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Stepping Stones Lesson Four

Audio Immersion  |  Audio Practice  |  Vocabulary Study  |  Vocabulary Review
Reading Practice  |  Exercises  |  Stepping Stones Home

The Foolish Old Man Moves the Mountain

Study the vocabulary for one line of the story along with the English translation of that line. You may want to go back to the previous step so you can listen to the line and practice reading it aloud. When you can read the line comfortably and with full comprehension, go on to the next line.

The Foolish Old Man Moves the Mountain
At the door to the Foolish Old Man’s house
 were two large mountains,
whose circumference were six hundred miles around,
so going in and out were very inconvenient.
He decided to dig away the mountain.
There was an old man who laughed at the Foolish Old Man,
at which the Foolish Old Man said:
“I cannot dig away these two mountains by myself,
but my sons and grandsons can still dig at it,
 and my sons’ and grandsons’ sons and grandsons can still dig at it.
The mountain will never grow taller,
so there will eventually be a day when the mountain has been dug away.”
Up in the Heavens, a God heard this,
and very much respected the Foolish Old Man,
and then made the God of Great Strength
take the mountain and move it away.


New Vocabulary

Click on any character to see how it is written. Click on any character's pinyin to hear how it is pronounced.

While learning to write the characters is not essential to learning to read them, it helps a lot and is highly recommended. Practice writing each yourself 5-10 times, being careful to follow the stroke order shown in the animation.

foolish; stupid
a respectful form of address for an elderly man
to move
house; home
two; a couple (of)
[measure word for large, immoveable objects like mountains, cities, etc.]
round; circular
no; not (negates verbs)
to decide
to decide
fixed; certain; definite
to hold; to take hold of
to dig and remove;
to dig
to laugh; to smile
this; these
son; child
still; yet   
will (future tense); know how to
to grow
general; in every case
God/Gods; spirit
to respect; to salute
to ask; to allow somebody to do something

Existing Vocabulary

Vocabulary Notes

家 is a word with two meanings. The first is “home”(or “house”). 家 also means family, such as in the word 家人。

门 refers to any sort of door or gate.

口 originally meant “mouth.” However, it has an extended meaning of an opening of any sort, such as 门口 (“doorway”) or 山口 (“mountain pass”)

大 – the opposite of 小. In Chinese, new words can often be created by juxtaposing two polar opposites. For example, 大小, means size. (You can think of the range of “bigness” and “smallness” as size).

Small can also be represented simply as 不大; big can also be 不小. If an object is “in the middle,” it is most common simply to say 不大不小。

山 uses the measure word 座. “One mountain”à 一座山。                     

方 originally refers to a wide-open place, or a square. Here it is part of the compound word 方便。 

六 is “six.”百  is “hundred.” Together, 六百 means “six hundred.”

里 is a “Chinese mile,”a unit of measurement. In this lesson, 里 was translated simply as “mile,” even though an English mile is roughly three 里。
进  means “to enter.” Its opposite is 出 “to exit”

定 means “fixed,”“set,” or “definite.”It can also be used as a complement (result). For example, 说不定 means “one can’t say for certain.

走, in modern Chinese means “to walk” or “to go.”Originally, it meant “run.”

老 means “old.” However, in China, being older is a sign of social superiority. 老 therefore can carry a positive connotation rather than a negative one like in English.

人 – Remember that Chinese does not explicity express plurality. 人 could be “person” or “persons”/”people,” depending on the context.

我 means “I” or “me.”

这 means “this.”The opposite is 那 (“that”).

高 means “high” or “tall.” Can be used to describe people or things.

愚公移山 is now a common 成语 meaning that, with rugged and stubborn perseverance, anything is possible.

Once you've studied the vocabulary and can read each line of the story with comprehension, you are ready to go on to the next step.