(ta1) (hen3)❶ (xiang3 jia1)
(she) (very) (think of home with longing/homesick)
She is very homesick.
She is working far away from home.
(wo3) (xiang3) [(bu4) (jiu3) (yi3 qian2)] (ta1) [(hai2) (shi4)] (xiao3) (hai2 zi.)
(I) (think) [(not) (long) (by means of front/before)] (she) [(still) (is)] (small) (child)
I am thinking it was not long ago she was still a child.
Right now, she does not have anyone around to ask
“(ni3) (xiang3 yao4) (chi1) (shen2 me.)?”
“(you) (think/want) (eat) (what)?”
“What do you think you’d like to eat?”
Of course, when she is talking to me, I tell her
(wo3) (yao4) (ni3) (zuo4) (bing3 gan1) (gei3) (wo3).
(I) (want) (you) (to make) (cookie, biscuit, cracker) (to give) (me)
I want you to make me cookies.
Next thing I know, she has done it and written a blog about it.
Maybe she will meet a friend and be able to say
“(ni3) ) (xiang3 yao4) (qu4) (kan4) (na3 ge.) (dian4 ying3)?”
“(you) (think-want) (go) (see) (which) (movie)?”
“Which movie would you like to consider❷ seeing?”
Even the summer weather has been uncooperative. She sometimes has to decide
(ru2 guo3) (ming2 tian1) [(xia4) (xue3)] (de.hua4), (wo3) (xiang3) (jiu4) [(bu2) (yao4)] [(pao) (de.)] (tai4) (yuan3).
(if) (tomorrow) [(to fall) (snow)] (the back end of the “if” phrase), (I) (think) (right then) [(not) (want)] [(to run) (adverbial expletive indicates descriptor is going to follow)] (too) (far).
If it is snowing tomorrow, then I think I don’t want to run too far.
Frequently she tells me
“(wo3) (xiang3) (du2) (zhe4 ben3) (shu1).”
“(I) (think) (to read) (this/measure word for book) (book).”
“I’m thinking about reading this book.”
“(wo3) (xiang3) (wo3) [(bu4) (ke3 neng2)] (deng3 dai4) [(hui2) (jia1) (de) (shi2 hou4)!”
“(I) (think) (I) [(not) (possible)] (wait until) [(return) (home) (turning previous phrase into an adjective describing next phrase) (time)]!”
I think I cannot wait until it is time to go home!
I often tell her
(ni3) (ying1 gai1) (you3) (bi3 jiao4) [(qie4 yi4) (de.)] (xiang3 fa.).
(you) (should) (have) (comparatively) [(satisfied/warm) (adjective marker)] (way of thinking, ideas).
Try to think warm, contented thoughts.
It is helpful that
(ta1) (you3) [(hao3) (de.)] (xiang3 xiang4 li4).
(she) (to have) [(good) (adjective marker)] (imagining power)
She has a good imagination.
This helps her come up with creative solutions because
(yi1 xie1) [(gong1 zuo4) (de.) (ren)] (chang2 chang2) (you3) [(xiang3 bu2 dao4)❼ (de.) (xing2 jing4)]
(some) [(work) (adjective marker) (people)] (often) (have) [(unexpected) (adjective marker) (behavior)]
Some of her co-workers have unexpected behavior.
Sometimes you just have to admit
(ta1) [(xiang3) (bu4) (tong1)] (wei4 shen2 me.) (bie2 ren2) (hui4) (na3 ge.) (zuo4).
(she) [(think) (not) (understand)] (why) (other people) (will) (this) (do).
She cannot figure out why people do these things.
But even though
(ta1) (xiang3 nian4) [(jai1) (li3) (de.)] (mei3 ge.) (ren2),
(she) (think/miss) [(home) (in) (adjective marker)] (every) (people),
She thinks about missing everyone at home,
(ta1) (yao4) [(bao3)(you3)] (gong1 zuo4)
(she) (want) [(keep) (have)] (work) (to do))
She wants to keep her job.
No one other than herself is making her stay.
(ta1) (jue2 ding4) (deng3 dai4) (si4 ge.)❹ (yue4), (ran2 hou4) (ta1) (hui) [(hui2) (jia1)].
(she) (to decide) (to wait until) (four) (month), (then) (she) (will) [(return) (home)].
She has decided to wait four months, then she will come home.
Notes on helpful things I learned or was reminded of while writing these sentences:
❷ There is the slightest nuance of difference between 想要 (xiang3 yao4) “think to want” and 要 (yao4) “want” in Chinese, much like there is in English. The first phrase is a little more contemplative, and the second more direct, but in every day conversation it doesn’t matter much.
❸ In Chinese the phrase meaning “if” is commonly a grammatical sandwich. That is the first part of the “if” 如果 (ru2 guo3) is at the beginning of the sentence, the qualifying phrase in the middle, and the second part of the “if” 的話 (de. hua4) is added before going on to say “then thus-and-so will happen” Structurally, it looks like this: 如果。。。。的話，。。。。
❹ 本 (ben3) in this sentence is what is called a “measure word”. It is the measure word for book. These measure words are added on to a given number to indicate an exact count. A good comparison in English is how we say, “a stack of paper”, “a herd of elephants”, or “six yards of silk.” Stack, herd, and yards are all words that help define the number unit. However, in Chinese, there are measure words in instances where in English we would just be happy saying “a” or “this”, as in “a book”. Or “a coat.” In Chinese, you have to say “a (measure word) coat.” The measure word often has to do with the shape of the thing. Also, 個 (ge.) is the most common measure word and seems to be being used in place of other measure words sometimes now.
❺ My tutor says I should use the Chinese vocabulary for “comparatively“ here, because it softens the phrase and makes it seem less like a command in Chinese.
❻ The Chinese character 力 (li4), meaning “power”, turns up in a lot of places that I would not expect, based on English vocabulary, but that make very descriptive sense.
❼ When I am trying to remember the meaning of Chinese vocabulary, sometimes I play my own word games. Like for this word 想不到 (xiang3 bu2 dao4) means “unexpectedly”, which if I dissect the characters means “think+not+arrive”. I can remember it by saying, “I was thinking and I didn’t arrive at or expect this outcome,” thus it was “unexpected.”