[Note: This is intended as a reference post---it'll take me some time to complete it.]

In order to have a better informed conversations here Do we want to allow answers written wholly by e.g. ChatGPT?, I'd like to collect some examples of how AI answers Chinese.SE questions.

  1. Reasonable AI-generated answers.
  2. Rubbish AI-generated answers.

This is intended to give people a clearer picture of what AI can and can't do, and what it is and isn't good at.

I'll answer these questions using Sage (which is not the state-of-the-art anymore, but it's free, and is widely accessible; also, I've personally been using Sage to study Chinese):

Good in languages other than English, and also in programming-related tasks. Powered by gpt-3.5-turbo.

I copy/paste the question title and contents into Sage. (In fact, I can just give Sage the URL, but I find it's answers this way are not as good; maybe it gets distracted by other webpage content.)

Note: I can only make judgement calls on answers I can either understand or confirm in some way. So I'm only going to look at questions about standard Mandarin (maybe someone else can make a similar post with broader scope).

PS. While preparing this post, I tried quite a number of examples. It's good at some questions ("what's the difference between [x] and [y]?"; "is there a chengyu which means [pla pla pla]?") and not others. E.g. if the question contains an image, it can't be input into Sage (at the time of writing).

I didn't include every question I gave Sage below. Most of the answers I saw are imperfect; it gets the bulk of the answer correct, but its explanations are lacking or even somewhat incorrect.

One issue I'm seeing: Sage doesn't give evidence to support it's claims. So it'll say something like "The word "县子" (xiànzi) does exist in colloquial Chinese, particularly in certain dialects and regional variations" (in response to this question), and maybe it's read something others haven't, but it doesn't give an example, so it could also be simply wrong.

2 Answers 2


Reasonable answers by Sage

Here's some questions from the site, and Sage's response. I feel that, if these were written by a human, it would be quite a good answer.

1. Does "这很大钱! 再见大学钱...." make sense? Or have I written it wrong?

For my Chinese class, I have to make a film recording an exchange in a restaurant. I'm trying to say "This is a lot of money! Goodbye college money..." in reference to someone spending too much on their meal.


The sentence "这很大钱!再见大学钱...." is not grammatically correct. A more appropriate way to express the idea of "This is a lot of money! Goodbye college money..." in Chinese could be:

这花费的钱很多啊!大学的学费都没了... (Zhè huāfèi de qián hěn duō a! Dàxué de xuéfèi dōu méi le...)

In this sentence, "花费的钱" means "the money spent", and "很多" means "a lot". The phrase "大学的学费都没了" means "the college tuition is all gone".

I hope this helps! Good luck with your Chinese class and your film project.

2. Difference between 正在 and 在?

I am a beginner in Chinese (Mandarin), and I am following a phone app to learn.

However I cannot understand what is the difference between 正在 and 在 ? For example:




The app says that they are interchangeable... is it always the case?


Both 正在 (zhèng zài) and 在 (zài) are used to indicate an action or event is happening or in progress, but there is a slight difference in their usage.

正在 (zhèng zài) is used to indicate that an action is currently in progress at the moment of speaking. It emphasizes the ongoing nature of the action and implies that the action is not yet complete.

For example, in the sentence "你正在干什么?" (What are you doing?), the use of 正在 emphasizes that the person is currently doing something, and implies that the action is still ongoing.

On the other hand, 在 (zài) is more general and can be used to indicate that an action is happening or taking place, whether it is ongoing or not. It can also be used to indicate a location or a state of being.

For example, in the sentence "你在干什么?" (What are you doing?), the use of 在 indicates that the person is doing something, but does not necessarily emphasize the ongoing nature of the action.

In general, both 正在 and 在 can be used interchangeably in many cases, especially in casual conversation. However, using 正在 can add emphasis to the ongoing nature of the action, while using 在 can be more general and less specific about the duration of the action.

3. How do I write "but if" in Chinese?

How can I express that something happens if another condition is true? (Eng: "Subject ... but if ... subject ...")


I usually get up at six o'clock, but if I'm really tired, I sleep until eight.

