|亲爱的||qīn ài de||adj., dear, darling|
|收到||shōu dào||v., to receive|
|封||fēng||measure word for letters|
|不好意思||bù hǎo yì sī||adj., sorry, embarrassed; excuse me; shy|
|学期||xué qī||n., semester|
|每天||měi tiān||time word, every day|
|习惯||xí guàn||v., to get used to; n., habit|
|这样||zhè yàng||adj., so, such|
|生活||shēng huó||n., life|
|就||jiù||adv., then, indicating a result|
|特别||tè bié||adv., extremely|
|毕业||bì yè||v./n., to graduate; graduation|
|专业||zhuān yè||n., major|
|研究||yán jiū||v./n., to research, to study; research, study|
|会||huì||v., can, be able to|
|听说||tīng shuō||v., hear others say|
|上海||shàng hǎi||n., Shanghai|
|挺||tǐng||adv., rather, quite|
|地方||dì fāng||n., place|
|打算||dǎ suàn||n., plan; v., to plan|
|除了…以外，还…||chú le … yǐ wài, hái…||conj., besides/in addition…|
|城市||chéng shì||n., city|
|希望||xī wàng||v., to hope, to wish|
|此致敬礼||cǐ zhì jìng lǐ||With best regards|
- 开始(的时候)… in the sentence “这学期开始的时候，我天天都很忙、很累，因为作业特别多。”
This word is used to describe past events the same way as “in the beginning…” in English. For instance:
开始(的时候)他不高兴，后来他听了一点儿音乐，就高兴了。(In the beginning he was unhappy. Afterwards he listened to the music and became happy.)
开始(的时候)我不懂，现在懂了很多。(In the beginning I didn’t understand. Now I understand more.)
- subject (就)要 verb 了 structure in the sentence “今年六月我就要毕业了”
This structure is used to express that an event is about to happen soon. In this structure, 就 is optional, used as an adverb, indicating “quickness of the action”. The sentence above can be re-written as 今年六月我要毕业了, where 要 indicates “will, be going to”. More examples:
我要上课了。(I am about to take the class.)
电影(就)要开始了。(The movie is about to begin.)
- The adverb 就 in the sentence “我很用功，就不觉得累了“
This adverb has several meanings. We have already learned the meaning of “quickness/earliness of action”, as in the sentence 今年六月我就要毕业了.
In the dialogue, the second part of the sentence “我很用功，就不觉得累了” contains 就 followed by a verb phrase, indicating the result “not feel tired”, similar to “then” in English. The structure is “situation/reason, 就 + Verb Phrase“. More examples,
要是你睡得早，你就起得早。(If you sleeps early, you will get up early.)
他昨天复习了功课，就考得很好。(Yesterday he reviewed his lessons, so he did well in the exam.)
- The verb 会 in the sentence 我会说中文
The verb 会 is often followed by another verb, used to indicate a learned ability/skill. In the sentence 我会说中文, “说中文” is a skill you have to develop through learning. The structure is “Subject + 会 + Verb phrase“. More examples:
我会打网球。(I can play tennis.)
他会写汉字。(He can write Chinese characters.)
- 除了…(以外)，subject 还/也 … in the sentence 除了 去上海以外，我还想去北京看看
This expression is used in the structure “除了 ⋯ (+ 以外) ，Subject + 也 / 还 ⋯”, used to indicate “in addition to…” The sentence above means “In addition to going to Shanghai, I also would like to go to Beijing for a visit.” More examples:
除了看书以外，我还喜欢看电视。(In addition to reading, I also like to watch TV.)
除了中文，他也会说日文。(Apart from Chinese, he can also speak Japanese.)
As we can see from the sentences above, they contain only one subject, therefore, 也 and 还 are interchangeable. If the sentences contain two subjects, only 也 can be used. For example:
除了李老师会说中文以外，周老师也会说中文。(In addition to Teacher Li, Teacher Zhou can also speak Chinese.)
除了王朋喜欢李友以外，高文中也喜欢李友。(In addition to Wang Peng, Gao Wenzhong also likes Li You.)
- Reduplication of verbs in the sentence 除了去上海以外，我还想去北京看看
Chinese people tend to reduplicate single-character verbs to indicate “a little bit” or “briefly”. The pattern is “subject + verb + verb“. Note in this pattern, the second verb’s tone changes to a neutral one. For example:
我们去问问他吧。(Let’s go to ask him.)
