How to Use Chinese Punctuation

Posted by Fifi Yang on Dec 21, 2016

Chinese punctuation

'。' is the full stop, we called it '句号(jù hào)' in Chinese. Unlike the solid full stop in English, Chinese full stop is hollow. Being a mark to end the speech, full stop can be used after imperative sentences and declarative sentences.

e.g.: 1. 请您稍等一下。
Please kindly wait a moment.

2. 深圳是一个漂亮的城市。
Shenzhen is a beautiful city.

'?' is the question mark, '问号(wèn hào)' , which used at the end of a question sentence.

e.g.: 你叫什么名字?
What's your name?

'!' is the exclamation mark that used at the end of a exclamation sentence.

e.g.: 天气真好啊!
What a nice weather!

',' is the comma, '逗号' (dòu hào), used in the middle of a sentence where needs a pause.

e.g.: 被告人有辩护权,这一辩护权受到宪法的保障。
The accused has the right to defense, which is guaranteed by the constitution.

'、' is the ideographic comma that especially used in Chinese and Japanese. We named it 顿号(dùn hào). The usage of this mark is equivalent to ',' in English when we use it to separate several para tactic items in a list.

e.g.: 被告人,请告诉法庭你的姓名、化名、出生年月日、民族、文化程度、工作单位和居住地。
The Defendant, please state to court of your full name, alias, date of birth, nationality, educational background, business address and home address.

';' is the semicolon, we named it '分号(fēn hào)'. There are two common usages for semicolon in Chinese.

Firstly, it can be used to separate two coordinate clauses.

e.g.: 春天,像一幅画;而夏天,像一首诗。
Spring is like a painting while summer is like a poem.

Secondly, a semicolon can be used to separate the terms and conditions that list in different lines.

e.g.: 鉴于许可人拥有设计、生产、安装以及销售芯片的专有技术;

Whereas the Licensor possesses know-how for the designing, manufacturing, installing and marketing of chips;

Whereas the Licensor has the right and desires to transfer the said know-how to the Licensee;

Now, therefore, in consideration of the premises and the mutual conveniences, through consultation, the Licensor and Licensee agree to enter into this Contract under the terms and conditions set forth as follows.

':' is the colon, '冒号(mào hào)'. In English, a colon always precedes an explanation or an enumeration. While in Chinese, a colon an also be added behind a word like 'say, state, point out…' to bring out a speech of a person.

e.g.: 他高兴地说:"我结婚了!"
'I'm married!' he says with excitement.

'《》' is called '书名号(shū míng hào)'. As the name implies, this mark is aim to indicate a book, magazine or a name of a song, a drama and so forth.

e.g.: 我喜欢欧内斯特·米勒尔·海明威写的《老人与海》。
I love the book The Old Man and The Sea that wrote by Ernest Miller Hemingway.

'· ' is middot, known as '间隔号(jiàn gé hào)' in Chinese. As you can see in the above example, we often add a middot between a foreigner's first name, middle name and last name.

A language-obtaining progress requires long-term efforts, and there are still many other punctuation marks that haven't been mentioned in the article. Want to learn more about Chinese? Click here to learn Chinese with us!

About The Author

Fifi Yang

Fifi Yang is a Chinese learning teacher at Hanbridge Mandarin. Having spent a great number of years learning French, Fifi understands the challenges of learning a language. She puts this experience to good use while preparing and delivering classes to her students.

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