this today, but really I understand how confused you may feel.


Still, as Chinese New Year is coming soon, if you also are meeting family-in law and family, here are two great tips for you:

  • The number one rule is NEVER call seniors by their name directly. For example, your (future) mother-in-law is 陈大矛(I just made her name up). Don’t call her 陈大矛or 大矛,both are big No-no’s, unless you don’t want to see her again ever… However, when speaking to the younger generation, calling them by their names is acceptable.
  • The second tip is if your Chinese is only at beginner level and you don’t remember the names of relatives at all, just ask before you speak to anyone to avoid making any silly mistakes. Typically, as you might be one of only one of the few foreigners in the room, a friend or colleague or your Chinese family will usually be happy to help you out.


Finally, as a long time follower of Timo, I am always on Timo’s side and hope in the New Year he can win the “war” with his mother in-law. With that thought, I want to offer Timo’s some Chinese wisdom from the “art of the war” in the New Year. 己(jǐ)知(zhī)彼(bǐ),百(bǎi)战(zhàn)不(bú)殆(dài)。

Weekly Chinese Wisdom_01


Anyway, I am just joking. Of course, Timo loves his in-laws and his Chinese family 🙂


Either way, if you are also interested in learning more about Mandarin Chinese, we recently launched our very interesting, daily Chinese Podcasts from Monday to Friday on our site. You can either listen directly on our site Learn Mandarin Now or via different platforms such as iTunes. Feel free to leave your honest feedback or rating to us, we always appreciate hearing from you.

I wish everyone an amazing 2016 and Spring Festival ahead.


Did you ever face the problem of addressing family members the proper way?

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Guest Post: Three ways to learn Mandarin Chinese effectively

Today I have another guest post by Learn Mandarin Now.  It is not the first one by them and you might remember for example the infographic about the Top 10 Ways To Learn Mandarin Chinese or the Mandarin Phrases and Traditions for New Year. So here you go and I hope some of these tips might help in your studies.


With more people around the world planning to learn Mandarin Chinese, people are frequently asking for advice on better ways to learn the language.  To help more people improve their fluency in Mandarin Chinese, we are always looking for ways to bring you new ideas, suggestions. Today, we’ve put together three tips to help:

  1. Making the most of immersion learning

Learn Mandarin Now_1


If you really want to learn Chinese fast, going to live in China to learn Chinese can be highly effective.  A common question from many who are considering immersing themselves in Chinese culture to improve their language skills is how to make the most of time spent in the country?


Travel to a second tier city

This is becoming one of the more popular pieces of advice from many students of Mandarin Chinese.

We’ve talked with a number of foreigners who have lived in Chengdu, and they will tell you there are more opportunities to practice speaking Chinese in an area like this compared with being in a first tier city.  Larger cities are great for sight seeing, but people in big cities are more likely to know at least a bit of English.  Besides this, the cost of living is significantly lower in second tier cities.

If you enjoy spicy Chinese food, you’ll enjoy some great Chinese cuisine in Chengdu as well.


  1. Getting the most out of time with a tutor

Learn Mandarin Now_Tutor


If you aren’t quite ready to take the plunge into Chinese immersion, many students agree that one on one tutoring is more effective than learning in a classroom.  It’s also more fun to find a teacher that you really click with.  But what can you do to get the most out of your time with a tutor?

  • Ask for feedback

If you’re talking a lot in the lesson and your tutor is just smiling and agreeing with what you are saying, then maybe something is wrong.

Be sure to stop and ask your tutor questions about what you’re saying.  You might ask if there’s a better way to say something, or if the way you’re saying it sounds awkward.  You might also ask if there is anything else you need to know on the topic.

Feedback is where your tutor can provide you the most value and is crucial if you want to improve.

  • Try to use other tutors occasionally

If you have only one or two tutors, you only get one or two approaches to the language, and only one or two ways of advising you and correcting your use of the language.  If you can seek out different people to work with, at least occasionally, then you get exposed to a variety of accents and ways of using the language.  Sometimes, one tutor may disagree with another.  Don’t let this confuse you, just remember there are many ways to speak a language, especially if the people you talk with are from different areas.


  1. Choosing helpful learning resources

Learn Mandarin Now_2


There are many different ways to successfully learn Mandarin.  Besides classes, tutors, and immersion, there are also books, audio files, websites, and learning apps.

What works for some people may not be going to work for others, and there is no tool or resource that is guaranteed to work for every student. The best piece of advice is to try lots of different things, use what works, and ignore what doesn’t.  If you are just starting your learning adventure, take a look at our research about how to learn Chinese for a great list of resources. You will find that it is not always necessary to spend a lot of money to learn Mandarin Chinese. In fact, many of those resources are free.


Again many thanks to Timo for letting us to share this with you! We believe the tips will help you learn how to speak Chinese more effectively. Feel free to visit our site to get more advice from others who have been where you are now.
Happy learning!


Have you tried any of these methods already?

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Guest Post: Top resources to Learn Chinese

Hi all, once again I have a great infographic from Learn Mandarin Now. I remember when I was asked about my top resources and I am glad my feedback was used for this work. I must also add that I am still a defender of the basic vocabulary/ character flash cards hand written (by my wife…)! But I also like to use other means to study as well in order not to get stucked with just one source.


Learning Mandarin Chinese is becoming more and more popular—and can be very rewarding. To help you along your way, we recently asked 50+ bloggers about the top resources they use to Learn Chinese, via our blog Learn Mandarin Now. Amazingly, we received so much feedback that we’ve put together a colourful Infographic of the results—and we’re happy to share this with you today.


But, firstly, thanks to Timo for his contribution and for letting us sharing the Infographic with you in his blog: Crazy Chinese family. If you’d like to know about Timo’s suggestions and get an insight to other tips about learning Chinese from 50+ top bloggers, check out our post: How to learn Chinese: 50 blogger’s top resources.

Final_Learn Mandarin Now Infographic

We hope you enjoy our Infographic and our post, and that they help you learn better Chinese!


What are your methods to study Chinese or any other language?

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