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Screwed Over? In a “坑 (kēng)”? This Lesson May Help!

Dec. 28, 2016

screwed over

As you know, the context and tone of how you say a word or expression in any language can change it’s meaning and intention. In English, you might jokingly say to your friends “you really screwed me over!” during a friendly game of Monopoly. However, you might not want to say that to your boss or in-laws!

In Chinese, we have an expression that is gaining popularity online and is generally used in a joking manner. The expression is “你 () + 坑 (kēng) + 我 (), you screwed me over / buried me”. It’s become a popular expression on the Internet to express dismay and annoyance at someone, especially while playing online video games remotely. “你坑我 (nǐ kēng wǒ)” could be used in a number of scenarios such as betrayal, being “set up” or having your plan foiled.

Of course, with friends it’s popular slang and is not taken so seriously.

So, how did “你坑我 (nǐ kēng wǒ)” come about?
The root is “坑 (kēng)” which is a noun meaning anything related to a “hole, pit or hollow” and generally has an unpleasant meaning.

Zhè tiáo lù shàng yǒu hěn duō níkēng.
这    条   路   上    有    很多       泥坑。
There are too many potholes in this road.

“坑 (kēng)” can also be used as a verb, meaning “to bury, entrap or cheat” someone.

Recently, especially online, people like to use the verb “坑 (kēng)” with the phrase “你坑我 (nǐ kēng wǒ) which means “to ruin or screw up one’s plan”, “to cause someone trouble” or “to betray”. Of course, depending on the context and the tone, it could be used jokingly or seriously.

“你 () you” + “坑 (kēng) pit” + “我 () I / me” = “你坑我 (nǐ kēng wǒ) you buried me.”

Examples of “坑 (kēng)” being used in a sentence:

Búyào qù kēngrén!
不要    去    坑人!
Do not try to entrap others!

Nǐ kě bǎ wǒ kēng huài le!
你 可 把 我   坑     坏  了!
You have really got me into a fix!

So, whenever you are using “你坑我 (nǐ kēng wǒ)” online or face-to-face, be sure your “opponent” understands that you’re using it playfully!


1. Online, you may write “你坑我 (nǐ kēng wǒ)” to your friend if they:
A. invite you out for a game of basketball
B. embarrass you by telling everyone at school who your “secret” crush is
C. “like” your recent post on Facebook
D. share a funny video with you
See Answer

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