Here are China’s oldest living couple, Jin Jifen, 106, and her husband Yang Shengzhong, 109.  The couple has been married for almost 90 years and has established five generations of offspring.  They have been living in the same small village in Guizhou province for more than 100 years.

Yang describes his wife as saying, “She has been nice to me my whole life and still cooks for me,” while Jin describes it as such: “I can’t live without working." 

Daily Tidbit: Instrument

乐器 (yuè qì) Instrument

Can you play a musical instrument乐器 (yuè qì)? Learning to play an instrument is like learning to speak another language and can be challenging at times. You have to set time aside each day to practice, and then practice again and again. What musical instruments do you play? How long have you been playing your instrument?  Tell us!

ninhao's Daily Tidbit: 同时 Vs. 不约而同

Sometimes there are some terms with which people get confused when first studying Putonghua; these are two of those tricky terms.  Though they are similar in nature, they are most definitely different.

同时 (tóngshí)means “simultaneous” and describes two things that happen at the same time; it is often used with “的” (de) and used to modify a noun, for example, “同时的事情” (tóngshí de shìqíng) meaning "a simulaneous event”.

On the other hand, “不约而同” (bù yuē ér tóng) describes a “coincidence” or two events that happen to coinicide"; while it is like 同时 in which two things are happening at the same time (simultaneous), with 不约而同 it is expressly stated that these two things are not happening in accordance with each other and is not planned or arranged.

To explain “同时”(simultaneous) we have the example:

  • “哇哦,那么巧!我们俩同时到了学校” (Wa ó, nàme qiǎo!  Wǒmen liǎ tóngshí dào le xuéxiào)

which means “Wow, what a coincidence!  We both arrived at school at the same time.”

On the other hand, to explain “不约而同”(coincidence) we have the example:

  • “虽然我们班只有二十几个学生,但是今天四个女学生不约而同地穿上红色的毛衣。” (Suīrán wǒmen bān zhǐ yǒu èrshí jǐ ge xuésheng, dànshì jīntiān sì gè nǚxuéshēng bùyuēértóng de chuān shàng hóngsè de máoyī 。)

which means “Even though our class only has about twenty students, four girls [in the class] are coincidentally all wearing red sweaters today.”

Do you want to start learning Putonghua?  Make reading this post a happy coincidence!  Sign up with ninhao’s free lessons today!

Differentiating Between Homophones: "Ji"

We here at ninhao had previously told you about how Chinese Mandarin is a tonal language with four distinct tones (and one tone-less one).  We had brought you the story of differentiating between the different tones of “qi”; now we’ll tell you about the four tones of “ji” with four corresponding characters:

  • 机 “Jī” uses the first high tone, and it is a character that has to do with “machines” or “aeroplanes”, like the words “手机” (Shǒujī, meaning “mobile phone”) or “飞机” (Fēijī, meaning “plane”), or having to do with “opportunity” or “chance”, like as in “机会” (Jīhuì, meaning “opportunity”).
  • 极 “Jí” uses the second rising tone, and it is a character that has to do with “level, rank, or grade”, as in the word “高级” (Gāojí, meaning “high level”).
  • 几 “Jǐ” uses the third low rising tone as is a measure word meaning “how many” as in “几点” (Jǐ diǎn, meaning “what time”) or “几个人” (Jǐ gèrén, meaning how many people), or it can mean “a few” or “several” as in “几夜” (Jǐ yè, meaning “a few nights).
  • 济 "Jì” uses the fourth falling tone, and it is a character that has to do with “aid, relief, or help”; it can be often seen in words like “经济” (Jīngjì, meaning “economy”).

These homophones all sound the same but use different tones; now, you know a character for each tone, and can better differentiate between them.  Mandarin can be that simple!

Want to learn Chinese?  Come learn with us, ninhao, the Chinese education specialists!


“All stick and no carrot.”

Keepers at the Chengdu Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan province use a long stick to feed the pandas apples in order to “encourage the giant pandas to exercise and remain energetic using food rewards”.  

You know, ever since the release of “Kung Fu Panda”, all pandas are expected to keep the lithe and taut figure of a fresh Jack Black.


“Because all able students should be able to think on their own two feet.”

Faced with a shortage of chairs, the domineering and enterprising spirit of the students of Xi'an University of Electronic Science and Technology did what they had to do - to make do with what they can invent.

The chairs, on the other hand, were all taken away to be used for a ceremony, waiting.

A popular pastime for elderly residents of China is to perform calligraphy upon the surface of a road or sidewalk, as seen here in his recent photo taken in Beijing.

Using plain water as the ink, the characters are written using a brush so large that it can be mistaken for a mop.  To underscore the temporary nature of this art, the characters written on the left side of the picture are seen to be already drying out.


“Holy cow.”

In Jiangcheng (江城; Jiāngchéng) Yunnan province (云南; Yúnnán), an International Buffalo Body Painting Contest was held recently that saw 48 teams compete from 10 different countries including Laos, the USA and others.

According to legend, body painting on buffalos can drive away tigers and leopards and prevent cattle being preyed on.