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Chinese Idiom (Intermediate Level)

Chinese idioms, called (Zhōng guó chéng yŭ 中国成语), are well-known sayings or proverbs alluding to famous Chinese stories and historical events. They are not only a key part of Chinese language learning, but are also priceless in understanding Chinese culture. Chinese idioms are deeply rooted in legacies and traditional culture, making the Chinese language more rich and fascinating. Each Chinese idiom carries profound meaning, and knowing how to use them will help you sound just like a native Chinese speaker. Feel free to browse our complementary resources!

Learn Mandarin Chinese Idiom: 守株待兔 (Shǒuzhūdàitù) To Stand by a Tree Stump Waiting for a Hare (Intermediate)

 

Key Learning Point (Preview):

待 (dài): v. to wait/to wait for

 

Cóngqián, yǒu yí gè nóngfū.
从前,       有  一 个  农夫。
Once upon a time, there was a farmer.

 

Yì tiān, zài tā gēngtián de shíhou, hūrán pǎo guò lái  yì zhī yětù,
一 天,在 ...


The Chinese idiom "纸上谈兵(zhǐshàngtánbīng) armchair strategy" refers to people who engage in idle talk, but are unable to act on their high minded theories. It is usually used to urge people to combine theories with practical knowledge and not be bookworms. Let's read about the origin of the idiom below.

(Know more about Chinese culture by taking some ...


(Learn Chinese culture with our native Chinese teachers!)

"对牛弹琴 (duìniútánqín)" is used by Chinese people to describe someone who is explaining something complicated to a fool, or sometimes this idiom is used to describe a person who is trying to tell something to the wrong audience. In English, people sometimes joke around by sarcastically saying "whistle ...


Sòngcháo de shíhou, yǒu yí gè jiào Wén Tóng de huàjiā, hěn shàncháng huà zhúzi.
宋朝         的  时候, 有  一 个 叫    文    同     的  画家, 很   擅长          画   竹子。
In the Song Dynasty, there was an artist whose name was Wen ...


Listen Online

Brief: Learn two Chinese idioms: zhao san mu si (朝三暮四) and sai weng shi ma (塞翁失马).
课文:
Zhāo sān mù sì
朝      三   暮 四
Three in the morning, four in the afternoon.
Sài wēng shī mă
塞    翁    失  马
the old frontiersman losing his horse


Jìncháo shí,  yŏu yí gè rén jiào Jī Shào. Tā zhăng dé yíbiăotángtáng, érqiĕ cáinéng chūzhòng, dānrèn
晋朝      时,有  一 个 人   叫  嵇  绍。他    长    得       仪表堂堂,  而且    才能       出众,   担任
jìnhuìdì de shìcóngguān.
晋惠帝  的   侍从官。
Ji Shao, an aide to Emperor ...


Zài sēnlín lĭ,   láohŭ shì zuì xiōngmĕng de yĕshòu.
在   森林 里,老虎  是  最     凶猛       的   野兽。
The tiger is the most ferocious animal in the forest.
Yì tiān, tā zhuōdào yì zhī  húli, jiăohuá de húli  jiù shuō:”Nĭ zĕn me găn chī wŏ? Wŏ shì tiāndì rènmìng
一 ...


春 晓(Chūn xiăo)A Spring Morning
作 者:孟浩然 Meng Haoran(Zuò zhĕ: Mèng Hàorán)
Chūn mián bù jué xiăo,
春       眠    不  觉   晓,
I awake light-hearted this morning of spring,
Chù chù wén tí niăo.
处     处   闻  啼  鸟。
Everywhere round me the singing of birds.
Yè lái fēng yŭ shēng,
夜  来  风   雨   ...


(Get familiar with Chinese culture and you will get a deeper understanding of idioms.)
Yŏu gè xiăotōu kànjiàn fànshì  jiālĭ  yŏu yì kŏu míngguì de dàzhōng, tā xiăng bă zhōng qiāo suì , ránhòu
有    个  小偷      看见    范氏  家里  有 一 口     名贵     的    大钟, 他   ...


