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How Things Are Made 如何製成物品 in Chinese



(ㄖㄨˊ ㄏㄜˊ) (ㄕˋ ㄔㄥˊ) (ㄨˋ ㄆㄧㄣˇ)

(ru2 he2) (zhi4 cheng2) (wu4 pin3)

(how to, in what way) (to turn out [a product]) (thing, object + product, good)

How to make things (or How things are made)


When we were discussing all the things it is impossible for me to do in Chinese, my tutor decided it was time to introduce me to the specific vocabulary used when making certain things. She says that while people would probably understand me if I used 做 ㄗㄨㄛˋ (zuo4) for everything, it would not sound right to them. In Chinese, the words that can be generally translated as “to make” vary according to the way something is made.


The word 做 ㄗㄨㄛˋ (zuo4) is used if the hands are directly engaged in the process of making something from scratch, sans motorized machinery.




(ㄐㄧㄣ ㄊㄧㄣ) (ㄨㄛˇ) (ㄗㄨㄛˋ) (ㄇㄧㄢˋ ㄅㄠ)

(jin1 tian1) (wo3) (zuo4) (mian4 bao1)

(today) (I) (to make) (wheat flour bundle)

Today I made bread.


While it is true that nowadays bread is often made in factories, it is traditionally made by hand. If factory-made bread is specifically being spoken of, one of the “to make” verbs below might be used. However, I do make most of our bread at home, so I would use that sentence.




(ㄊㄚ) (ㄗㄨㄛˋ) (ㄏㄣˇ) (ㄉㄨㄛ) (ㄊㄠˊ ㄓㄨㄥ)

(ta1) (zuo4) (hen3) (duo1) (tao2 zhong1)

(she) (to make) (very) (many) (pottery/ceramic bowl)

She made very many ceramic bowls.


You can see here that there is no time specified. We are not told when she did this.


If something is assembled from parts somehow prepared to be attached, one of these words is used:



ㄆㄧㄣ ㄓㄨㄤ

pin1 zhuang1

to assemble



ㄗㄨˇ ㄓㄨㄤ

zu3 zhuang1

to assemble and install



ㄗㄨˇ ㄏㄜˊ

zu3 he2

to assemble


The 「拼」used is the same 拼 ㄆㄧㄣ (pin1) that is used in the character combination 拼音 ㄆㄧㄣ ㄧㄣ (pin1 yin1), which most Chinese learners are familiar with as being the Roman alphabet of the English language used to approximate the sounds of the Chinese language. The literal breakdown of its translation is



(ㄆㄧㄣ) (ㄧㄣ)

(pin1) (yin1)

(to join or piece together, to spell) (sound)




[(ㄊㄚ)(ㄉㄜ˙)](ㄅㄚˋ ㄅㄚ˙) (ㄅㄤ) (ㄊㄚ) (ㄆㄧㄣ ㄓㄨㄤ) (ㄐㄧ ㄑㄧˋ ㄖㄣˊ)

[(ta1)(de.)] (ba4 ba.) (bang1) (ta1) (pin1 zhuang1) (ji1 qi4 ren2)

[(he)+(possessive)=his] (father) (to help) (him) (to assemble, to put together) (machine + instrument + person)

His father helped him build a robot.




(ㄨˇ) (ㄅㄨˋ) (ㄓ ㄉㄠˋ) (ㄖㄨˊ ㄏㄜˊ) (ㄗㄨˇ ㄏㄜˊ) (ㄔㄜ ㄗ˙)

(wo3) (bu4) (zhi1 dao4) (ru2 he2) (zu3 he2) (che1 zi.)

(I) (not) (to know) (how to) (to assemble) (automobile)

I do not know how to make a car.




(ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙) (ㄧ ㄑˇ) (ㄗㄨˇ ㄓㄨㄤ) (ㄆㄧㄣ ㄊㄨˊ ㄨㄢˊ ㄐㄩˋ)

(ta1 men.) (yi1 qi3) (zu3 zhuang1) (pin1 tu2 wan2 ju4)

(they) (together) (to assemble) (jigsaw puzzle)

Together, they finished a jigsaw puzzle.


For things that are typically made with machines, the proper word is 製造 ㄓˋ ㄗㄠˋ (zhi4 zao4)。This is similar to the English word “manufacture.”




