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Do You Know You Can “Eat a Canteen” in China?(I)

Jul. 14, 2022

What kind of Chinese food do you like best? Is it Mapo Tofu (Stir-Fried Tofu in Hot Sauce), Beijing Roast Duck or Yuxiang Rousi (Shredded Pork with Spicy Garlic Sauce)? But do you know that in Chinese, you can also “chī shí táng (吃食堂) eat a canteen”?

You may wonder, why a canteen could be “eaten”?

In Chinese, chī (吃: to eat) + a place = eat at or in this place. So chī shí táng (吃食堂) means “to eat in the canteen”. We can also say chī dà pái dàng (吃大排档), which means to eat at a food stall; or chī kěn dé jī (吃肯德基), meaning to eat at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

HSK 3 quiz

Examples:

Wǒ jīn tiān zhōng wǔ chī shí táng.
我   今  天     中     午  吃   食  堂。
I’m having lunch in the canteen today.

Shàng cì chī dà pái dàng hái shì qù nián xià tiān.
上      次  吃 大  排    档    还  是  去  年    夏  天。
The last time I ate at a food stall was in last summer.

Xiǎo hái zǐ dōu tè bié xǐ huān chī kěn dé jī.
小    孩  子  都  特 别 喜   欢    吃  肯  德 基。
Children like to eat fast food at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

In spoken Chinese, there are many other interesting phrases containing “chī (吃)”, do you know any of those? Let us introduce you some in this article:

1. Chī dà wǎn (吃大碗)

Chī (吃) + the container, which means to eat with the certain container. Like chī dà wǎn (吃大碗) means to eat with a big bowl. Here, the structure of “吃+ the container” is caused by the displacement of words and in fact, it leaves out some sentence components. For example, we can also say chī huǒ guō (吃火锅): to eat hotpot, and chī guàn tóu (吃罐头) : to eat canned food.

HSK 3 quiz

Examples:

Gē ge zhōng wǔ méi chī bǎo, tā shuō xià cì chī dà wǎn.
哥  哥    中     午   没   吃  饱,他  说   下 次  吃 大   碗。
My older brother didn’t have enough for lunch. He said he would eat with a big bowl next time.

Wǒ tè bié xǐ huān chī huǒ guō.
我  特  别 喜   欢    吃  火    锅。
I like eating hot pot very much.

Chī guàn tóu bú lì yú shēn tǐ jiàn kāng.
吃     罐    头  不利 于   身  体 健    康。
Eating canned food is bad for your health.

2. Chī qīng chūn fàn (吃青春饭)

The phrase chī qīng chūn fàn (吃青春饭) means relying on one’s youthfulness in one’s choice of employment. Chī (吃) in this phrase is used to indicate the meaning of “live off/rely on somebody/something to do something”, for example we can say chī fù mǔ (吃父母), its literal English translation is “Eating your parents”, but of course we don’t do that!Chī fù mǔ (吃父母) means that children live off one’s parents. Here, ” fù mǔ (父母)” is used instead of  “fù mǔ de shōu rù (父母的收入)”, where the word “shōu rù (收入)”: earnings, is left out. Another example is chī dī bǎo (吃低保): live on subsistence allowance.

HSK 3 quiz

Examples:

Hěn duō wǎng hóng dōu shì chī qīng chūn fàn de.
很     多      网     红     都  是   吃   青     春   饭  的。
Quite a lot of online celebrities earn money relying on their beauty and youthfulness.

Wǒ péng yǒu shì fù èr dài, tā shuō yǐ hòu chī fù mǔ jiù xíng le.
我     朋     友  是 富 二 代,他  说  以  后   吃 父  母  就  行  了。
My friend was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so he said he would live off his parents in his future life.

Wǒ shī yè le, zhǐ néng chī dī bǎo guò rì zi.
我   失 业 了,只  能    吃 低  保   过  日 子。
I am out of employment now and have to live on subsistence allowance.

Can you use the phrases containing “chī (吃)” in Chinese accurately now? We’ll teach you some other interesting phrases involving the character in our next article. Stay tuned!

You May Want to Learn More :

“Why are “He/She/It” all “Ta” in Chinese?”

“All You Need to Know about “diàn tī (电梯) Elevator” in Chinese”

”Yì si (意思)-Most Misunderstood Word with So Many Surprising Meanings”

HSK 1 quiz

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