And now a break from all the intermediate and advanced exercises I’ve been posting lately. This one is a straightforward beginner Chinese diary-style essay about a student whose mother is displeased with his (or her, it’s never clarified) homework.

Beginner Chinese Reading Materials: Learn Chinese Reading for Beginners There’s only one thing that particularly stands out to me as confusing here, which is when the mother says: 可能是有了小妹妹,我这段时间对你关心少了。 Literally, this translates as “Maybe it’s have small sister, I during this time towards you care little.” The last clause we can translate into less literal and more readable English as “I haven’t looked after you much during this time,” but the first bit, “have small sister” (有了), is confusing. Why “have” 有了?

In this case, that could be translated as, “Maybe it’s because we have your little sister,” or “It’s because I had your little sister [to look after]“, though “because” is never actually used in the sentence, it becomes that much harder to read.

Click to Listen

闷闷不乐 – mèn mèn bù lè – Sulky, moody, unhappy
怎么了 – zěn me lè – What’s wrong?
叹 – tàn – Sigh
暑假 – shǔ jià – Summer vacation
自责 – zì zé – To blame oneself
根本 – gēn běn – absolutely (not)
努力 – nǔ lì – To strive, work hard
盯 – dīng – Stare at
攥 – zuàn – To grasp
共同 – gòng tóng – Together




September 24, Saturday

Today, after my parent-teacher conference, mama looked moody, and I carefully asked her, “Mama, what’s wrong?” Looking at me, mother sighed and said: “Your summer vacation homework is not close to being done, and your writing is poor. I think, because [I've been spending so much time with] your little sister, I haven’t been paying as much attention to you during this time.” As I listened, I hung my head in embarrassment.

When I saw the self-blame on mama’s face, I was very sad, and I said to mama: “Mama, don’t blame yourself, is isn’t your fault at all, it’s that I haven’t worked hard enough, so please don’t be angry, starting now, I’ll earnestly finish all the homework teacher gave me, and I’ll fight to get good grades. Please believe me!” Mama stared into my eyes, grasped my hand and said, “Good child, mother believes you, let us work hard together.”

19 comments to "Dear Diary: Mama Please Believe Me"

  1. Reply Mark O'Malley says: May 10, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    Could “有了小妹妹” mean that the mother recently gave birth to the narrator’s baby sister?

    • A very interesting thought and nice thinking with 了, but I don’t think the sentence is getting quite that specific – I say that because in Chinese “had” (I had a baby) doesn’t mean “give birth to” the way it does in English.

      Think of this sentence said to you in this context in English. You’re a child, around 5 or 6. Your mom says to you, “I’d have spent more time with you, but we had your little sister.”

      Could mean the baby was born very recently, as it needs more care than you do, and you’re very young. But it could mean the little sister is 2 or 3.

  2. Reply Mai Laoshi says: May 18, 2012 at 6:56 pm


    The 的s here should be 得s

    • Yeah – I usually pick these up from essay or story sites online, and I bring them over as-is. Have you noticed a trend towards using 的 as an all-purpose character in informal speech in place of 得 and 地?

  3. Glad to have discovered your website. It is exactly what I was looking for to get me started with reading. Keep up the good work. One suggestion – would be good to indicate the year in the dates of published posts.

    Or to provide filtering by dates. Just a suggestion :)

    Either way – great website.

  4. My dictionary translates 家长会 as parent-teacher conference, can it also be family meeting?

    Btw, this website is a fantastic resource, thanks alot!

    • Oops, you’re right! Thanks for pointing that out – I had that in a previous version – not sure what happened there.

      • I would like to register for the May 5th worsohkp.I have a canon rebel slr. I was wondering if there is a certain filter that you suggest? Also, how would you like me to pay for the worsohkp?Thank you,Laura Aaland

  5. This is a great resource. Please keep putting in new content especially in the beginner section while you can. use this with Skritter and the combination is wonderful for learning Chinese.

  6. wow! This is such a great idea to share the reading material!!! And it’s really intresting to read especially how you explain Chinese. I love it!!

  7. 可能是有了小妹妹,我这段时间对你关心少了 –> means the mother feels that she might be neglecting the narrator as she is taking care of the younger sister..

  8. Reply josephine cosco says: December 12, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Great stories. More fun to learn than standard text books. Appreciate it.
    A follow-up to “youle”, I would lean towards the baby being born quite recently rather than 2 or 3 yrs old. “youle” is more immediate. The chinese says “wo youle”, meaning I’ve got it. I got a baby. I’m pregnant. If the sister is 2 or 3, I would think the family would be more adjusted to the idea.

  9. Reply Friendzy Familyzy says: October 4, 2015 at 6:11 am

    If the tittle has “Dear Diary”, then should the text said “Dear Dairy”?
    亲爱的日记 (Qīn’ài de rìjì)

  10. wow, I just started the uphill battle of learning Chinese, and this website is great! thanks for the work you put into it…it will help alot^^

  11. Thank you so much for this amazing story. I could totally relate to it.

  12. Reply Noel NX???? says: May 30, 2019 at 5:28 am

    Wow.Cool essay.????????????????

    • Reply Ngọc Diệp says: November 16, 2019 at 2:23 am

      His parent teacher conference?what they like to do everyday?(His parent like office works or Home works?). About good child?Whát is his dream? High position in the future or living with hi mother And let us work hard together?

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