Don’t Be Fooled! (Elementary)

Andrew is very pleased with a text message he just got now. What is happening with Andrew? Let’s take a look.

Wǒ zhòng dà jiǎng le!
Andrew:我     中     大   奖   了!
I won the lottery!

Zhēn de ma?
Nina:真     的  吗?

Kàn! Zhè shì wǒ shōu dào de duǎnxìn.
Andrew:看! 这    是  我   收    到   的   短信。
Look at the message I got.

Nà shì jiǎ de, bié shàngdàng.
Nina:那  是  假 的,别      上当。
That isn’t real. Don’t be fooled.

In this dialogue, Andrew was fooled by a scam text message. A scam can lurk behind any corner, and even something as simple as a text message from a stranger can be dangerous. Thanks to Nina, Andrew wasn’t fooled by the ploy.

Nina says “那是假的,别上当。(Nà shì jiǎ de, bié shàngdàng.)” 别上当 (bié shàngdàng) is a colloquial Chinese phrase which is used to advise someone aginst being fooled. In this phrase, 当 (dàng) is the short version of 当铺 (dàngpù), meaning “pawnshop,” and 上当 (shàngdàng) literally means “to go to the pawnshop.”

What does a pawnshop have to do with being scammed? The following story will clear up your confusion.

During the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911A.D.), there was a rich family who ran a huge pawnshop. Eventually the family got tired of this work, so they decided to hire a knowledgeable man to run the business. Unfortunately for them, the man had little skill in actually running a pawnshop. He rarely valued goods accurately, and within two months the famous store had closed down. Since then, “go to the pawnshop” has taken on the meaning of being fooled, and now people say 上当 (shàngdàng) to mean “to be fooled.”


Xiǎoxīn shàngdàng!
小心         上当!
Be careful not to be fooled!

Lǎorén hé xiǎoháir róngyì shàngdàng.
老人      和 小孩儿    容易      上当。
The very old and the very young are easily cheated.

上 (shàng) and 当 (dàng) can also be used separately, such as “上…的当 (shàng…de dàng)” meaning “to be fooled by.”


Xiǎoxīn! Bié shàng tā de dàng.
小心!    别    上    他 的   当。
Be careful! Don’t be fooled by him.


1. What’s the original meaning of “上当 (shàngdàng)?”__________

A. to go to the pawnshop

B. to go to school

C. to be fooled

2. What’s the meaning of the sentence “我上当了,买了一条假项链。(Wǒ shàngdàng le, mǎi le yìtiáo jiǎ xiàngliàn.)?” ______

A. I went to the pawnshop for a fake necklace.

B. I was excited to buy a necklace at the pawnshop.

C. I was fooled into buying a fake necklace.


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