我常起來六點,但是很累到八點睡覺。 (Can I write this?)


To express the idea of "but if" in Chinese, you can use the phrase "但如果" (dàn rú guǒ) or "但是如果" (dàn shì rú guǒ).

For example, to translate your sentence "I usually get up at six o'clock, but if I'm really tired, I sleep until eight", you could say:

我通常六点起床,但如果我真的很累,就会睡到八点。 (Wǒ tōngcháng liù diǎn qǐchuáng, dàn rú guǒ wǒ zhēn de hěn lèi, jiù huì shuì dào bā diǎn.)

In this sentence, "但如果" (dàn rú guǒ) is used to indicate the conditional "but if" clause. Another alternative, "但是如果" (dàn shì rú guǒ), can also be used in a similar way.

The sentence you provided, "我常起來六點,但是很累到八點睡覺" could be understood, but it sounds a bit awkward and doesn't clearly convey the conditional "but if" meaning.

4. The use of "、" in more than three items

In the following sentence:

沙溢、胡可与安吉、小鱼儿一家四口集体亮相,同时《捉妖记2》视效制片人Ellen Poon也透露了电影幕后制作的花絮。

I think the use of "、" should be A、B、C与D. In other words, it should be put between each word except the last one, in which case 与 or 和 (etc...) should be used instead.

However in this sentence, it is in the form of A、B与C、D, so now I wonder what is the correct form, and whether there is any difference on the meaning regarding how you put the "、" to concatenate words.


In Chinese, the use of "、" to separate items in a list is similar to the use of commas in English. It is generally used to separate three or more items, including the last item in the list.

Regarding the placement of "、" in a list of items, there is some flexibility in Chinese. It is common to use "、" between each item in the list, as you mentioned, such as A、B、C、D.

However, it is also acceptable in Chinese to use "、" between some items and "与" or "和" between others, especially when there are multiple groups of items being listed. For example, in your sentence, "沙溢、胡可与安吉、小鱼儿一家四口" is a group of people, and "Ellen Poon" is a separate item. Using "、" between each person's name and "与" between the two groups is a common way to structure the sentence.

5. colloquial idiomatic translation of: "beating a dead horse"?

KeKeNet translates "beating a dead horse" as:


ICIBA translated it as:


Are there any other better alternatives to this translation for beating a dead horse? Hopefully more idiomatic.


There are several colloquial and idiomatic expressions in Chinese that can be used to convey the idea of "beating a dead horse". Here are a few examples:

"老调重弹" (lǎo diào chóng tán) - This means to repeat the same old tricks or ideas, even though they have become ineffective or no longer useful.

"杯水车薪" (bēi shuǐ chē xīn) - This literally means "a cup of water to put out a cart of fire", and is used to describe a futile or ineffective effort to solve a problem.

"画蛇添足" (huà shé tiān zú) - This means to add unnecessary or redundant actions to a process that is already complete, much like drawing legs on a snake.

"无病呻吟" (wú bìng shēn yín) - This means to complain or make a fuss about something that is not a real problem or issue.

All of these expressions convey the idea of wasting time or effort on something that is no longer useful or effective, much like the English expression "beating a dead horse".

6. What does "悠" mean in "悠久"?

"悠久" is often used to describe a period of history (I read it from ), and I wonder how does the adv "悠" work in "悠久".

I've searched, the complete word means,

悠久,汉语词汇,形容词(褒义)。 拼音:yōu jiǔ 词义:长久;久远。

But I can't figure out what does "悠" mean.


In the word "悠久" (yōu jiǔ), the character "悠" (yōu) means "leisurely" or "at ease", and is often used to convey a sense of relaxation or unhurriedness.

In the context of "悠久", the character "悠" is used to describe a period of time that is long and uninterrupted, much like a leisurely and unhurried stroll. The word "悠久" implies a sense of continuity and endurance, suggesting that the period of time it describes has endured over a long period without interruption or disruption.

Overall, the character "悠" in "悠久" conveys a sense of leisurely continuity, suggesting a long period of time that has endured smoothly and without interruption.

