Do You Feel Underestimated? Learn How To Use This Word in Chinese

HSK 3 quiz

I like to introduce my students to common words used in Mandarin Chinese daily life. It’s important to learn words to use correctly in all kinds of social situations.
One such popular Mandarin Chinese vocabulary word is “小看 (xiǎokàn).” What does it mean? Let’s look at each character individually so we can understand it fully:
小 (Xiǎo): small; little.

看 (Kàn): look; watch.

小看 (Xiǎokàn): underestimate; belittle; look down upon.

Now let’s look at this case so you can understand it better.
For Chinese people, we will never forget the Athens Olympics when Liu Xiang took the gold medal in a world record-equaling time of 12.91 seconds, matching the feat of Colin Jackson. At that time, Asian people were belittled in track and field events and were never considered to make the finals. However, the Asian people didn’t “小看 (xiǎokàn)” themselves and ended up proving to the world that Asians can run very fast.


Búyào xiǎokàn zhè wèntí.
不  要   小  看   这   问 题。
Do not underestimate this problem.

Wǒ tài xiǎokàn duìshǒu le!
我   太  小  看   对   手  了!
I really underestimated the opponent!

This shows that we can use this word when describing underestimating other people. I use this to describe even my friends when I underestimate their talents or skills, or even their ability to eat a lot!
Watch out! Don’t make this common mistake!
The antonym of “小看 (xiǎokàn)” is not “大看 (dà kàn)” which does not exist in Chinese. In the class, many of my students make this mistake because they know the antonym of “小 (xiǎo)” is “大 (dà),” so they think the antonym of “小看 (xiǎokàn)” should be “大看 (dà kàn).” In fact, the opposite of “小看 (xiǎokàn)” is “重视 (zhòngshì) value.”


重视 (Zhòngshì):

Wǒmen yào zhòngshì xìnggé jiàoyù.
我   们    要     重    视  性  格  教 育。
We must pay attention to the character building.

Zhèngfǔ hěn zhòngshì huánjìng bǎohù.
政      府  很     重   视    环   境   保 护。
The government attaches great importance to environmental protection.

Ready to test your knowledge of this popular Mandarin word? Take the quiz below!

HSK 3 quiz

Búyào ____ wǒ, wǒ lìqì kěshì hěn dà de!
不  要 ____ 我,我力气可 是  很  大 的!
A. 小看 (Xiǎokàn)
B. 大看 (Dà kàn)
C. 重视 (Zhòngshì)

―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!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top