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Open Your Eyes: “占便宜 (zhàn piányi)” is Everywhere, Unfortunately!

Dec. 14, 2016


An old English expression says:

“Most burglaries are committed by casual opportunists”

We all know someone who will step over their neighbors to get what they desire. It happens in every country and every culture, unfortunately. When these opportunistic people take advantage of a situation, in Chinese we call this action “占便宜 (zhàn piányi).” It could mean taking financial advantage of someone or “turning the tables” to make sure things go in that person’s favor. In addition to the aforementioned situations, “占便宜 (zhàn piányi)” also has a special meaning when females are being mistreated.

Let’s take a closer look at “占便宜 (zhàn piányi)”:

Knowledge Point:

占便宜 (zhàn piányi): to gain an extra advantage by unfair means; to profit at another person’s expense;
be in an opportunistic position

Examples of “占便宜 (zhàn piányi)” in daily life:

Nǐ gèzi gāo, dǎ lánqiú zhàn piányi.
你 个子 高,打  篮球    占  便宜。
A tall fellow like you has an advantage in playing basketball.

Tā hěn yǒu quánshì, dàn tā cóng bú zhàn piányi.
他  很   有    权势,  但   他   从   不  占    便宜。
He has found his castle but he doesn’t take advantage of it.

Tuōní zài jiālǐ zǒng shì xiǎng jìn bànfǎ zhàn piányi.
托尼  在 家里  总    是  想    尽  办法   占    便宜。
Tony always managed to get the best of things in that family.

And then the “additional meaning”. Warning: Be careful when using “占便宜 (zhàn piányi)” around all those Chinese “女神 (nǚshén)”!

Sometimes in Chinese, we use “占便宜 (zhàn piányi)” to express when one “acts indecently towards a woman or women,” and usually we would use this structure:

占 + (the woman/women) + 便宜

Examples of “占 + (the woman/women) + 便宜”:

Yǒu xiē rén zài gōngjiāochē shàng zhàn nǚshì de piányi.
有    些 人   在     公交车      上       占    女士  的   便宜。
There are some people who act indecently towards women on the bus.

Zhè gūniang xiàng jǐngchá shuō nà nánrén zài huǒchē shàng zhàn tā piányi.
这     姑娘      向     警察    说     那   男人   在    火车     上      占   她  便宜。
The girl complained to the police that the man had been touching her inappropriately on the train.

In addition to friendly jokes, it’s best not say “我要占你便宜 (wǒ yào zhàn nǐ piányi)” to a girl in any situation.


1. All of the following are examples of “占便宜 (zhàn piányi)” behavior except:

A. a student making friends with the smartest student in the class to copy their notes
B. a store owner selling a product to a foreigner at a higher price
C. two friends opening a business together and sharing the profits
See Answer

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Hi Bharat. You did a good job! (*^__^*)

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