At the “Top of Your Game”? You Might be a “高手 (Gāoshǒu)”!

Chinese General Top

None of us like to start a new learning process just to end up being average in the end. We all wish to become “masters” at what we do. I began learning Mandarin Chinese nearly two years ago. While I’m still far from being a master of Chinese, I do strive daily to meet the task.

Today, I would like to teach you about a common word in China that we use to describe someone who has a special talent and has worked hard to achieve a status and expertise: a “高手 (gāoshǒu)”.

“高手 (gāoshǒu)” = a noun for a master; expert.

“高 (gāo)” = an adjective for high; tall.

“手 (shǒu)” = a noun for hand.

Here in China, locals are always complimenting me on my Mandarin Chinese efforts, even if I’m still at an intermediate level. However, I am working toward the day that I can be called a “高手 (gāoshǒu)”. If a westerner learns to speak fluent Mandarin Chinese in just a few months and can understand what Chinese people are saying on the streets in daily life, while speaking with accurate tone and grammar when ordering meals or buying train tickets, then we students might hear locals say:

Tā shì gè shuō zhōngwén de gāoshǒu.
他  是  个  说     中文         的   高手.
He is a master of speaking Chinese.

Whichever talent or challenge you are working on, you should strive to be a “高手 (gāoshǒu)”. Former President of the United States, Barack Obama, is a “高手 (gāoshǒu)” of making public speeches. His public speaking capabilities are what made him a famous politician and put him in the American and international spotlight. His public speeches are an inspiration for many English learners around the world. That makes him a “高手 (gāoshǒu)”!

Common structure for using “高手 (gāoshǒu)”:
Somebody + 是 (shì) + 高手 (gāoshǒu).


Tā de gēge shì yí wèi yóuxì gāoshǒu.
他  的  哥哥 是 一  位   游戏     高手。
His brother is an expert at games.

Janice shì yí gè yǔyán gāoshǒu, tā néng shuō liù zhǒng yǔyán。
Janice  是 一 个   语言   高手,  她   能     说    6   种       语言。
Janice is a language master and she can speak six languages.

Ronald shì dǎ qiáopái de gāoshǒu.
Ronald  是 打   桥牌    的    高手。
Ronald is a master at bridge.

So, don’t do anything halfway. Like I’m doing with Chinese language, just in all the way and be the best you can be! Who knows, you might even become a “高手 (gāoshǒu)”.
HSK 3 quiz
1. Which would be an example of a “高手 (gāoshǒu)”?
A. You took 2 years to pass the HSK Level 1 exam of Mandarin Chinese.
B. You get married to a Chinese girl whose hands are very long.
C. You won a championship in the world swimming competition.

―Written by Elena Trevino―
Elena Trevino is a Mandarin Chinese student in Beijing studying the language to get a head start in international trade. She is most interested in seeing how Mandarin is affecting the fashion industry throughout the world as Chinese shoppers are now such a large factor. She is frequently attending fashion industry events in Beijing and throughout China.
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