East Asia Student

Random Stuff Related to East Asia


Chinese Grammar Wiki Anki decks

John Pasden at AllSet Learning has kindly let me take content from the Chinese Grammar Wiki and make Anki decks with it. I’m planning to go through all of the language levels A1 - B2 and make Anki decks from them, tagging each fact with the appropriate level. I’d recommend that you merge these decks into an existing Chinese deck, rather than studying them separately.

Each deck has all of the example sentences from the given level and English translations, as well as pinyin generated by the Pinyin Toolkit. So far I’ve only done A1, but will be gradually adding the rest.

I’m making them as separate decks to make it easier for people to download and use the level/s they want. Once I’ve done all four I’ll make a combined deck and upload it to the Anki share server as well.


There are a few issues I should point out with these decks.

The biggest one is probably that the sentences in the Anki deck are taken out of the context of the Grammar Wiki. I’d strongly recommend that you read through the articles for the level you want to study before getting started with the Anki deck.

This lack of context causes a few problems. One is that at the A1 level, the sentences are so simple that sometimes I found it hard to think of a situation where you would actually say it that way. They’re important for beginners as they lay down basic sentence structure, but inevitably real world usage is going to be a bit fiddlier. Just be aware of that.

I also had translation issues with some of the sentences. My rule was to just translate them as idiomatically as possible for the situation I had in mind, so in some cases they stray slightly from the original. Some examples, please suggest better translations (that applies to the whole deck):

  • 你喜欢他,是吗? I translated this as “You like him, don’t you?” Putting “right?” on the end seemed a bit weird, even though it was a closer translation.
  • 给我们十二瓶葡萄酒,可以吗? This seems to be taking place in a shop, so I translated it as: “We’ll take 12 bottles of wine, if that’s alright” Even then it seems a bit strange…
  • 他不热。 I translated this as “He doesn’t feel hot”, as I think “He’s not hot” can only mean “He’s ugly” in English.
  • 你妈妈呢? I just couldn’t think of a non-funny translation of this. Anything involving “your mum” is immediately funny, but then “your mother” seems more formal than “你妈妈”. The translation of this is also particularly context-dependent. In the end I went with “And your mother?”
  • There were also a couple of cases where two sentences could be identical in English. I could have got round that by using different phrasings in English, but I didn’t want to mislead beginners into thinking there’s a standarised different translation for e.g. “好吗?” and “好不好?”. Again, it’s all down to context.

    I didn’t include the structure diagrams shown in the Grammar Wiki, as I think the benefit of the Anki deck is getting exposure to the sentences rather than memorising structures. If you can read and produce all the example sentences for a structure, then you’ve learnt the structure in my view, even if you can’t write it out.

    On a more minor note, the pinyin is auto-generated, so there might be mistakes there. I did my best to proof-read them, but I’ve probably missed some. Another small issue is that the pinyin toolkit produces readings with every syllable separated. Seeing as the readings shouldn’t be the main focus of study, I don’t think that really matters. Also, the toolkit is inconsistent with tone change rules”); sometimes it shows them and sometimes it doesn’t (usually it doesn’t).

    And finally, the A1 deck contains a few number cards. The Mandarin numbers Anki deck that I made is also good if you really want to get fast with numbers in Chinese. It works wonders!