(ㄊㄚ) (ㄒㄧˇ ㄏㄨㄢ) (ㄓˋ ㄗㄠˋ) (ㄉㄧㄢˋ ㄋㄠˇ)

(ta1) (xi3 huan1) (zhi4 zao4) (dian4 nao3)

(he) (to like) (to manufacture, to make) (computer)


……….(ㄧㄣ ㄘˇ) (ㄊㄚ) (ㄧㄝˇ) (ㄓㄨㄢˋ) (ㄌㄜ˙) (ㄏㄣˇ) (ㄉㄨㄛ) (ㄑㄧㄢˊ)

……….(yin1 ci3) (ta1) (ye3) (zhuan4) (le.) (hen3) (duo1) (qian2)

……….(as a result) (he) (also) (to earn) (emphasize completion) (very) (much) (money)

He likes to make computers, consequently he also earn a lot of money.


製 ㄓˋ (zhi4) is combined with the character 縫  ㄈㄥˊ (feng2), for “to sew,” in the next sentence for the same basic meaning, since machines have been a part of the sewing process for quite a while now, even at home.



(ㄊㄚ) ( ㄈㄥˊ ㄓˋ) (ㄌㄜ˙) (ㄓㄜˋ) (ㄐㄧㄢˋ) (ㄆㄧㄠˋ ㄌㄧㄤˋ) (ㄉㄜ˙) (ㄧㄤˊ ㄓㄨㄤ)

(ta1) (feng2 zhi4) (zhe4) (jian4) (piao4 liang4) (de.) (yang2 zhuang1)

(she) (to make by sewing) (this) (MW for clothing)❸ (pretty, good looking) (adjective marker) (western-style dress)

She sewed this pretty dress.


This is similar to the use of 製成 ㄓˋ ㄔㄥˊ (zhi4 cheng2) the title and pinnable photo above. 製 ㄓˋ (zhi4) implies a comprehensive meaning that includes all things that are made or produced, whether by hand or machine. 成 ㄔㄥˊ (cheng2) emphasizes that this has been finished.

If you want to read the Chinese on packages in the store, you might see something like one of these lines of these characters:




(ㄊㄞˊ ㄨㄢ) (ㄓˋ ㄗㄠˋ)

(tai2 wan1) (zhi4 zao4)

(Taiwan) (to manufacture, to make)

Made in Taiwan




(ㄇㄟˇ ㄍㄨㄛˊ) (ㄓˋ ㄗㄠˋ)

(mei3 guo2) (zhi4 zao4)

(America) (to manufacture, to make)

Made in America




(ㄖˋ ㄅㄣˇ) (ㄓˋ ㄗㄠˋ)

(ri4 ben3) (zhi4 zao4)

(Japan) (to manufacture, to make)

Made in Japan


If what is made is of a more abstract nature, such as producing a movie or designing a pattern, the correct word is 製作 ㄓˋ ㄗㄨㄛˋ (zhi4 zuo4).




(ㄊㄚ) (ㄓˋ ㄗㄨㄛˋ) [(ㄙㄨㄣ ㄗ˙) (ㄗㄞˋ) (ㄏㄞˇ ㄊㄢ) (ㄨㄢˊ)] (ㄉㄜ˙) (ㄉㄧㄢˋ ㄧㄥˇ)

(ta1) (zhi4 zuo4) [(sun1 zi.) (zai4) (hai3 tan1) (wan2)] (de.) (dian4 ying3)

(she) (to make) [(grandchild) (at) (beach) (to play)] (adjective marker) (movie)

She made a movie of her grandchildren playing at the beach.




(ㄊㄚ) (ㄓˋ ㄗㄨㄛˋ) (ㄋㄚˋ) (ㄕㄡ) (ㄧˋ ㄨㄟˋ ㄕㄣ ㄔㄤˊ) (ㄉㄜ˙) (ㄍㄜ)

(ta1) (zhi4 zuo4) (na4) (shou1) (yi4 wei4 shen1 chang2) (de.) (ge1)

(he) (to make, to produce) (that) (MW for song) (expressive, meaningful) (adjective marker) (song)

He wrote that expressive song.


