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Stepping Stones Lesson Six

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

Practice reading the entire story 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

上 (shàng)and 下(xià)

上 literally means “up.” 下 literally means “down.” In this chapter, they are used as locatives, namely “on” and “under.” In Chinese, the locative is placed after the object. Thus, 树上 means “in the tree” and 树下 means “under the tree.” Similarly, 地上 means “on the ground”; 地下 means “under the ground.”

Using Measure Words (Continued)

In this chapter, we see three measure words. We have 个, which is used for people or things (in this chapter used for 农夫). 只 is a common measure word used for most animals(here used for 兔子). And lastly, we have 棵, which is the measure word for all plants/trees(here used for 树).

Verb + Complement

Modern Chinese uses a “verb + complement” grammatical system where the core verb is followed by a complement, or result. 撞死 literally means “to crash (and then) die.” 看见 is also verb + complement, indicating “to look (and then) see.” It is important to note that, unlike English, the negative form will have 不 interjected between verb and result. Thus; “can’t see” is actually 看不见;”can’t die from crashes” is 撞不死。


In Chinese, when you want to say “not even one” you must say 一个都没有。”Not even a little bit” is 一点都没有。也 can also be used in place of 都.

可以 vs. 能

可以 means “can,” “may.” 能 means “able.” Thus, with 可以 it is a question of permissibility, while 能 is more about ability/possibility. 我不可以吃冰淇凌 means “I can’t eat ice cream.” Perhaps his mother isn’t allowing him to eat ice cream. 我不能吃冰淇凌 means “I can’t eat ice cream” in the sense that one is physically unable to eat ice cream. Perhaps he is lactose-intolerant.

Using 就 (Continued)

就 is a grammatical particle that indicates that that whatever happens next is close in association, quicker (than expected) or sooner than expected. 就 always immediately precedes a verb. In this lesson, we had:


Here 就 is more used for a close connection between events. It can be understood as something to the effect of “just after this, he didn’t cultivate his land anymore. The opposite of 就 is 才, which indicates distant association, slower (than expected), or later than expected.

了 is a particle which beginners of Chinese may find to be quite difficult. It has three functions. Firstly, it can be used as a verb completion (past tense) marker. 吃 is “eat”; 吃了 is “ate.” However, it can also be used as a change-of-state. 我饿了 means “I’m hungry (now),” indicating that you were not hungry earlier. And finally, 了 can be used simply to add emphasis, such as 太好了。

Using 不。。。了

As mentioned above, 了 can indicate a change of state. To say “not anymore” we use the Chinese pattern 不。。。了. In this chaper, we had 不再种地了, meaning “not cultivating [his] land anymore.” A simple example of this would be 我不爱你了,meaning “I don’t love you anymore.”

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