Toll Free - U.S.& Canada:  1-800-791-9386   Hong Kong:  800-902-058   Australia:  1-800-779-835
Free online Chinese learning support
  • Follow us on Facebook!
  • Watch Our YouTube Videos!
  • Follow us on Twitter!
  • Follow us on WeChat!
    Follow Us in WeChat by Scanning!
    Follow Us in "WeChat"
    by Scanning
  • Follow us on LinkedIn
  • Explore Our Instagram Videos & Photos!
United Kingdom:  0-800-086-8969   Germany:  0-800-180-0341   Singapore:  800-130-1652
France:  0-805-080-689   Spain:  900-838-906    

Disagree? Join the Debate and Learn “唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào)”!

Oct. 20, 2017

Chinese General disagree

One of my favorite Mandarin Chinese conversation classes to teach is debate. When my classes have friendly debates about social issues or cultural differences, it gives Chinese learners a chance to think critically and also learn and apply some important, everyday Mandarin expressions to the discussion. Today, I will teach you one of these important sayings: “唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào)”.

People use this phrase to show that they have a differing opinion about a topic or issue, or when they deliberately act contrary to someone else’s behavior. It’s a Chinese equivalent of the English “sing a tune opposite to that of” or express an opposing opinion. In fact, the literal translation is exactly that!

Let’s break it down:

唱 (chàng) = a verb, meaning “to sing”;

反调 (fǎndiào) = a noun, meaning a contradictory opinion;

唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào) = sing a tune opposite to that of; deliberately speak or act contrary to.

The common structure for using “唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào)” :

Subject 1 + 跟/和 + Subject 2 + 唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào).

How you can use “唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào)” in a conversation:

Tā lǎo shì gēn tā fùqīn chàng fǎndiào.
他  老 是  跟   他 父亲    唱     反调。
He is always opposing his father.

Jack zǒng shì hé lǎobǎn chàng fǎndiào.
Jack  总    是  和  老板      唱    反调.
Jack is always disagreeing with his boss.

A common place that you will find “唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào)” is in the daily headline news.
Examples of such headlines could be:

Rìběn yǔ měiguó chàng fǎndiào.
日本   与   美国     唱      反调。
Japan Speaks Out Against U.S.

Měiguó cáizhǎng zǒng shì hé tèlǎngpǔ chàng fǎndiào.
美国      财长       总     是  和  特朗普      唱    反调。
US Treasury Secretary Consistently Disagreeing with Trump.

In formats such as debate, politics and newsprint, you will commonly find the phrase “唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào)” in conversation and print. Remember, disagreements are part of life and we often “lock horns”, sometimes in a friendly way and sometimes in a not-so-friendly way!


1. In which situation could you not use “唱反调 (chàng fǎndiào)”?

A. Everyone wants to sleep now, but you are playing pop music loudly.
B. Your parents hope the all of their children can get married soon, but you say that you wish to remain single.
C. The USA and China sign a new trade agreement.
D. You decide to not wear the school uniform and dress with your own style.

See Answer Analysis

―Written by Becky Zhang―
Becky Zhang is a teacher at She has over eight years of experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to foreign students and promoting Chinese culture. She lives in Beijing but loves traveling to ancient Chinese villages. One day she’d like to be a tour guide in China!

More You May Want to Know

Chinese Idiom: 哪壶不开提哪壶 To Touch A Soft Spot

Jump on the Bandwagon with this Chinese Phrase: “墙头草(qiángtóucǎo)”

Chinese Idiom: 钻牛角尖 To Rush into a Dead End

一分钱,一分货 (yì fēn qián , yì fēn huò) You get what you pay for (Advanced)

Got questions? Take a free 1-to-1 lesson with one of our professional teachers by signing up below:

search no result

By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
Your email address and phone number

Write a comment

Your Name: 
Your Email:  Your email address will not be published.
Verification Code:  Verification Code Unclear? Try another one
By clicking Submit, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
Email This Article
Recipients' email addresses:
(separate recipients with comma)
Your name:
Your e-mail address (optional):
Your message (optional):
Verification Code:
By clicking Send, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Get 11 FREE Mandarin E-books
Sign up for a free trial now!
Get more information about our Chinese lessons through live chat
Get a FREE live 1-to-1 lesson and FREE e-books. Complete the form below:

search no result

By clicking Submit, you agree to our
Terms of Service
and Privacy Policy.
Your email address and phone number