A student recently asked us:
A question about a small word in lesson 7…..qu
It appears to mean area/neighbourhood/suburb in “Wo zhu zai Sydney qu” (apologies, I don’t know how to add the accents to define the tones).
But this doesn’t seem to fit in “Ni qu guo Australia?” Can you please supply a literal translation, this might help if it has the same meaning…or does the meaning change with the position in the sentence?
Thank you for writing to us! Let me get straight down to business:)
You are right, the character 区 Qū does mean district/area, but, in your example of 你去过澳大利亚吗？(Nǐ QùGuo ÀoDàLìYà Ma?)
a different ‘qu’ is used, 去 (Qù). This Qù means ‘to go’, so the whole sentence would be translated as:
Have you been to Australia or Have you gone to Australia?
Does that make sense to you?
I know that it’s easy to get confused with Pinyin, because there’s a limited number of syllables that are used out there, so they get repeated a lot. That’s why it’s crucial that we also study the tones at the same time.
And for those who can take it, characters too:)
But sometimes even that isn’t enough – as I’m sure you’ve already found out for yourself, Chinese tends not to be explicit enough, so, often some guesswork has to be done.
Let us know if you have any more questions!