Summer is here! Get your visor sun hat ready!
Whenever I ask my students what their favorite season is, “summer” is almost never the answer. It doesn’t seem to matter where you live (apart from maybe Antarctica): the heat is often the reason that my students dislike summer. It is too hot to go out, you sweat like crazy, the summer heat makes you feel lazy, the list goes on...
However, despite the blazing heat, summer can be a fun topic to talk about.
If you only know the phrase 很热 / hĕn rè (it’s hot) in Chinese, then boy are you in for a treat! First, let's learn how to say the temperature.
China uses Celsius while the U.S. uses Fahrenheit. If you have been reading my articles, you are probably aware that math is not my strong suit (despite the Asian stereotype!). So, I always have my Google converter handy whenever I need to talk about the temperature. For the non-math wizards, here is the formula to go from Celsius to Fahrenheit:
℉ =℃ * 1.8 + 32
Here are some basic vocabulary that you should be aware of:
- 度 / dù (degrees).
- 摄氏度 / shè shì dù (Celsius).
- 华氏度 / huá shì dù (Fahrenheit).
- 你那边今天多少度？/ nĭ nà bian jīn tiān duō shao dù？(What is the temperature over there?).
- 41 摄氏度！/ 41 shè shì dù！(41 degrees Celsius!).
- 41 摄氏度是多少华氏度？/ 41 shè shì dù shì duō shao huá shì dù？(What is 41 degrees Celsius in Fahrenheit?).
Use a calculator to find this out, or the formula above.
If you and the person you are talking to both use the same degree unit, then you can just say 41 度 / dù (degrees) instead of 41 摄氏度 / shè shì dù (Celsius).
Here’s a fun fact. Did you know that there is a boy band called Fahrenheit in China? However, the Chinese name of this band is not 华氏度, but 飞轮海 / fēi lún hăi (a transliteration of Fahrenheit). If you like 流行音乐 / liú xíng yīn yuè (Mandarin Pop), you might just like their songs.
Use temperature as one way to describe the weather. If you have zero sense of temperature (like me), you can always use descriptions instead of numbers, as below:
- 今天太热了！/ jīn tiān tài rè le！(It’s too hot today!).
- 今天又热又潮湿。/ jīn tiān yòu rè yòu cháo shī。(It’s hot and humid).
- 热死了！/ rè sĭ le！(It’s so hot!).
语法点一 (Grammar Point 1)
Expression: 太 [adjective] 了
This expression means “too [adjective]”, i.e. too much of something. When in translation, it becomes either a complaint or a compliment (although much more frequently the former). Phew, what a pair!
- 今天太热了！/ jīn tiān tài rè le (It’s too hot today!).
- 你太好了！/ nĭ tài hăo le！(You're too kind!).
- 你的猫太可爱了！/ nĭ de māo tài kĕ ài le！(Your cat is so cute!).
Q: Which of the above sentences is a compliment?
语法点二 (Grammar Point 2)
When you want to use two adjectives at once, you can use the following structure to link them together. Bear in mind that your chosen adjectives have to be both positive or both negative.
Expression: 又 [adjective] 又 [adjective]
- 今天又热又潮湿。/ jīn tiān yòu rè yòu cháo shī 。(It’s hot and humid).
- 现在我又困又累。/ xiàn zài wŏ yòu kùn yòu lèi 。(I am sleepy and tired).
- 你的狗又乖又可爱，不像我的猫！/ nĭ de gŏu yòu guāi yòu kĕ ài ， bù xiàng wŏ de māo！(Your dog is well behaved and cute, unlike my cat!).
If the expressions above are still not good enough to express your dislike of summer, then you might like the following one!
语法点三 (Grammar Point 3)
Expression: [adjective] 死了
This phrase means “died/dead” (but don’t worry, nothing is really dying here). When we translate this expression, it becomes “[adjective] to death”.
- 热死了 / rè sĭ le (hot to death / it is so hot, I feel like I am dying).
- 渴死了 / kĕ sĭ le (thirsty to death).
- 饿死了 / è sĭ le (starve to death).
*Note that if these phrases are in the right context, they could mean that someone has literally died because of the thirst or starvation.
- zuó tiān tài nán shòu le 。 tiān qì yòu rè yòu cháo shī ， wŏ yòu è yòu kĕ 。 huí dào jiā de shí hou kuài lèi sĭ le！
- It was very uncomfortable yesterday. The weather was hot and humid. I was hungry and thirsty. When I got home, I was exhausted!
For some people in China, the worst part of summer is the risk of 晒黑.
Why is summer disliked?
Aside from feeling like you are being roasted in an oven the moment you step outside, one of the reasons that summer is disliked is because of the risk of 晒黑 / shài hēi (tan), especially for Chinese women. Chinese women generally desire whiter skin. There are many different theories about why this is the case. One of the common theories is that back in ancient China, having whiter skin symbolized wealth as you didn’t have to go out and work in the field. Nowadays, it is part of the societal beauty standards of China.
- 夏天女孩子最怕什么？/ xià tiān nǚ hái zi zuì pà shén me？(What are girls most afraid of in the summer?).
- 最怕被晒黑！/ zuì pà bèi shài hēi！(Afraid of getting a tan!).
One of my favorite classes in elementary school in China was 品德课 / pĭn dé kè (Morality & Manner Class). It was a class in which we were taught how to behave properly in society and to do things such as give up seats for our elders, help others out, be respectful to other people, and so on. My biggest takeaway was the importance of 内在美。It is a lesson that has stayed with me since then.
- shài hēi méi shén me dà bù liăo ！ yīn wèi bĭ qĭ wài biăo ， nèi zài mĕi gèng zhòng yào。
- Getting a tan is not a big problem because inner beauty is more important than outer appearance.
On the other hand, there are some very interesting products that can be used for skin protection (and for other health purposes as well)...
Since skin care is such an important cultural issue for Chinese women, there are a lot of skin protection products out there to cater to most women in China. The most common ones are 防晒霜 / fáng shài shuāng (sunscreen) and 墨镜 / mò jìng or 太阳镜 / tài yang jìng (sunglasses).
Now… here are some interesting observations that I have noticed, even in the U.S.!
It is common to see Chinese girls using an umbrella when it is not raining but on a blue sunny day. Well, who said you could only use an umbrella when it rains? However, there are two different types of umbrellas. One is called 阳伞, and the other one is 雨伞. As you might be able to tell from the names, one is for UV protection, and the other one is a regular umbrella to keep you dry when it rains:
- 阳伞 / yáng săn (Parasol / literally: sun umbrella).
- 雨伞 / yŭ săn / (Umbrella / literally: rain umbrella).
The most interesting of these sun protection products has to be the Chinese visor sun hat! (I drew the cartoon image myself).
I saw several Chinese girls using them on campus in the U.S. I had always thought it was something used for fun in China, but they are practical and actually used! No, I am not talking about the one that is only four inches long and covers mainly your forehead. I am talking about the one that covers your entire face!
- 太阳 / tài yang (sun).
- 帽(子) / mào ( zĭ ) (hat).
- 太阳帽 / tài yang mào (sun hat / Chinese visor sun hat).
Whether you love or hate summer, I hope you enjoyed this article. Do you use any of the skin protection products mentioned in this article? I use 防晒霜 because I get sunburnt easily (not to mention that it gets as high as 105 华氏度 where I live).
What do you use when you go out in the summer time?
Hero image by JJ Ying on Unsplash