One difficulty I’ve had in learning Chinese is the number of verbs needed to describe similar but different actions.  For example, in English the verb ‘to play’ can be used to describe many actions,  such as, “I play guitar,” or, “I play soccer.”  The Chinese translation is a bit more complex than that.  The verb “to play,” translated as 玩 (wán), literally refers to ‘playing,’ as in, “The children play together.”

If you want to say “I play guitar,” you actually say, 我弹吉他 (Wǒ dàn jítā), literally translated as “I flick guitar.”

“I play soccer,” is actually 我踢足球 (Wǒ tī zúqiú), or “I kick soccer.”

” I play the trumpet,” is 我吹小号(Wǒ chuī xiǎo hào), or “I blow trumpet.

This makes learning Chinese verbs rather important, although you can often substitute words like 玩 (play) or 用 (use) and get your meaning across.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember all these different verbs, but I’ve also found that it’s a good tool for memorizing verbs that would otherwise be hard to commit to memory, especially because a lot of the phrases I find to be pretty cool.  I really like the idea of “flicking guitar,” and now I’ll probably never forget how to say flick in Chinese.

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