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Let’s take a look at the common verb “to use” 用 yòng to learn a bit more about how words are structured in Chinese while also getting a deeper understanding of the character itself.
I remember 用 by looking at its two main components, which are 月 with a stick through it 丨. 月 (yuè) as many of you already know is the Chinese character for “Moon”, and wouldn’t it be great if you could put the Moon on a stick and USE its light at nighttime?
用 can be used in a number of different ways when combined with other characters. First, let’s look at these three restive complements:
All of these words are starting with the verb 用 and then following it up with the result of said “use”.
▷用完, literally “use finish”, is the most generic way of indicating that you’ve used up something. It’s finished now, so you can’t use it anymore.
▷用尽 is expressing a similar meaning, because 尽 means “exhausted”. You can probably easily see how this particular result is more extreme than “用完”, simply because the word “exhaust” seems to imply a finality that “finish” just doesn’t quite achieve.
▷What if what you need to put more effort into “using” is more psychological in nature? Well, “use” your “heart” 用心 (xīn) to do the task “with concentrated attention”.
▷If something is “useful”, it “has use”, which is the direct translation of the Mandarin word for “useful” 有用 (yǒu).
▷If something is “practical” it has “real” (实 shí) “use” (用), and thus came the highly logical Chinese word for practical 实用.
▷A cool way of telling someone to get more out of a physical activity is to tell them to 用力 (lì), which literally translate to “use power”, and can be applied to any situation where putting more physical effort into a given task (e.g. scrubbing a table).
▷Finally, if you ever simply want to say that there is “no need” for something, you can simply say 不用 búyòng. Often times after you thank someone by saying “谢谢” (xièxie- “thanks”), they will respond politely with “不用谢”, aka “No need for thanks”.
Are you starting to see how 有用 learning characters is? Keep it up and your ever-growing interest in the Chinese will never be 用完.