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Die trying? It’s “拼命(pīn mìng)” in Mandarin

Apr. 4, 2015

“拼(pīn)” means “to put together” or “piece together.” When you see someone spare no effort to do something, you can remark that he is very “拼(pīn).” When used for this meaning, “拼(pīn)” is used as an adjective or a verb, meaning to strive or struggle for something.

pīnchē/pīntuán/ pīndān
拼车/       拼团/      拼单

The character “拼(pīn)” can be used in conjunction with a number of other characters to take on new meanings. For example, “拼车(pīnchē)” refers to a carpool. “拼团(pīntuán)” is a tour group consisting of individual tourists. “拼单(pīndān)” means, when shopping online, a person joins others to buy things so that everyone can enjoy a discount or free delivery by reaching a certain number of sales.


Zhèijiàn máoyī zài zuò “mǎi èr sòng yī ” de huódòng, wǒmen pīndān ba!
这件       毛衣   在  做    “买 二  送   一”  的     活动,    我们     拼单   吧!
This sweater is on sale now – “buy two get one free.” Why don’t we buy two together?

Xiànzài hěn liúxíng pīntuán lǚyóu.
现在      很    流行    拼团     旅游。
It is now very popular for individual tourists to join tour groups.

Wǒmen sìgèrén yìqǐ pīnchē shàngbān ba!
我们       四个人 一起  拼车     上班       吧!
The four of us can go to work together by carpool!


When you see someone who works extremely hard, you can say he is very “拼命(pīnmìng)” or “拼(pīn),” which means “to risk one’s life while working hard” or “to go all out working towards something.”


Wèi le zhècì kǎoshì, tā zhēnde pīn le!
为   了  这次    考试,他   真的   拼 了!
He worked extremely hard to get ready for this exam!

Wèi le yǎngjiā, tā bùdébù pīnmìng gōngzuò.
为   了   养家, 他 不得不    拼命       工作。
He has to work exceedingly hard to support his family.

Zhāng Jìng: Tīngshuō zhège jiémù xiàcì yào qǐng dàpái míngxīng, Taylor Swift!
张         静: 听说        这个    节目 下次  要    请    大牌     明星,   Taylor Swift!
Zhang Jing: I heard that the TV show will host superstar Taylor Swift next time!

Lǐ Xiù: Shì a,   wèi le tígāo shōushìlǜ, zhège jiémù yěshì  tǐng pīn de.
李 秀:是 啊,为 了 提高      收视率, 这个   节目  也是    挺  拼   的。
Li Xiu: Yeah, the show spares no effort to improve its audience ratings!


“拼爹(pīndiē)” is a buzzword that is used nowadays which refers to the competition of family background. It is used as a derogatory term. “拼爹(pīndiē)” has become a social phenomenon in which those belonging to the post 80’s generation depend on their parents to get into a certain higher school, hunt for a job, purchase a house, etc.

“富二代(fùèrdài)” and “官二代(guānèrdài)” are two buzzwords deriving from the term “拼爹(pīndiē).” “富二代(fùèrdài)”, the second-generation rich, refers to those who are born with a silver spoon in their mouth. “官二代(guānèrdài)” is used to refer to the children of high officials. They usually hold an advantage over others in competitions, jobs, and so on because of their parents’ fortune or power.

“拼爹(pīndiē)” also exists in other countries besides China. For example, in July 2013, the article Who’s Your Daddy? appeared in the New York Times and aroused heated discussion. It claimed that the essential factor of achievement in America is to have successful parents. In America, children from upper class and lower class almost always stay in the same class when they grow up. According to the article, having the right type of father makes it easier to move up to a higher class, meaning the average American will not find it easy to achieve the “American Dream.”


Lǐ Míng shì gè fùèrdài, dàn tā cóng méi xiǎngguò yào pīndiē.
李  明    是 个  富二代,但  他   从    没     想过      要    拼爹。
Li Ming belongs to the second-generation rich, but he has never considered depending on his parents.

Pīndiē méishénme liǎobùqǐ de,  zìjǐ    kào zìjǐ   cáishì zhēn běnshi!
拼爹      没什么       了不起  的,自己 靠   自己 才是   真      本事!
Relying on your parents is nothing extraordinary, but supporting yourself, now that’s really excellent!


1. “他太拼了。(Tā tài pīn le.)” What does this sentence mean?

A. He works so hard.

B. He is too tired.

C. He is so lazy.

2. How can you express the action of going to work by carpool in Mandarin?

A. 拼团(pīntuán)

B. 拼车(pīnchē)

C. 拼单(pīndān)

3. When we say he got the job by “拼爹(pīndiē),” what do we mean?

A. He got the job for his father.

B. He got the job with the help of his friends.

C. He got the job with the help of his parents.

See Answers


Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff)

General Chinese (Beginner Level)

General Chinese (Intermediate Level)

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