I'm not actually studying Chinese right now, just learning a character or word now and then... (My company is developing software which is also localised for the Chinese market, so I see a lot of Mandarin in Simplified Chinese).
So anyway, as far as I understand Chinese words are most often two characters rather than one, as opposed to the common perception among ppl who don't know Chinese at all Sometimes both characters mean pretty much the same, sometimes the whole expression has little to do with the meaning of component letters, for instance:
明 (ming2) bright
天 (tian1) day, sky, God, I don't know...
Of course there are single characters used as words, such as 我 你 etc. But is it worth learning the meaning of each component of a new word?
BTW could anyone tell me how to put real tone marks?
Aymeric wrote:Well from my own experience (I still have a great deal to learn) I would say that it is useful to learn their meaning, and anyway even if you don't learn it intentionally, you will with practice.
It's useful because you can find lots of words that are a combination of two frequent characters, but that you can't find in the most common dictionnaries. So unless you know the meaning of the two characters and guess the general meaning of the word, you won't be able to understand it.
More importantly, a lot of words have almost the same translation in English while they must not be mixed up and have big nuances.
Just the first example that springs to my mind : 规律，规定，规则，规矩. These four words can be translated by "law" or "rule", and this is what you will find in dictionaries. Actually each of them is different from the others, and you can have a feel for these differences only by knowing the exact meaning of 定，律，则，and 矩.
Mixing up these words is perceived as incorrect, so obviously it's necessary to know their exact meaning.
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