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What on earth can we “晒(shài)”? (Elementary)

Apr. 7, 2015
Popular Chinese word - 晒(shài)

David and Wang Ming are good friends. One day, Wang Ming asked David to help him 晒(shài) his bed sheets. Wang Ming explained that 晒(shài) is a verb, and when you 晒(shài) something you put it in the sunshine. David really enjoyed learning new words especially when they came up during the course of everyday life. However, a few days later David found that his new found knowledge was to be put to the test. Wang Ming took out his girlfriend’s photo and told David how happy he was with her. A roommate of David's said that Wang Ming was 晒幸福(shài xìngfú). Then David was totally confused. In his understanding, 晒(shài) must be followed by something to be put in the sunshine, but 幸福 (xìngfú) happiness is an abstract idea which cannot be put in the sunshine. So, he asked, “What on earth can we 晒(shài)?”

晒(shài), a verb in Chinese, means to bask something in the sun and it is usually followed by a noun, such as wet or dry bed sheets, clothes, or grains. It can also be followed by adjectives as in 晒干(shàigān) where 干(gān) means dry. Also, we can say 晒太阳(shài tàiyang) which means basking in the sun. To sum up, 晒(shài) was originally used with physical objects, but has since evolved.

In modern Chinese, what we can 晒(shài) has expanded to include many things outside the physical realm. In spite of its original concrete meanings, the term has taken on more abstract usages. The first new meaning is the act of showing or sharing something, like 晒工资(shài gōngzī) in which 工资(gōngzī) is one's wage. If someone 晒工资(shài gōngzī) it means that they are showing how much they have earned publicly via SNS (such as Twitter, Facebook, etc.) or by other media. Another new use of 晒(shài) relates to when someone show the good parts of their life, such as 晒幸福(shài xìngfú) and 晒成功(shài chénggōng). I believe that in the future the ways of using 晒(shài) will only increase. So, what do you want to 晒(shài)?


1. 晒: shài


    Xiǎolì zài shài chuángdān.
    小丽   在   晒      床单。


    Xiaoli is basking her bed sheet in the sun.

    Nǎinai xǐhuan shài tàiyang.
    奶奶     喜欢     晒   太阳。


    My grandmother likes basking in the sunshine.

2. 晒幸福: shài xìngfú


         Nǐ yǒuméiyǒu kànjiàn dàwèi hé tā nǚpéngyǒude zhàopiàn?
Amy: 你    有没有       看见    大卫  和 他     女朋友的       照片?


         Zài nǎli?

Lucy: 在 哪里?


         Where are the pictures?

         Zàiwǎngshàng. Tā hěn piàoliang!

Amy: 在网上。            她   很     漂亮!


         On the Internet, and she is very beautiful.

         Dàwèi zài shài xìngfú a!

Lucy: 大卫   在   晒    幸福 啊!


         David is showing off his happiness!


1. When you have a holiday on a beach, which one of the following means you are enjoying the sunshine?

 A. 我在晒太阳。(wǒ zài shài tàiyang.)

 B. 我在晒床单。(wǒ zài shài chuángdān.)

 C. 我在晒工资。(wǒ zài shài gōngzī.)

2. Which one of the following choices means showing happiness?

 A. 看幸福(kàn xìngfú)

 B. 晒成功(shài chénggōng)

 C. 晒幸福(shài xìngfú)

See Answer

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