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How to Wash the Dishes 怎麼洗碗盤 in Chinese

Chinese traditional characters for saying "wash dishes", with tones underneath, the definition in English, then the bopomofo phonetic symbols, with the pinyin in the last row, showing that the tone over "xi" changes to a 2nd tone because of the other 3rd tone following.

Chinese traditional characters for saying “wash dishes”, with tones underneath, the definition in English, then the bopomofo phonetic symbols, with the pinyin in the last row, showing that the tone over “xi” changes to a 2nd tone because of the other 3rd tone following.

It happens every day

大家吃飯, 然後我要洗很多碗盤。

(大家)(吃飯), (然後)(我)(要)(洗)(很多)(碗盤)。

(da4 jia1) (chi1 fan4), (ran2 hou4) (wo3) (yao4) (xi3) (hen3 duo1) (wan3 pan2)

(whole family) (to eat), (then) (I) (must) (to wash) (very many) (dishes)

The whole family eats, then I must wash many dishes.

 

They don’t eat just once a day, either.

從早到晚,他們吃很多東西。

(從)(早)(到)(晚),(他們)(吃)(很多)(東西)❶。

(cong2) (zao3) (dao4) (wan3), (ta1 men.) (chi1) (hen3 duo1) (dong1 xi1)

(from) (early) (until) (late), (they) (to eat) (very many) (east + west = things)

From morning until late in the day, they eat many things.

 

I must admit that

我也用碗盤吃飯。

(我)(也)(用)(碗盤)(吃飯)。

(wo3) (ye3) (yong4) (wan3 pan2) (chi1 fan4)

(I) (also) (to use) (dishes) (to eat)

I also use dishes to eat.

 

If we didn’t,

地板會變❷得太髒兮兮。

(地板)(會)(變得)(太)(髒兮兮)❸。

(di4 ban3) (hui4) (bian4 de.) (tai4) (zang4 xi1 xi1)

(floor) (will) (to become) (too) (dirty)

the floor would become too dirty.

 

I know

他們都試試看幫我清潔廚房。

(他們)(都)(試試看)(幫)(我)(清潔)❹(廚房)。

(ta1 men.) (dou1) (shi4 shi4 kan4) (bang1) (wo3) ( qing1 jie2) (chu2 fang2)

(they) (all) (try) (to help) (me) (to clean) (kitchen)

they all try to help me clean the kitchen.

 

But in the end,

我得確定從頭到尾廚房是乾淨的。

(我)(得)(確定)(從頭到尾)(廚房)(是)[(乾淨)(的)]。

(wo3) (dei3) (que4 ding4) (cong2 tou2 dao4 wei4) (chu2 fang2) (shi4) [(gan1 jing4)(de.)]

(I) (must) (to make sure) (4 word idiom of from + head + to/until + tail/bottom = thorough) (kitchen) (to be) [(clean)(indicates this is an adjective)]

I must make sure the kitchen is thoroughly clean.

 

I could get frustrated,

不過,我記得,

(不過),(我)(記得),

(bu2 guo4), (wo3) (ji1 de.)

(however), (I) (remember)

but then, I remember,

 

not only do I love them, but

每個人需要吃食物❺!

(每個)(人)(需要)(吃)(食物)!

(mei3 ge.) (ren2) (xu1 yao4) (chi1) (shi2 wu4)

(every one) (person) (to need) (to eat) (food things)

everyone needs to eat food!

 

And so, I choose to

一邊洗碗盤,一邊唱歌。

(一邊)(洗)(碗盤),(一邊)(唱)(歌)。

(yi1 bian1) (xi3) (wan3 pan2), (yi1 bian1) (chang4) (ge1)

(one side) (to wash) (dishes), (one side) (to sing) (song)

sing while I wash dishes.

 

If I do that,

然後 大家都最快樂。

(然後)(大家)(都)(最)(快樂)。

(ran2 hou4) (da4 jia1) (dou1) (zui4) (kuai4 le.)

(then) (whole family) (all) (most) (happy)

then the whole family is the most happy.

 

The audio below is me reading the English and my tutor reading the Chinese. Trust me, she made me read the Chinese over and over with her during the lesson, but for the sake of anyone learning, it is best they hear her, a native speaker, pronounce things to perfection:

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

❶ This is one of the first Chinese words I learned. It stuck with me because it is so descriptive: the two characters 東西 (dong1 xi1) mean “east” and “west,” which is a bit of metaphor for “all those things out there.”

❷ Although this character 變 (bian4) means “to become,” one has to be a little careful how it is used. In combination with 變成 (bian4 cheng2), it means actually metamorphisis, or to change, into something else. But with 得 (de.) it can just indicate a less complete change, or simply an alteration of state without changing in substance.

❸ This 3 character word is fun to say, which makes it easy to remember. It helps the memory to have fun saying the words.

❹ These two words both mean “clean”, but 清潔 (qing1 jie2) means “to clean” and 乾淨 (gan1 jing4) describes something as clean. Just one of those cases where a word that doubles as both a verb and an adjective in English is two different words in Chinese

❺ 物 (wu4) is a useful little word that also means “thing.” It is added to other words to in a general way to indicate a broad category. For instance, a “moving thing” 動物 (dong4 wu4), is an animal.

 

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