Mandarin Study Resources 学习材料

8 Basic and Useful Chinese Idioms (成语)

By on January 23, 2019

Every language has its own idiomatic expressions, which are important because you can communicate a whole idea with only a few words.  In the Chinese language, they are called Chengyu (成语) and are normally made up of 4 characters with a different meaning each.

A great characteristic of Chengyu(成语)is that almost all of them have its own traditional story that can help you have a better understanding of Chinese culture!

Chengyu can be a headache for intermediate and advanced students when writing essays. However, if you want to impress your Chinese friends and teachers, you can start learning Chengyu(成语)even if you are a beginner student! These 8 idioms will help you to have a first look into the immense universe of Chengyu.

  1. 乱七八糟 (luàn qī bā zāo): 

It means that something is a big mess or is really messy.

Example:

我哥哥的房间真是乱七八糟!

Wǒ gē ge de fáng jiān zhēn shì luàn qī bā zāo!

My brother’s room is a big mess!

 

2. 一见钟情 (yī jiàn zhōng qíng )

A romantic sentence that has its own idiom in almost every language: love at first sight.

Example:

  • 你相信一见钟情吗?

Nǐ xiāng xìn yī jiàn zhōng qíng má?

Do you believe in love at first sight?

 

3. 目瞪口呆 ( mù dèng kǒu dāi)

This Chengyu(成语) means to be stunned, is usually used when someone is surprised, scared or excited about something. Normally used with : 吓得 (scared).

Example:

  • 一听老师的坏消息,李娜吓得目瞪口呆,不知道该怎么办再好。

Yī tīng lǎo shī de huài xiāo xi  lǐnà xià de mù dèng kǒu dāi bù zhī dào gāi zěn me bàn zài hǎo.

Hearing the bad news from her teacher, Lina was stunned and didn’t know what to do.

 

4. 入乡随俗 (rù xiāng suí sú)

This Chinese idiom means “When in Rome, do as Romans do”.  In other words, when you go to a different city or country, you should follow and respect the locals’ customs.

Example:

  • 每个国家的习惯都不同,所以要记得到中国之后要入乡随俗吧。

Měi ge guó jiā de xí guàn dōu bù tóng suǒ yǐ yào jì dé dào Zhōng guó zhī hòu yào rù xiāng suí sú ba.

Every country has different customs, so remember when you arrive to China, to follow and respect the local customs.

 

5. 马马虎虎 ( mǎ mǎ hūhū)

It literally says “Horse-Horse-Tiger-Tiger”. It means that something or a situation isn’t so bad.

Example:

A:考试考德怎么样?

B: 哎,马马虎虎。

A : Kǎo shì kǎo de zěn me yàng ?

B :   Āi mǎ mǎ hūhū

A: How was your exam?

B: Not so bad.

 

6. 不可思议 (bù kě sī yì)

It is used when something is inconceivable or unimaginable.  It is also used as: incredible! (真不可思议!)

Example:

  • 马来西亚飞机的事故真是让人们不可思议。

The Malaysian airplane accident was inconceivable for everyone.

Mǎ lái xī yà fēi jī de shì gù zhēn shì ràng rén mén bù kě sī yì

 

7. 爱不释手 (ài bù shì shǒu )

This idiom is used to describe something that you like so much that you cannot bear to part with it, or to be so delighted with it that one could hardly bear to put it down.

Example:

  • 我妈妈送给我了一本爱不释手的书。

Wǒ mā ma sòng gěi wǒ le yī běn ài bù shì shǒu de shū

My mother gave me a book that I liked so much I could hardly put it down.

 

8. 讨价还价 (Tǎo jià huán jià)

This idiom means to bargain. Bargain is extremely important if you want to buy things in Chinese markets like The Silk Market in Beijing, if you try hard you can even reduce the price to its half!

Example:

  • 在中国买东西,必须学会讨价还价。

Zài Zhōng guó mǎi dōng xi bì xū xué huì tǎo jià huán jià

You must learn to bargain when you buy things in China.

There are other ways to say bargain in Chinese language like: 讲价-jiǎng jià.

 

Did you know all of these Chengyu? Do you often use them? Let me know in the comments! And if you liked this post feel free to share and follow the IG account @apandaperspective. 再见!

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