Little Dog Wears Shoes

A short, sweet, very simple read about a boy, his dog, and a new pair of shoes.

In this story, the name of the young boy is 浩浩 hào hào, and you’ll see those two characters a lot. You’ll also see in several places that characters are sometimes doubled up. When writing is intended for young children, you’ll often see characters repeated twice. For example, while 小狗 means ‘dog’, 狗狗 might be equivalent to “doggie” – it’s essentially baby-talk.

There is one difficult little clause in this text, which is: 扯着衣角. Let’s examine it piece-by-piece. 扯 chě means to pull at something. 着 [pinyin]zhe5[/pinyin], in this instance, means “ing”, or “while doing”. So we’ve now got “Pulling at…”. Then there’s 衣 yī, meaning “clothing”, so we now have “Pulling at clothing…”. And finally 角 jiǎo, corner. So the sentence reads “Pulling at clothing corner”, or in better English, “Pulling at the corner of his clothes”.

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Show English translation »
Mama bought three-year-old Hao Hao a new pair of shoes, Hao Hao put them on and turned this way and that looking at them [lit: turned left and looked, turned right and looked]. The household dog ran over and licked Hao Hao’s shoes.

Hao Hao looked up, and naively said: “Mama, is doggie cold? Why doesn’t it wear shoes?” Mama smoothly said: “Go and ask it.”

So Hao Hao looked down, and in the dog’s ear said: “Little doggie, are you cold? Should I give you some shoes to wear?” Suddenly he loudly shouted, “Mama, doggie said he’s cold, it nodded its head at me!”

Not long after, Hao Hao took off his own shoes, and put them on the dog’s two front feet.

“Mama, there are still two feet missing!”

“Which two feet are missing?”

“Doggie is still missing shoes for two of his feet…”

Before he’d finished speaking, the dog barked woof woof woof, and ran away. Hao Hao hung his head, blushing, and he pulled at the corner of his clothes, too embarrassed to go to his mother, and he called out: “The dog ran off wearing the new shoes, the dog and I are now the same, we both have two bare feet!

36 replies on “Little Dog Wears Shoes”

Can you please explain the way “zhe” and “lai” are used in the text? As I understand, zhe means a completed action, but what’s the difference between zhe and le? And as far as I know, lai means “to come”, so what does it mean in the third sentence of the story? Thank you, I would appreciate your reponse.

Hm, well, 着 and 了 don’t have much in common. But both “zhe” 着 and “lai” 来 are used a whole bunch of different ways. Luckily for us in this particular story, 着 is simply “zhe” (it has lots of pronunciations), and is being used in the most traditional sense of the word. It’s similar to the English suffix “ing”, like “running”, “jumping”, etc. So it’s not a completed action, but an action in progress. Zhe is used a lot here:

浩浩低着头、红着脸、扯着衣角,不好意思地向妈妈走去,嘴里念叨着: “…”

Maybe it would help if I re-translate that as: “Hao Hao, hanging his head, with a reddening face, picking at the corner of his jacket, went over to his mother in embarrassment, saying: “…”

See all those “ing”s? HangING his head, reddenING face, etc. That’s where “zhe” comes in. I just didn’t write it quite that way in my translation above because it didn’t read quite right in English.

In terms of 来, it does mean “come” much of the time, but it doesn’t mean that here. Here, this: 仰起头来 is actually just this: 仰头 plus this: 起来. Not really sure why you can flip the 头 and the 起 in this case, but I’m guessing because “head” 头 is a thing, and 仰 is an action. We could say 仰起来, “to raise up” easily, but now where in this sentence do we say what we are raising up? 仰起头来 is probably like the English “Raise one’s head up.”

Also, consider this Chinese phrase, in which lai has a similar meaning:

我抬起头来看. This just means “I raised my head and looked.” It does not mean, “I raised my head, came / went somewhere, and looked.”

