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Stepping Stones Lesson One

Audio Immersion  |  Audio Practice  |  Vocabulary Study  |  Vocabulary Review
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Reading Practice

Practice reading the entire poem aloud, with comprehension, using only the unannotated Chinese text.

If you get stuck, you can click on any character to display the pinyin and meaning of the character. Use the audio player to review the pronunciation of the text.

Grammar Notes

Word Order

Regarding basic word order, Chinese is similar to English in that transitive verbs usually precede objects. For example, in line 1 of the poem above, the verb 上 precedes the object 山. Adjectives also precede the nouns that they are describing. For example, in line 2 of the poem, the adjective 西 precedes 楼, the noun it is describing.   [Additional Reading]

Words with Multiple Grammatical Functions

Some words, such as 上, can act as either a verb or a preposition. In the poem above, since there is no other verb in the line and an object directly following 上, we know that it is acting as the verb “to climb.” However, in other cases the word 上 can be a preposition meaning “above” or “on top.”   [Additional Reading]

Measure Words

One unique feature of the Chinese language is its usage of measure words. Measure words come between numbers or identifiers and the objects they are describing. In the last line of the poem above we see the phrase 十个人. In between the words for “ten” and “people” is the measure word 个. 个 is the most commonly used measure word and is actually acceptable even in cases when another measure word would be more appropriate. The nature of the object usually determines which measure word is most appropriate. This will become apparent in the subsequent lessons.   [Additional Reading]

Once you can read the poem through (congratulations!), you're ready to go on to the next step.