Because it covers so many fields, the whole lexicon of the Chinese language is tremendously vast. The words of the modern Chinese lexicon are composed of many monosyllabic words, but the largest amount is made of disyllabic words. There are, of course, also words with more syllables (like Mao Zedong sixiang 毛澤東思想 "Mao Zedong thoughts"). Polysyllabic words are always composed of other, monosyllabic words. This fact makes the creation of new words very easy, a feature in common with some Western languages like Greek or German. "Fire" is huo 火, "car" is che 車, and huoche 火車 "fire car" is train; zhan 站 is "station", and huochezhan 火車站 is "train station". Many disyllabic words are composed of two words of similar meaning, like shengchan 產生 "to produce", composed of chan 產 "to fabricate", and sheng 生 "to give birth to sth.".
There were some voiced or "soft" consonants ([b], [d], [g], [dz]) not any longer used in Mandarin (correctly, [p], [t], [k] and [ts]), but in some local idioms and a lot of topolects. There might have been initial consonant clusters, like [kl-] or [pl-]. This theory has been derived from the fact that some phonetic elements have two different series, like 各 [gə] serving for the series 格 [gə], 恪 [kə], 閣 [gə] or 客 [kə] and the series 洛 [lωɔ], 路 [lu], 賂 [lu] and 略 [lyɛ]. It is quite probable that the initial cluster [kl-] served for words that later were simplified to [l-] or for [k-].
In many words the tone pitch of the second syllable is shortened and pronounced with a "light" or unstressed tone (qingsheng 輕聲), like in 頭髮 (tóufa° instead of tóufà) or 關係 (guānxi° instead of guānxì). The IPA symbols for the four tone pitches are ˥ for the high tone, ˧˥ for the raising tone, ˨˩˦ for the falling-raising tone, ˥˩ for the falling tone, and ˨ for the light tone. In the modern Hanyu pinyin transcription system 漢語拼音, the tone pitches are indicated by the accent symbols ˉ , ´ , ˇ , and ` , looking like ā á ǎ à , ē é ě è , ê̄ ế ê̌ ề , ī í ǐ ì , ō ó ǒ ò , ū ú ǔ ù , ǖ ǘ ǚ ǜ.
Structural particles (jiegou zhuci 結構助詞) serve to connect words with adjuncts and complements. The three particles are pronounced very similar and can easily be confounded, also by Chinese. The most simple is the particle de 的, the original meaning of which is "target" (compare the word mùdì 目的 "motif, objective"). From the Song period on, it became a particle connecting a noun and a noun adjuncts, and thus replaced the older particle zhi 之. It can be called a genetive particle, like "of" in English, "de" in French or no in Japanese.
Non-verbal adjectives (feiyu xingrongci 非謂形容詞) are mostly nouns, often with adjunct, acting as noun adjuncts to another noun. In most cases they can be signified by inserting the "possessive" particle de 的, like daxing (de) che 大型(的)車 "large car (car of great size)". The difference to adjective adjuncts is that adjectives can serve as adjective verbs (chezi hong 車子紅 "the cars are red"), while non-verbal adjectives can not. Adjective verbs do not need a copula ("is"), a phenomenon also known in Russian. Yet a copula has to be used to combine a subject and another noun, like Wo shi Meiguoren 我是美國人 "I am an American." (negation: bu shi 不是).
The classical language has still an influence on newspapers, government reports, legal texts, official documents, business contracts, and even on private letters. This influence can be seen in the language style, the lexicon, and certain expressions. The reason for this is in first place tradition (for example, forms of address or ceremoniousness, but also the more concise character of the classical language). In books and magazins, Classical Chinese is rarely used in the People's Republic of China, but it is to be found in many films picturizing the popular classical Chinese novels.