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感冒(gǎnmào), have an interest for something or somebody (Elementary)

Mar. 12, 2013

 “感冒(gǎnmào)” literally means “catch a cold.” But it can also mean “have an interest for something or somebody.”

The famous Chinese singer, Jay Chou, is throwing a concert in Jack’s hometown. Jack wants to invite his girlfriend Lily, but will she go? Let's take a look.

Conversation 1:

          Wǒmen míngtiān qù kàn Zhōu Jiélún de yǎnchànghuì ba!
Jack:我们         明天    去   看    周     杰伦  的       演唱会     吧!


           Let’s go to Jay Chou’s concert tomorrow!

           Wǒ gǎnmào le, bù xiǎng qù.
   Lily:我    感冒    了,不  想    去。


Conversation 2:

          Wǒmen míngtiān qù kàn Zhōu Jiélún de yǎnchànghuì ba!
Jack:我们         明天     去  看     周   杰伦   的      演唱会      吧!


           Let’s go to Jay Chou’s concert tomorrow!

          Wǒ duì tā de gēqǔ bù gǎnmào.
  Lily:我   对 他 的  歌曲  不   感冒


Lily uses the term “感冒 (gǎnmào)” in both conversations when answering Jack’s invitation. We know the meaning of 感冒 (gǎnmào) is "a cold," but what does “不感冒 (bù gǎnmào)” mean?

We've already seen that “感冒 (gǎnmào)” means “the common cold.” In the first conversation, the sentence “我感冒了,不想去。(Wǒ gǎnmào le, bù xiǎng qù.)” means, “I would like to go to the concert, but I have a cold.” In this conversation, the term “感冒 (gǎnmào)” is being used literally: catch a cold.

You can’t find “感冒 (gǎnmào)” at all in TCM books even though it is a kind of illnesses. Instead, the first appearance of this word is in officialdom and has an interesting story connected to it.  In ancient China, when officials in a certain department wanted to ask for leave, they chose a less than imaginative excuse: illness. They would write “感风 (gǎnfēng),” which means “to catch a cold,” in the register book. In the word 感风 (gǎnfēng), 感 (gǎn) means “to be affected by” and 风 (fēng) means “wind chill.” When the Qing Dynasty came around, an official wrote the word “感冒 (gǎnmào)” as the excuse to ask for leave. 冒 (mào) means “to come out.” What he wanted to express was that he continued to work after “感风 (gǎnfēng),” but now the symptoms of a cold have come out or appeared and had to ask for leave. Since that time, people have continued to say “感冒 (gǎnmào)” instead of “感风(gǎnfēng).”

Now you know the history of the word, but keep in mind that 感冒 (gǎnmào) can be used as both a noun and a verb. Let’s take a look at some examples.


1. 感冒 (gǎnmào) as a noun:

Gǎnmào shì yìzhǒng jíbìng.
感冒        是    一种    疾病。


The flu is a disease.

2. 感冒 (gǎnmào) as a verb:

           Nǐ zěnme le?
Lucy:你  怎么  了?


           What’s wrong with you?

          Wǒ gǎnmào le.
Mary:我    感冒   了。


           I caught a cold.

“感冒 (gǎnmào)” also has a slang meaning. This is what Lily uses in the second conversation. She says, “我对他的歌曲不感冒。(Wǒ duì tā de gēqǔ bù gǎnmào.).” What she says has nothing to do with illness, but instead means “I’m not interested in Jay Chou’s songs.” In this case, the term “不感冒 (bù gǎnmào)” means “to not be interested.”



           Nǐ yuànyì zuò Jack de nǚpéngyou ma?
Mary:你  愿意    做  Jack 的     女朋友     吗?


           Did you agree to be Jack’s girlfriend?

           Bú yuànyì.
Lucy:不    愿意。



           Wèishénme? Tā zhǎng de nàme shuài!
Mary:为什么?         他    长     得   那么   帅!


           Why not? He’s so handsome!

           Wǒ duì shuàigē bù gǎnmào.
Lucy:我    对    帅哥    不    感冒


           I’m not interested in handsome boys.


Tā duì bīngjīlín bù gǎnmào.
他  对   冰激淋  不    感冒


He is not interested in ice-cream.

Now do you understand the difference between “感冒 (gǎnmào)” and “不感冒 (bù gǎnmào)?” Drill your understanding with the following exercises.


1. What does the sentence “妈妈感冒了。(Māma gǎnmào le.)” mean?___

A. Mom is not interested in catching a cold.

B. Mom is interested in catching a cold.

C. Mom caught a cold.

2. Which one of the following means “Tom is not interested in boxing.?” ______

A. Tom 打拳击时感冒了。(Tom dǎ quánjī shí gǎnmào le.)

B. Tom 对拳击很感兴趣。(Tom duì quánjī hěn gǎn xìngqu.)

C. Tom 对拳击不感冒。(Tom duì quánjī bù gǎnmào.)

See answers


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