Chinese Calligraphy

Lesson 12

Sums of money

The official currency of the People's Republic of China is the Rénmínbì (人民幣). Its literal translation is "People's Currency". The basic unit of the Rénmínbì is the Yuán (圓 or informally 元). Yuán can be translated as "Round Coin". In colloquial Chinese the Yuán is also called Kuài (塊), meaning "Piece". One yuán is subdivided into 10 jiǎo (角). Informally the Jiǎo is called Máo (毛), meaning "Hair". One jiǎo is subdivided into 10 fēn (分). The abbreviation of the currency is RMB or ¥.

The official currency in Taiwan (Republic of China) is the New Taiwan Dollar (新臺幣). The official unit of the NTD is also the Yuán. The currency subunits Jiǎo (角) and Fēn (分) exist officially but are practically not in use.

Useful vocabulary

Sums of money

Parts of the whole

If you want to analyse different parts of the whole, the whole comes before the part.

Parts of the whole

The particle 得 (de)

The particle 得 (de) is used between a verb or adjective and a complement. The complement indicates the manner, degree or possibilities of the verb or adjective.

得 (de)

The particle 得 (de) combined with Verb-Object-Compounds

Some Chinese verbs are Verb-Object-Compounds (V-O-C) which means they consist of a verb and an object. An example of such a verb is 寫字 (xiě zì). Translated literally 寫字 (xiě zì) means "to write words" but its actual meaning is "to write". If we want to use the particle 得 (de) in combination with a Verb Object Compound, we need to proceed the following way:

得 (de)

Negating the particle 得 (de)

If you negate a sentence in the present tense containing an action verb and an adjective, the negation 不 (bù) occurs before the adjective. Note that if the adjective is preceded by an adverb (e.g. 很), then you can put the negation 不 either before or after the adverb.

得 (de)

If you negate a sentence in the past containing an action verb and an adjective, the negation (沒) occurs before the action verb.

Negation (沒)

The particle 地 (de)

The purpose of the particle 地 (de) is to mark adverbs. It is therefore also called "adverbial modifier". It has a similar purpose as the English suffix "-ly" in adverbs (e.g. happily).

Particle 地 (de)

Changing the word order from S-V-O to O-S-V

In Lesson 2 we learned that the basic word order in Chinese (just like in English) is Subject-Verb-Object (SVO). However, if we consider the object to be more important than the subject of the sentence, we can emphasise the object by moving it to the beginning of the sentence.

Word order

If the sentence lists more than one object to choose from, then you should also use 都 ("both" or "all"). When 都 is used to refer to objects, then the object must come before the Verb.


The future

Chinese has no future tense. The future is expressed by using verbs or time words referring to the future.

The following examples show you how to express future time by using the verbs 會 (huì) and 要 (yào).


The following examples show you how to refer to the future using time words.