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How to Eat a Midnight Snack 怎麼吃宵夜 in Chinese

midnight snack




(zen3 me.) (chi1) (xiao1 ye4)

(how to) (to eat) (midnight snack)❾

How to eat a midnight snack.



It is something that is hard to ignore.

有時候我嘗試睡覺, 可是我的肚子在叫!


(you3 shi2 hou4) (wo3) (chang2 shi4) (shui4 jiao4), (ke3 shi4) (wo3 de.) (du4 zi.) [(zai4)(jiao4]

(sometimes) (I) (attempt to) (to sleep), (but) (my) (stomach) [(-ing)(shout, cry, call)]

Sometimes when I try to sleep, but my stomach is yelling.


There is only one solution if I want to sleep.



(wo3) (xu1 yao4) (zhao4 chu1) (yi1 xie1) (xiao1 ye4) (lai2) (chi1)

(I) (must) (find out) (some) (midnight snack) (to come) (to eat)

I must find a midnight snack.


It isn’t necessarily easy.



(yin1 wei4) (lao3 gong) [(zai4)(shui4 jiao4)], (wo3) (dei3) [(tou1 tou1 mo1 mo1)(de.)] (qi2 chuang2)

(because) (old man)❷ [(-ing)(to sleep)], (I) (must) [(stealth)(ily)] (get out of bed)

Because my husband is sleeping, I must sneak out of bed.


It is like I am a little child again.



(da4 gai4) (mei3 ge.) (hai2 zi.) (dou1) (tou1 chi1) (guo4) (dong1 xi1)…

(most probably) (every) (child) (all) (sneak food)❹ (indicating past tense of previous verb) (things)…

Probably every child has snuck something to eat….


Sometimes, I am not trying to sleep.



(you3 shi2 hou4) (wo3 men.) (tiao4 wu3) [(zhi2) (dao4)] (ban4 ye4)

(sometimes) (we) (to dance) [(straight) + (to arrive) = until, up to] (in the middle of the night)

Sometimes we dance until midnight.


That uses a lot of calories.



(chang2 chang2) (tiao4 wu3) (yi3 hou4) (wo3 men.) (qu4) (mai4 dang1 lao2) (mai3) (shu3 tiao2)

(often) (to dance) (after) (we) (to go) (McDonalds) (to buy) (potato strips)

Often after dancing, we go to McDonalds to by French fries.


When I order, they never ask me,



(wei4 shen2 me.) (ni3 men.) (zhe4 me.) (wan3) (chi1)

(why, for what reason) (you all) (this) (late) (to eat)

“Why are you eating this late?”


For some reason,



(wo3) (jue2 de.) [(ban4 ye4)(de.)] (shi2 hou4) (chi1) (shu3 tiao2) (zui4) (hao3 chi1)

(I) (think, feel) [(midnight)(adjective marker)] (when) (to eat) (French fries) (most) (delicious)

I think that French fries eaten at midnight are the most delicious.


I think McDonald’s has the right idea.



(gu4 ke4) (zong3 shi4) [(dui1)(de.)]

(customer) (always) [(correct)(adjective marker)]

The customer is always right.


Their job is to be ready.



(ru2 guo3) (gu4 ke4) (xu1 yao4) (dian3 xin1), (zong3 shi4) (sui2 shi2) (zhun3 bei4 hao3)(ke3 yi3) (mai4) (gei3) (gu4 ke4)

(if) (customer) (want) (snack), (always) (at all times) (good and ready) (able) (to sell) (to give) (customer)

If the customer wants a snack, always be ready at any time to sell it to the customer.


Here is the audio, with me reading the English and my tutor reading the Chinese:


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

❶ In English, most of us think that saying we are going to find a midnight snack implies eating it, too, but apparently the structure of Chinese needs the additional confirmation that the plan is to eat it when found.

(read here for a lesson in How to Talk About Your Husband in Chinese)

❸Even though “every” has already been specified, it is common in Chinese to add the 都 (dou1) “all” for emphasis.

❹Yes, in Chinese, there is a specific word that means “to sneak food.”

❺After a while, you start to get used to the fact that positional words come after the noun or verb involved.

❻One of the more difficult things for me in Chinese is the lack of capitalization, due to the nature of the written characters, to designate proper names.

❼ The Chinese word for “midnight snack” is very specific, 宵夜 (xiao1 ye4), which literally means “to need or take in the darkness of night.” However, if you want a snack at other times of day, the word 點心 (dian3 xin1) is used, which is like saying “a little something to help you take heart.”

❽ The first time I wrote this sentence, I only used the 賣 (mai4) “to sell”, and didn’t use the 給 (gei3) “to give,” but instructed that without the adding the 給 (gei3) after the 賣 (mai4), one is speaking of “selling the customer”, not “selling TO the customer.” Oops.

❾ The Chinese 宵夜 (xiao1 ye4) can be translated either “late night” or “midnight,” really meaning any snack that is well after normal evening meal times.