When something is composed in writing, like a novel, the word is 作文 ㄗㄨㄛˋ ㄨㄣˊ  (zuo4 wen2)。




(ㄊㄚ) (ㄗㄨㄛˋ ㄨㄣˊ) (ㄍㄨㄢ ㄩˊ) (ㄕˇ ㄕ ㄒㄧㄥˋ) (ㄉㄜ˙) (ㄍㄨˋ ㄕˋ)

(ta1) (zuo4 wen2) (guan1 yu2) (shi3 shi1 xing4) (de.) (gu4 shi4)

(she) (to make, to produce) (about, with regard to) (epic) (adjective marker) (story)

She wrote an epic story.


If creativity is of the degree that something is completely original, such as a person creating their own, unique language, then 創造 ㄔㄨㄤˋ ㄗㄠˋ (chuang4 zao4) can be used.




(ㄧㄡˇ ㄕˊ ㄏㄡˋ) (ㄕㄨㄤ  ㄅㄠ ㄊㄞ) (ㄔㄨㄤˋ ㄗㄠˋ) (ㄊㄚ ㄇㄣ˙) (ㄗˋ ㄐㄧˇ) (ㄉㄜ˙) (ㄩˇ ㄧㄢˊ)

(you3 shi2 hou4) (shuang1 bao1 tai1) (chuang4 zao4) (ta1 men.) (zi4 ji3) (de.) (yu3 yan2)

(sometimes) (twins) (create, initiate, bring about, produce) (their) (own) (adjective marker) (language)

Sometimes twins create their own language.


And finally, there is a fun way to say “it was put together from bits and pieces from here and there.”



ㄆㄧㄣ ㄆㄧㄣ ㄘㄡˋ ㄘㄡˋ

pin1 pin1 cou4 cou4

to join or piece together + to gather, pool, or collect




(ㄨㄛˇ ㄉㄜ˙) (ㄌㄠˇ ㄍㄨㄥ) (ㄔㄤˊ ㄔㄤˊ) (ㄆㄧㄣ ㄆㄧㄣ ㄘㄡˋ ㄘㄡˋ) (ㄗㄨㄛˋ) (ㄉㄨㄥ ㄒㄧ) (ㄍㄟˇ) (ㄨㄛˇ)

(wo3 de.) (lao3 gong1) (chang2 chang2) (pin1 pin1 cou4 cou4) (dong1 xi1) (gei3) (wo3)

(my) (husband) (often) (puts pieces together to make) (things) (to give) (me)

My husband often makes me things out of bits and pieces.



❶ The literal translation of this word 拼圖玩具 is

拼 ㄆㄧㄣ (pin1), meaning “piece together”

圖 ㄊㄨˊ (tu2), “a picture or drawing”

玩具 ㄨㄢˊ ㄐㄩˋ (wan2 ju4) literally a “to play implement,” but better translated as “toy.”

So, we have a toy from a picture that is pieced together, or “a jigsaw puzzle.”

❷ What we call “a dress” for women was not part of the Chinese mode of attire until exposed to Western culture. Hence, that specific type of dress is called a 洋裝 ㄧㄤˊ ㄓㄨㄤ (western dress)

❸ For the sake of review, “MW” is a common abbreviation for “measure word.” In Chinese, measure words are used for specific nouns. In this case, it is like speaking of an “article” of clothing. It is comparable to the more old fashioned English way of saying things like “a length of string” or the more modern “a pair of shoes.” Such word usage is more prevalent in Chinese grammar.

❹ Names of countries can be some of the hardest or easiest vocabulary to remember. They are almost always an attempt at translating the sounds of what the people of a given country call it, but since not all language have all sounds, the end result can be very creative.

❺ In Chinese, all the adjectives or modifiers of the noun are listed, then connected to the noun being described by the character 的 ㄉㄜ˙ (de.).

❻ Once again, understanding the literal translation can be helpful is what might otherwise seem to be a complex word. In order, the characters in this row mean

史 ㄕˇ (shi3) history

詩 ㄕ (shi1) poem

性 ㄒㄧㄥˋ (xing4) quality

To the Chinese, that is what defines “epic.”

❼ I think this word is fun, because it literally mean “former or old affair.”

故 ㄍㄨˋ (gu4) former, old

事 ㄕˋ (shi4) affair, matter