Chinese Idioms[2].txt

  1. 老生常谈
    • a cliché, sth that has been said many, many times before (no negative connotation)
    • “Wo3 zhi1dao4 zhe4 shi4 lao3sheng1chang2tan2, dan4shi4 wo3 hai2 xiang3 zai4 qiang2diao4 yi2xia4.” (= I know I have said this before, but I want to emphacize it again here.)
  2. 陈词滥调
    • A cliché that has been over-used (carries a negative connotation)
    • “Wo3men bu4 xu1yao4 zhe4xie1 chen2ci2lan4diao4.” (used to say we don’t need to use these old methods, old ways – we need something new.)
  3. 留得青山在,不怕没柴烧
    liúdeqīngshānzài, bùpàméicháishāo
    While the green hills last, there'll be wood to burn (idiom). Where there's life there's hope. As long as you are still alive, there is still a chance in the future. (said to encourage someone when they are down). Lit: “stay get green hill on/at, not fear not have firewood heat”
  4. 马到成功
    “instant success / beginner's luck”. Lit: “horse arrive completed achievement” – a wish for others to say we hope they succeed soon. “ma3 dao4” = when you arrive (when your horse arrives) – when your horse arrives you will have accomplished sth
  5. 名利双收
    “both fame and fortune (idiom) / both virtue and reward”. Lit. “name/fame advantage/profit both/two harvest/receive”. When proposing a plan or an idea to someone we might say “zhe4 shi4 yi2 ge4 ming2li4shuang1shou1 de fang1fa3.” = this is a plan/method that will bring you both fame and wealth.
  6. 茅塞顿开
    to be suddenly enlightened. “murky darkness suddenly opens (idiom); a sudden flash of insight and all is clear”. Use: “I’m confused about a word for a long time, but you just explained it to me so I suddenly understand”. Ni3 de hua4 rang4 wo3 mao2se4dun1kai1.
  7. 没有规矩不成方圆
    méiyǒuguīju, bùchéngfāngyuán
    Nothing can be accomplished without norms or standards. Without rules, nothing can be done (idiom); One must follow some rules. Lit: without compass and set square, cannot complete circumference. indicates that without rules you cannot have order. Use: when you want to tell others that these are the rules and they need to obey them, you can say “méiyǒuguīju, bùchéngfāngyuán”
  8. 每逢佳节倍思亲
    “doubly homesick for our dear ones at each festive day” (Tang poet Wang Wei's poem remembering his brother). On festive occasions more than ever one thinks of one's dear ones far away. Use: said on holidays when you are missing your family that you are not with.
  9. 谋事在人,成事在天
    mou2shi4 zai4 ren2, cheng2 shi4 zai4 tian1
    The planning lies with man, the outcome with Heaven. / Man proposes, God disposes. To plan a matter lies with man, success/accomplishment comes from heaven. Use: said before one does something – “I’ll try my best, but God/the heavens will determine whether or not I succeed”
  10. 弄巧成拙
    to outsmart oneself, to shoot oneself in the foot. “Do smart finish stupid”. Use: I made a mistake, then tried to cover it up, but you already knew all about it…
  11. 拿手好戏
    na2shou3 hao3 xi4
    Expert in, good at. Use: “zhe4 shi4 wo3 de na2shou3 hao3xi4”—“this is what I’m good at”(cooking, making music, any area you are skilled in, etc.)
  12. 赔了夫人又折兵
    (pinyin goes here)
    To throw good money after bad. From Romance of the Three Kingdoms – history of a period in China when it was divided up into three kingdoms and was then united into one.
  13. 礼尚往来
    Gifts should be reciprocal. Any good deed or favor should always be repaid. Proper behavior is based on reciprocity (idiom). Fig: to return politeness for politeness(lit: manners still go back and forth). Used when you want to help someone, but they don’t want to accept it. “lǐshàngwǎnglái. Yinwei2 ni3 bang1zhu4guo4 wo3, suo3yi3 wo3 ye3 yao4/ying1gai1 bang1(zhu4) ni3.”
Card Set
Chinese Idioms[2].txt
Mandarin Chinese Idioms