So, 浩浩仰起头来 just plain means “Hao Hao faced upward” (previously, he was facing downwards, we can presume). And as we know, 起来, in this case indicates that an action went from one state to another state. If you’re not familiar with 起来, other examples of this would be 站起来 (to stand up, when you are sitting or lying down), 跑起来 (to start running), etc.

Thanks for this. It was very useful. Just reading your “About” section, I think it would be also really useful if you also included a section of your experiences learning Chinese. If you were to learn Chinese again, what you would do differently? What did you find really help consolidate and complement your learning? Which books/audio/software etc would you recommend! Your wisdom is much appreciated!

Sorry for the wait on the response – I’ve been on the move back to China. Truth is, I learned Chinese in Beijing, and my recommendation for learning Chinese is to move here – I’ve yet to meet anyone who learned perfect Chinese without being forced to practice on a regular basis (though they must exist) and even now after quite a while here, I wouldn’t consider myself fluent. I realize that doesn’t help the majority of learners, who can’t make that kind of jump for the sake of learning a language, but total immersion is the one thing I’ve seen really work. And truth be told, sometimes that doesn’t even work – I have friends that have been here 15 years that can only speak enough to get around. Though this flies in the face of everything all my teachers ever said to me, my recommendation is that if you’re abroad, I’d focus on one thing – reading or speaking, and jump in with both feet. If it’s speaking and listening you want to do the most, sign up for and listen to a podcast over breakfast or while getting dressed in the morning. If it’s reading you want to do the most, set yourself to translating small blips you find online and learning to recognize 20 words a week.

I was looking for something to teach chinese reading and just found this blog. That’s a nice method for learning and I’m loving it. One of my dreams is to learn this language to be able to read chinese tech documents.

I have a suggestion for you: add a link to a gift animation which shows how each character from a post is done (calligraphy). I hope it also helps us to memorize the characters better.

Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

Hi paul, glad you like! If I could find a script that would do that with the text characters, I might use it. Out of curiosity, what kind of tech documents are we talking about? I might be able to post some.

Hi again, I was talking about computer related stuff, specially about programming languages documents, but can be any kind of information about computers in general.

I stumbled upon your website and i am LOVING the the fact that I can use my mouse to roll over words I do not know and the pin ying and definition appears. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!!!

xie xie nin!

Ty so much for this site! I am learning Mandarin in school its been a year now and this site is really helping me. I’ve only been learning for a year though but I hope to continue and hopefully become fluent. It is very hard but i have the dedication for it! So thank you once again:)

Thanks for the awesome website. It’s really interesting and a valuable resource for those of use trying to learn to read Chinese!

WOW WOW WOW Kendra!!I must say I have been looking for a site like yours for years, sometimes it feel like I am the only one not understanding Chinese grammar, your way of explaining it makes it perfectly understandable, especially as a non native speaker. Thank you thank you for your time and effort. You won’t believe how much it means to me!Thank you and happy New Year

Sure! Now someone just needs to scrape up several thousand bucks a month so I can quit my job and read Chinese into a microphone 8 hours a day. 🙂

You dont happen to have a traditional version of these texts do you? It would help me personally a lot. As well as anyone else learning traditional instead of simplified

Kendra don’t ever stop posting these stories! They are so good and they keep me busy
They have an English tamslation too so
that helps A LOT!!!!!!

I just happened to find this site while searching for some chinese stories.. it’s cool since I’m beginner in chinese.. this helps a lot! 谢谢!

I did the HSK 12 years ago when I first came to China, and I can’t even remember what my score was. Abysmal, I’m sure. I keep telling myself I should take it again for kicks, but meh.

By far one of THE best Chinese learning sites I’ve ever seen or used! Even suggested it to my Chinese class! Helps immensely for supplementary as well as to stimulate the brain cells 😀 Thanks a TON Kendra! Very insightful! 太謝謝你了!

Thank you so much, what a great resource! I’m slowly trying to read through your stories and finding them really helpful, cheers from down under.

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