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看车! (Kàn chē!) Look out for the cars! (Beginner)

Aug. 8, 2012

A Chinese teacher organized over ten foreign students to walk to the Tianjin Zoo; they were hoping to get their first glimpse of the panda. After leaving the school gate, the group needed to cross a busy road with rushing traffic. The teacher told the foreign students loudly: “看车!(kàn chē!).” Surprisingly, all the students stopped walking and stared at the cars. The students knew that in Chinese “看 (kàn)” means “to look” or “to see” and “车 (chē)” means “car,” so they just looked at the cars. But could that really be what the teacher wanted?

The Chinese word “看 (kàn)” does mean “to look” or “to see” when it is used by itself, but when used with other words, it can have different meanings. Let’s look at some of the meanings together.

1. It can mean “to read,” such as “看书 (kàn shū) to read a book,” and “看报 (kàn bào) to read the newspaper.”


Wǒ xǐhuan kànshū.
我    喜欢     看书。

I like reading.

Yéye měitiān zǎoshang dōu huì kàn bàozhǐ.

爷爷    每天   早上          都   会   看    报纸。

My grandpa reads the newspaper every morning.

2. It can also mean “to watch out,” such as “看车 (kàn chē) watch out for the car,” or “看路 (kàn lù) watch the road.”


Kàn lù, xiǎoxīn shuāidǎo.
看    路,小心      摔倒。

Watch the road and be careful not to fall down.

Guò mǎlù yào zhùyì kàn chē.
过     马路  要   注意   看 车。

Watch out for cars when you cross the road.

3. When used with the character “望 (wàng),” it means “to visit.”


Wǒ zhōumò yào qù kànwàng wǒ de wàipó.
我   周末        要  去  看望        我  的  外婆。

I will go visit my grandma this weekend.


1. Which of the following is not a use of “看 (kàn)?”

A. to visit        B. to read        C. to listen

Wǒ měi ge yuè dōu huì kàn ___ yéye.
2. 我    每   个  月  都  会  看  ___ 爷爷。
I visit my grandpa every month.

A. 书 (shū)                        B. 望 (wàng)                C. 路 ()

Answers to the practice questions: 1. C      2. B

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看 电视to watch TV

Hi, 325435,

Yes, you are right.

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