In occasional cases, people also reduplicate two-syllable verbs or adjectives. For example:
我们来练习练习中文发音吧。(let’s practice our Chinese pronunciation.)
今天我想高兴高兴。(Today I want to be happy.)
- 能 indicates the possibility of something happening, as in the sentence 我希望能很快再见到你
In addition to the meaning of “can”, 能 has other meanings. In the sentence 我希望能很快再见到你, the word 能 means “the possibility of 再见到你 will happen if external conditions allow. Here are several more examples:
你明天能早点儿来学校吗？(is it possible for you to come to school a little bit early tomorrow?)
今天晚上我不能去你家帮你准备考试了。(It is not possible for me to go to your house to help you prepare for the exam tonight.)
In Chinese culture, politeness is never too much except for between acquaintances or family members. When writing a letter, it’s very important for you to know how to show your politeness.
A Chinese letter normally contains 4 sections: start with addressing the recipient followed by greetings, then state the purpose of the letter (i.e., letter body), and then end with respectful expressions, the writer’s name, and the date. Below is a brief introduction about how each section should be composed.
1. Addressing the recipient:
The first line of a letter should be addressing the recipient. When writing to people who are older, clients, or whose social status is higher than yourself, use the most respectful title 尊敬的 (zūn jìng de, literally “respectable”) followed by the person’s surname and title. For example, if you write to your manager, you can start with “尊敬的李经理” where 李 is the surname and 经理 is the title, meaning “manager”. To address the people who teach you, guide you, and also care about you such as your tutors or teachers, you can go for 敬爱的 (jìng ài de, literally “respectable and beloved”). For instance, when writing to your teacher, you can start with 敬爱的张老师.
If you’re writing to someone whom you know very well and are really friendly with, such as friends or coworkers, you can use the more semi-formal expression 亲爱的 (qīn ài de, “dear”), followed by the person’s first name or kinship term. For example, if you write to your father, you can say 亲爱的爸爸. If you write to your good friend 大同, you can start with 亲爱的大同. To be more casual and informal, you can omit 亲爱的. Just start with addressing the person by his/her first name or kinship term.
Note that “亲爱的” was originally used exclusively to address your loved ones such as your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your spouse, etc. For example, suppose 美美 is your girlfriend, you can address her just by saying 亲爱的. However, in recent years the “loving” implication has been diluted and can be used to address anyone you are friendly with. It is now used very frequently even between strangers and colleagues, much like the English equivalents “sweetie” or “my dear”. Like the English equivalents, it can also be used in a derogatory manner based on tone and facial expressions.
After addressing the recipient, you should start to greet him/her on the second line. Greetings should be indented two spaces, or two Chinese characters.
For senior recipients, send regards to their health. For example, 最近你们身体怎么样 (how is your health recently). For middle-aged people, you can ask about their career or family. For instance, 你的工作和身体都好吗? 家人怎么样？When greeting a younger person or child, you can ask about his/her social circle or studies. For example, 最近你的学习/功课/考试怎么样？
Start the body two spaces or two Chinese characters indented. In this part, you can talk about the purpose of your letter. You can also describe whatever you want to say to the recipient.
When closing a Chinese letter, 此致敬礼 (cǐ zhì jìng lǐ, meaning “With best regards…”.) is one of the most commonly used and the most respectful expression, where 此致 means “I have finished writing” and 敬礼 means “salute, I give you my respect”. Note they should be written on two separate lines, with 此致 two spaces or characters indented and 敬礼 not indented, as shown below:
Besides 此致敬礼, there are many other ways to end a letter, including but not limited to:
(祝)一切顺利 zhù yīqiè shùnlì – Wish everything goes smoothly
(祝)一切好 zhù yīqiè hǎo – Wish everything is good
回头再聊 huítóu zài liáo – Talk to you next time
保重 bǎozhòng – Take care
代我向你们全家问好 dài wǒ xiàng nǐmen quánjiā wènhǎo– Send my regards to your family
Even just 谢谢 or 再见 is acceptable.
At the end of the letter, don’t forget to include your name and the date.
You can hear this Chinese song that is actually a letter written to parents, where the above format is used.