In order to get going on our vocabulary we should put it to some use with a sentence exercise. It’s a really good idea to learn vocabulary that is actually meaningful. I was taught Chinese in a somewhat tradition fashion, and while I learnt a lot, I forgot at least half of the vocabulary and grammar patterns almost immediately. We were learning from a terrible textbook* that taught us about abortions and other awkward topics, can you really blame me? Studying on my own I found that I didn’t forget the things I had learnt while studying during the summer or things that were meaningful like “physics” [it was my major then]. Make your learning meaningful to you and you’ll be surprised all that you learn. On that note let’s get on with the exercise.
We can start with some basic sentences that we would want to know how to say. For starters we would like to talk about music tastes.
1. What kind of music do you like? ＝ 你喜欢什么音乐？ [Lit: you like what music?]
You can also ask,
What kind of music do you like to listen to = 你喜欢听什么音乐？[Lit: you like listen what music?]
There is a lot to be said for this type of sentence. Notice that in Chinese questions are implied by question words such as “什么” (what), so to answer these questions you could simply answer with what you would substitute for those question words in my case:
I like to listen to electronic music: 我喜欢听电子乐。
2. Then maybe you want to ask about favorite band/singer/dj… in Chinese favorite is “most liked” 最喜欢, here is where 的 and 是 come in handy:
你最喜欢的表演者是谁？= Who is your favorite performer?
Sometimes we don’t really have a favorite, but we have bands that we really like. I would answer something like:
It’s hard to choose, but at the moment I really like The XX=很难作出选择，但是现在很喜欢听The XX**
3. We can employ our previous vocabulary and say:
Do you know where I can go see local bands play? = 你知道哪里可以看本地乐队现场表演? [Lit. you know where can see local bands live perform?]
Go and try your own sentences, check them online to see if they are colloquial sounding. For exercise try to translate these into Chinese
- Do you like rap?
- Do you want to go see a local band play on friday?
- I can’t tell if he’s out of tune because I’m tone deaf.
- I like everything except country music (乡村音乐).
Have fun with that, I’ll post my translations in a comment.
*I found the traditional version of the book on google books, check it out for yourself.
**Grammar point on this sentence, I chose something hard to translate because I wanted to learn more natural speech. Translating “It’s hard to choose” to something as colloquial is not as hard as you think. Literally it would have been 很难选择, but I have an extra 作出, why? I guess it would be more close to make a choice. Be careful with the 作出 and don’t confuse it with 做出 which is used for concrete things whereas 作出 is for abstract things like choices, decisions, etc.