Do You Have Backstage Support? Learn This Chinese Word “后台 (Hòutái)”

Chinese General Backstage

Do you feel like you have people to back you up on a daily basis, in daily life? In Mandarin Chinese we have a special word for such sentiment, and the word is:
“后台 (hòutái)”

In reality the word “后台 (hòutái)” has two different meanings when we use it in a sentence.
1. “后台 (hòutái)” n. The area behind a theatrical stage, or “backstage.”
This is a more literal translation of the word and is used to define that particular space in a theatre.


Tā zhèngzài hòutái wèi biǎoyǎn zuò zhǔnbèi.
他    正在     后台    为   表演        做    准备。
He is preparing for the performance in the backstage.

Nǐ zhīdào hòutái zài nǎr ma?
你    知道    后台  在 哪儿 吗?
Do you know where backstage is?

2. 后台 (hòutái): n. backstage supporter; behind-the-scenes backer.

This word is more versatile–Mandarin speakers use it to describe people who have the support or backing of people in a certain setting, such as a company, or in life in general. We also use it to describe “behind the scenes” of a situation.


Jack zài zhè jiā gōngsī de hòutái hěn yìng.
Jack  在  这 家   公司    的  后台    很   硬。
Jack has a very strong backing in this company.

Monica cái shì zhè cì lèsuǒàn de hòutái.
Monica  才 是   这 次  勒索案  的   后台。
Monica was the one pulling strings behind the scenes of the blackmail.

This word is often used in a common Mandarin Chinese phrase: “有后台 (yǒu hòutái)”

“有后台 (yǒu hòutái)” is a common phrase when people use “后台 (hòutái).” When it comes to using “有后台 (yǒu hòutái)” in a sentence, the common structure is:
somebody + somewhere + 有后台 (yǒu hòutái)

Mandy(somebody) + 在公司(in the company, somewhere)+有后台。

Wǒ zài wǒmen gōngsī yǒu hòutái, shuí yě bù gǎn rě wǒ.
我   在    我们     公司    有   后台,谁    也  不  敢  惹 我。
I have strong backing in our company. No one dares to offend me.

HSK 3 quiz
1. Read the dialogue below and choose the correct answer.

A: Nǐ gěi wǒ děngzhe, wǒ yídìng bú huì fàng guò nǐ.
A:你 给  我   等着,   我  一定   不 会   放     过  你。

B: nǐ kě bié luàn lái, wǒ kě shì yǒu hòutái de rén.
B: 你 可 别  乱   来,我  可 是  有    后台   的  人。

In this dialogue, what does “后台 (hòutái)” mean?
A. Backstage
B. Behind-the-scenes backer
C. Actor
D. Theater

— Written by Jennifer Zhu —

Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher from eChineseLearning. She has many years of Chinese language teaching experience and received her B.A. and M.A. in “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language.”
Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff) 
General Chinese (Beginner Level) 
General Chinese (Intermediate Level) 

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