Make the Word Your Own
A word is not your own until you can use it correctly. You may know one or more Han equivalents for a word and yet you may not be able to use it correctly. I am afraid that of all the English words that the average Chinese learner can translate into Han, less than half may really be called his own.
To give a few common words at random1, “wise”, “probable”, “congratulate”, “equip”, “personality”, “novel”, “nevertheless”, “meanwhile”—all these words many Chinese learners may “know” without being able to use them correctly. Do you think you can use them correctly, reader? Please read the following sentences carefully and see whether you find any mistake in any of them. I have to tell you beforehand2 that all the words in italics3 are misused, and that if you fail to find any one of these wrong, that proves that that word is not yet your own.
- The boy reads the book very well, and so he may be called a very wise boy.
- He is probable to pass the examination.
- Let’s congratulate her success.
- A radio has been equipped in the hall.
- He never pays his debts; his personality is bad.
- I don’t like such novels as these short stories.
- Nevertheless poor, the girl was neatly dressed.
- I bought some bananas and meanwhile some apples.
How many of these italicized words are your own? And how many are not? Look up4 those that are not your own in a good dictionary in order to find out why they are wrong in these sentences, and to learn their correct uses.
Remember that not every word that you think you understand well is really your own.
- at random 随机地
- have to tell you beforehand 必须事先告诉你
- in italics 用斜体
- look up 查出