The Story:
Long long ago, a county magistrate named Wang Lu worked in present Anhui Province, east China. Wang Lu was very greedy and took many bribes. One of his secretaries was equally corrupt, and often schemed for Wang Lu’s deeds.One day a man went to the magistrate to lodge a complaint against the secretary. The ...


Sūn Jìng, shì hàncháo yŏumíng de zhèngzhìjiā, mĕitiān cóng zăo dào wăn dúshū.
孙    敬,是      汉朝      有名     的     政治家,  每天     从    早    到   晚    读书.

Yŏushí huì píjuàn dé zhí dă kēshuì, tā biàn zhăo le yì gēn shéngzi, yì tóu ...


Key Learning Point (Preview):
刻舟求剑 (kèzhōuqiújiàn) To Mark the Boat to Look for the Sword
Idiom Story:
Yǒu yígè Chǔguó rén chūmén yuǎnxíng.
有     一个   楚国      人     出门        远行。
There was a man from Chu who went out on a long journey.

Tā zài chéngchuán guòjiāng de shíhou, ...


Key Learning Points (Preview):

能手 (néngshǒu): n. an expert/someone who masters a certain skill perfectly

 

中 (zhòng): v. to hit

 

Listen to the whole idiom story

 

Yǎng Yóujī shì gǔdài zhùmíng de shèjiàn néngshǒu.
养       由基 是    古代    著名       的   射箭        能手。

 

Yang Youji was afamous marksman in ancient China.

Dāngshí, háiyǒu yígè shèjiàn néngshǒu jiào Pān Dǎng. Tā néng měi jiàn ...


Key Learning Point (Preview):
如鱼得水 (rúyúdéshuǐ): to feel just like a fish in water

 

Dōnghàn mònián, tiānxià dà luàn. 
东汉         末年,   天下    大 乱。

 

In the late Eastern Han Dynasty, the country was in confusion.

Liú Bèi wèi tǒngyī tiānxià, tèyì bàifǎng yǐnjū de Zhūgě Liàng xúnqiú bāngzhù.
  刘备    为     统一    天下,特意  拜访    隐居 的   诸葛      亮       寻求       ...


The idiom "滴水穿石 (dīshuǐchuānshí)" more literally means that constantly dripping water can wear away stone. Now it is used to mean that you can succeed if you persist. It also can be written as "水滴石穿 (shuǐdīshíchuān)." Let's read about the origin of this idiom.
Key Learning Point (Preview):
滴水穿石 (dīshuǐchuānshí): Dripping water wears away stone.

 

Yì tiān, Sòngcháo ...


Key Learning Point (Preview):
马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhuhu): careless/just so so

 

The idiom "马马虎虎 (mǎmǎhuhu)" is widely used by Chinese people in their daily lives. But why do people in China use this idiom? Let’s read the following story to find out.
Listen to the whole story:

 

Sòngdài yǒu ge huàjiā, zuòhuà wǎngwǎng suíxīnsuǒyù, lìng rén gǎo bù qīng tā huà ...


"少见多怪 (shǎojiànduōguài) is an everyday Chinese expression used to describe someone who is very naive. Besides this, the phrase is sometimes used to poke fun at those who announce a very common fact as a piece of amazing news. In English, people sometimes joke around by sarcastically saying "Way to go Captain Obvious." to mean ...


留得青山在,不怕没柴烧 (Liú dé qīngshān zài, búpà méi chái shāo) Where There is Life, There is Hope (Intermediate)

 

Key Learning Points (Preview):

长大 (zhǎngdà): v to grow up

 

富裕 (fùyù): adj rich

 

In ancient times, there was an old man who used "木材 (mùcái) wood" to make  "木炭(mùtàn) charcoal." He had two sons, one named Qing Shan and the other ...


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