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Stepping Stones Lesson Five

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

This Spot Doesn’t Have 300 Taels of Silver

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.

This Spot Doesn’t Have 300 Taels of Silver
In ancient times,
there was a man who buried his silver underground.
He feared that other people would steal his silver,
so right where he had buried it, he put up
a sign that said “This Spot Doesn’t Have 300 Taels of Silver.”
There was a neighbor, a man called Wang Er who saw this,
and [he] waited until after it was dark and then stole the silver.
Wang Er feared that other people would know that it was he who stole it,
so he added onto the sign
“Neighbor Wang Er Didn’t Steal It.”
As a result, after other people saw it
they all knew that it was Wang Er who stole the silver.


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.

this place; this spot; this land
negative form of 有(“to have,”“to exist”)
silver (the material; not the color)
to bury
under the ground
to fear; to be afraid of
other people
to steal (and carry off)
to stand; to make stand; to put up; to erect
sign; placard
(to be) called
king; surname Wang
to see
to wait
black; (v.) to darken
to know
 to add
a sentence (of speech)
never before; not before
as a result
both; all

Existing Vocabulary

Vocabulary Notes

In Classical Chinese, there was no explicit word difference between “this” versus “that.” 此 could therefore function as either “this” or “that.” In Modern Chinese 此 is quite formal. In modern colloquial speech, 这 zhè and 那 are nà used for this and that, respectively. They are also commonly used with measure words.

无 is the Classical Chinese negative form of 有 (to have; to exist; there is / there are). In Modern Chinese, the negative 没有 méiyǒu is used.

子 is a noun suffix. Therefore 银子 refers to the noun silver (the actual material), rather than the color (adjective) silver. To describe something as silver, simply use 银色的 yínsède (silver colored). The 子 suffix is never used when a word is acting as a measure word. In this chapter we have “a sentence” 一句。Take note that the noun form of sentence is 句子。

时候 refers to a time when something happened. For example “when burying the silver” would be 埋银子的时候, literally “burying the silver’s time.” This construction is necessary because, unlike English, dependent clauses in Chinese precede the noun rather than follow the noun.

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.