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How to Catch a Mouse 怎麼捕捉老鼠 in Chinese



(zen3 me.) (bu3 zhuo1) (lao3 shu3)

(how) (to catch) (mouse or rat)

How To Catch a Mouse


I have a big problem.


[(很)(多)(的)] (老鼠) (侵略)❷ (我的) (雞舍)❸

[(hen3)(duo1)(de.)] (lao3 shu3) (qin1 lue4) (wo3 de.) (ji1 she4)

[(very) (many) (adjective marker)] (mouse) (invade) (my) (chicken coop)

Many mice have invaded my chicken coop.


I know why they are there.



(ta1 men.) (hui4 lai2) (chi1) [(mu3 ji1)(de.)] (si4 liao4)

(they) (certainly come) (to eat) [(chicken/hen)(adjective marker making this possessive)] (provisions)

They come to eat my chicken’s grain.


The chickens are messy eaters.



(ta1 men.) (ba3) (si4 liao4) [(san4 luo4)(de.)] (yi2 di4 dou1 shi4)

(they) (grammatical marker indicating the direct object noun has been moved to the front of the sentence) (animal feed) [(to strew or scatter)(grammatical marker linking to description of verb that follows)] (4 word idiom of one + ground + all + to be = all over the place)

They spread grain everywhere.


I don’t mind a little sharing,



(bu2 guo4) (lao3 shu3) (dai4 you3) (bing4 jun4)

(However, but) (mouse) (carry/have) (germs, harmful bacteria)

but mice have germs.


They also are not friendly, so

他們會咬我 或我的母雞。


(ta1 men.) (hui4) (yao3) (wo3) (huo4) (wo3 de.) (mu3 ji1)

(they) (will) (to bite) (me) (or) (my) (chickens)

they will bite me or my chickens.


The cats used to catch more of them, but



[(wo3 men.)(de)] (liang3 zhi1) (mao1) (bian4 de.) (tai4) [(lao3)(le.)]

[(we)+(possessive marker)=our] (two + measure word for cats) (cat) (become + link word indicating descriptive words will follow) (too) [(old) (word indicating completeness)]

our two cats have gotten old.


An old fashioned mouse trap


(只) (可以)[(一隻一隻)(地)](捕捉)(老鼠)。

(zhi3) (ke3 yi3) [(yi1 zhi1 yi1 zhi1)(de.)] (bu3 zhuo1) (lao3 shu3)

(only) (can/able) [(one by one)(adverbial marker)] (to catch) (mouse)

can catch mice one at a time.


This is too slow.



(wo3 men.) (yong4) (shui3 tong3), (han4) (hua1 sheng1 jiang4) (lai2 dai4 ti4)

(we) (to use) (“water” bucket), (and) (peanut butter) (to replace/instead)

Instead, we use a bucket (implied to likely contain water), and peanut butter.


The peanut butter



(fang4 zhi4) (zai4) (qi4 shui3) (guan4 zi.) (shang4)

(to put) (on) (air + water = soda) (can) (on)

is put on a soda can.


This can is threaded onto a stick.



(ran2 hou4), (lao3 shu3) (tiao4) (zai4) (guan4 zi.) (shang4) (de. shi2 hou4)

(then), (mouse) (to jump) (on) (can) (on) (when)

then, when the mouse jumps onto the can,


The can turns and



(lao3 shu3) (diao4 ru4) (shui3) (li3) (yan1 si3)

(mouse) (to fall into) (water) (in) (drown-die)

the mouse falls in to the water and drowns.


There is no time for them to eat the peanut butter,



(suo3 yi3) (wo3 men.) (ke3 yi3) (bu3 zhuo1) (hen3 duo1) ) (lao3 shu3)

(so) (we) (able) (catch) (very many) (mouse)

we can catch many mice!


The number of mice caught



(zhi3 you3) (qu3 jue2 yu2) (wo3 men.) [(you3 duo1 da4)(de.)] (shui3 tong3)

(only) (depends on) (our) [(how big it is)] (bucket)

only depends on how big our bucket is.


Now, I know,



(zhe4 ge.) (shi4) [(zui4)(hao3)(de.)] (ban4 fa3) (bu3 zhuo1) (lao3 shu3)

(this) (to be) [(most) (good) (adjective marker)] (method/scheme) (to catch) (mouse).

this is the best method to catch mice.


A diagram for fun. Natalie Blodgett (who has recently also let me use some of her photos on the blog) quickly drew the mouse for me, but I wrote/drew the rest, such as it is.  :-)

A diagram for fun. Natalie Blodgett (who has recently also let me use some of her photos on the blog) quickly drew the mouse for me, but I wrote/drew the rest, such as it is. 🙂














Here is the audio recorded by my Chinese tutor speaking the Chinese and me reading the English in the coffee shop where we often have my lessons:


Notes on helpful things I learned or was reminded of while writing these sentences:

❶ I was corrected to use 捕捉 (bu3 zhuo1) for “to catch or seize or clutch.” 捕獲 (bu3 huo4) would be the choice if catching something to be profitable, like fish. In the case of fish, one could also say 捕魚 (bu3 yu2) which specifically indicates several are being caught at once, such as in a net; or 釣魚 (diao4 yu2) if only catching them with pole one at a time ; when catching a butterfly or dragonfly use only 捉 (zhuo1) because such critters are thought of as cute and fun.

❷ The Chinese have some very specific vocabulary for invasions. If you say 宰割 (zai3 ge1) it paints images of great slaughter and bloodshed in the hearer’s mind. 侵略 (qin1 lue4), on the other hand emphasizes “plunder” more, although admittedly killing might be involved. Even though the mice are not killing the chickens or us, the second word is more appropriate for these circumstances.

❸ I explained the character 舍 (she4) in lasts week’s Chinese blog, but there was another funny thing about the word that means “chicken hen” The full word is 母雞 (mu3 ji1), but if the word for “step mother” is oddly similar. If you put the 母 (mu3), a basic mother or female character, in front and follow it with 繼 (ji4), which is the same phonetics, but importantly a different tone and means “to succeed”, you could unwittingly find yourself talking about your stepmother’s dormitory!

❹ This is good article for helping to understand the 3 de.’s in Mandarin Chinese.

❺ In Chinese, you don’t just say they 有 (you3) “have” germs, the 帶 (dai4) needs to be put in front to indicate they carry them around

❻ The word 老 (lao3) is used to describe “old” for living things, because it has more to do with age; but 舊 (jiu4) is usually only used for old objects or when comparing something to relative newness.

❼ If the soda can is full, it is usually called a 罐頭 (guan4 tou2), but if it is empty, it is just a 罐子 (guan4 zi.)