7. What is the antonym of 不如?

What is the antonym of 不如? E.g.:

今年我旅游很少, 不如去年 (situation is worse than last year)

And I need a word for the reverse situation:

今年我旅游很多, ???去年 (situation is better than last year)

不如 has a negative meaning so it does not suit here, as far as I know.


The antonym of 不如 (bù rú) in the context of making comparisons is 好过 (hǎo guò), which means "better than" or "superior to".

In the sentence "今年我旅游很多,好过去年" (jīn nián wǒ lǚ yóu hěn duō, hǎo guò qù nián), the phrase "好过" is used to indicate that the current situation (having traveled more this year) is better than the situation in the past (having traveled less last year).

It is worth noting that "好过" is often used in comparison to a specific time or situation, much like "不如". In the absence of a specific reference point, other words or phrases may be more appropriate for expressing the idea of improvement or superiority.


Rubbish answers by Sage

1. What's wrong with 一个年?

From what I can tell, 一个年 is completely wrong because you can never use a classifier together with . The situation is different from a phrase like 一个朋友.

My question is: why? Is there a reason why is different from 朋友 like this? Are there other nouns which behave like ?

Or is really syntactically more like ? Is actually usable as a measure word? Can you for example say 一年时间 or 两年工作?


You are correct that it is incorrect to use a classifier with the noun "年" (nián) in Chinese.

The reason for this is that "年" is already a quantifier that indicates a unit of time, specifically a year. It is similar to words like "hour", "minute", or "second" in English, which are already units of time and do not require a classifier.

While "年" itself cannot be used as a classifier, it can be used in combination with other words to form compound nouns or phrases that function as units of time. For example, "一年时间" (yī nián shí jiān) means "one year of time" and "两年工作" (liǎng nián gōng zuò) means "two years of work".

Other nouns that behave similarly to "年" in Chinese include "月" (yuè), which means "month", and "日" (rì), which means "day". These words are also used as units of time and do not require a classifier when used on their own.

In summary, while "年" cannot be used with a classifier, it is a quantifier that indicates a unit of time and can be used in combination with other words to form compound nouns or phrases that function as units of time.

Chinese and English classifiers are so different that it's not a meaningful comparison. Here "quantifier" and "classifier" refer to the same concept (Sage thinks they're distinct). In fact, e.g. 一个月 must have a classifier, because 一月 = January. (While maybe there is something to be said about 年 being a classifier, this answer would need human editing to salvage.)

2. Etymology of 制 zhì = make, manufacture

What is the etymology of 制? how the meaning is evolved to Make, manufacture?

Ox + hand kerchief + knife becomes Make or Manufacture?


The character 制 (zhì) has a complex etymology and its meaning has undergone several changes over time.

In its earliest form, 制 was written as 刂 (dāo), which represents a knife or a cutting tool. This component was later combined with the character 制 (zhì), which originally meant "to cut" or "to engrave" using a knife or other sharp tool.

Over time, the meaning of 制 expanded to include the concept of "making" or "manufacturing" by cutting or shaping materials using a knife or other tools. This meaning is reflected in the character's current usage, which can refer to the act of producing or manufacturing something.

The character 制 also has other meanings, such as "system," "regulation," or "control," which are derived from the idea of cutting or shaping something according to a particular standard or pattern. This meaning is reflected in compound words such as 规制 (guīzhì), which means "regulation" or "control."

The character 制 is composed of several components, including 刂 (dāo), which represents a knife or cutting tool, 巾 (jīn), which represents a handkerchief or cloth, and 刀 (dāo), which is a variant of 刂. The combination of these components suggests the idea of cutting or shaping materials using a knife or other tools, as well as the use of a cloth or handkerchief to wipe away dust or debris.

Overall, the evolution of the character 制 reflects the historical importance of cutting and shaping tools in traditional Chinese manufacturing and craftsmanship, as well as the development of more complex systems of regulation and control in society.

I feel like a fair chunk of this is just made up. It doesn't seem to realize 刂 is a variant of 刀.

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