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Not All “花(huā) Flowers” in Chinese Are Pleasant!

Feb. 27, 2014

Spring is coming in China! In a few months, the ground will be ablaze with the bright colors and decoration of flowers, such as cherry blossoms, peach blossoms, and winter jasmines, bringing life and vitality back to the earth. In fact, all the beautiful flowers share one general Chinese term “花(huā).” When used as a noun, “花(huā)” refers to flowers, or something resembling flowers, such as “雪花(xuěhuā) snow flakes,” “浪花(lànghuā) sea spray,” or something decorated with flowers, such as “花篮(huālán) a flower basket” and “花车(huāchē) a float.”


Gōngyuán lǐ yǒu hěn duō měilì de huā.
公园          里 有  很    多   美丽 的  花。


There are many beautiful flowers in the park.

Although flowers are beautiful, people will not feel pleased if you refer to them as “花心(huāxīn),” literally meaning “flower’s heart.” Why? In fact, besides the original meaning of “flower,” “花(huā)” can be used as an adjective to refer to someone who is unfaithful in love, thus “花心(huāxīn)” actually means “fickle in a relationship.”


Tā de qiánnányǒu shì yígè hěn huāxīn de rén.
她  的  前男友         是 一个  很   花心    的 人。


Her ex-boyfriend is a playboy.

Last but not least, “花(huā)” is also a verb which means “to spend” or “to expend,” and can be used before time words or money to create the expression “spend time or money,” such as “花钱(huā qián) spend money” and “花时间(huā shíjiān) spend time.” What if you want to express the idea of “spending time / money in doing something?” That would be “花(huā)+ time/money+ verb phrase,” such as “花一个小时洗碗(huā yígè xiǎoshí xǐwǎn) to spend one hour washing the dishes,” “花钱请客(huāqián qǐngkè) spend money entertaining guests,” etc.


Wáng Xuě fēicháng xǐhuan yùndòng, tā měitiān huā liǎngge xiǎoshí yóuyǒng.
王       雪   非常        喜欢     运动,     她 每天     花   两个      小时     游泳。


Wang Xue likes sports very much, and she spends two hours swimming every day.

Lǐ Míng suīrán bù gōngzuò, dànshì hěn xǐhuan huā qián.
李 明     虽然   不  工作,     但是     很   喜欢     花    钱。


Li Ming doesn’t have a job, but he is very fond of spending money.

However, you should remember that “花(huā)” cannot be used to say, “spend time staying at a place,” therefore, such sentences as “我花两年呆在香港(Wǒ huā liǎngnián dāi zài xiānggǎng)。 I spent two years in Hong Kong,” is not correct.


1. Under which cases can we say Dana is “花心的(huāxīn de)?”

A. She is as beautiful as a flower.

B. She dates a boy although she already has a boyfriend.

C. She wants to find a boyfriend who is very handsome.

2. Bob seldom makes ends meet at the end of every month, because he likes to _____.

A. 花时间(huā shíjiān)

B. 花(huā)

C. 花钱(huāqián)

See Answer


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