3 Chinese Idioms About Being Grateful in Time for Thanksgiving

HSK 1 quiz

Thanksgiving Day (感恩节 Gǎn’ēn jié) is approaching fast and you know what that means? Everyone is taking the time to think about what they are truly grateful for in their lives. It’s becoming more and more popular to practice the art of expressing and reflecting on what you are grateful for as a daily habit. It helps people realize they have more than they realized and makes them feel happier overall.

感恩节 (Gǎn’ēn jié) Thanksgiving Day

Gǎn’ēn jié shì gǎn’ēn de jiérì.
Thanksgiving Day is a holiday for gratitude.

Many cultures have different ways to express this sentiment but today let’s take a look at Chinese ideas of being thankful since it is one of the oldest cultures in the world. We will explore the meanings behind 3 different idioms that all revolve around the idea of being grateful and put them in sentences that you should be able to use in daily conversation.

感恩 (Gǎn’ēn) Be grateful

Rén yào dǒngdé gǎn’ēn.
People should be grateful.

Wǒmen yào gǎn’ēn lǎoshī de jiàodǎo.
We should appreciate our teacher’s teaching.

节 (Jié) Holiday or festival

Chinese Mini-test: 节日 (Beginner)

Niánqīng rén xǐhuān cānjiā yīnyuè jié.
Young people like joining in the music festival.

Although there is no specific holiday celebrating the day in China, there are some Chinese idioms related to gratitude.

1. 投桃报李 (Tóutáobàolǐ)

To give a plum in return for peach is the literal meaning. This idiom is derived from The Book of Songs, which literally means “he gives me a peach and I send a plum in return”, shows good relationships with friends, especially exchanging gifts between friends.

2. 知遇之恩 (Zhīyùzhīēn)

It means the kindness of recognizing somebody’s worth. This idiom is original from the story of Boya and Zhong Ziqi, Boya and Ziqi are companions because they have a shared interest in music. After Ziqi’s death from illness, Boya breaks his Guqin instrument in memory of his companion.

3. 滴水之恩,涌泉相报 (Dīshuǐ zhī’ēn, yǒngquánxiāngbào)

It means the grace of dripping water, the report of the gushing spring. This idiom is from folk sayings, which talks about when someone helps you, even though it is a little favor, you should return his kindness with interest.

Out of the three we have shared with you today, which one makes you impressive? Take the quiz and then share your thoughts about your ideas of showing gratitude in the comments below.

HSK 3 quiz

1. Read the dialogue below and choose the best option to fill the blank.

Xiǎomíng: Zhè shì nǐ de Gǎn’ēn jié lǐwù, zhù nǐ jiérì kuàilè.

Xiǎohóng: Xièxie nǐ, nà wǒ yě děi _______, zhège shì nǐ de lǐwù.
小红:谢谢你,那我也得 _______,这个是你的礼物。

A. 投桃报李 (Tóutáobàolǐ)

B. 知遇之恩 (Zhīyùzhīēn)

C. 滴水之恩,涌泉相报 (Dīshuǐ zhī’ēn, yǒngquánxiāngbào)

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