In this lesson, we’re going to look at some more Chinese idiomatic expression. Chinese idioms, or Chengyu (成语), usually consist of four characters. They are equivalent to simple English idioms, such as “when it rains, it pours” and “don’t judge a book by its cover.” Knowing basic idiomatic expressions can increase your understanding of any language, not to mention your degree of acceptance by native speakers.
With that in mind, here are another six commonly-used Chinese Chengyu. For each Chengyu, we’ve provided a literal translation, the essential meaning, and a modern American English equivalent. If you need more help with Chengyu, or any other aspect of the English language, contact the Language Island in Atlanta. Our caring, passionate Chinese teachers can create a lesson plan that is tailored to your individual needs.
脚踏实地 (jiǎo tà shí dì)
Literal meaning: To step on solid ground.
Essential meaning: Work hard, focus on the basics, and make steady progress.
English equivalent: Stay grounded, focus on the road ahead.
津津有味 (jīn jīn yǒu wèi)
Literal meaning: Eat something delicious
Essential meaning: To take great pleasure in doing something.
English equivalent: Devour (literally or figuratively), relish, etc.
九牛一毛 (jiǔ niú yì máo)
Literal meaning: Nine cows and one strand of cow hair.
Essential meaning: Something so small as to be utterly insignificant.
English equivalent: A drop in the bucket.
Literal meaning: A sharp stick points out.
Essential meaning: To fully reveal one’s talent.
English equivalent: To come to the fore.
Literal meaning: A metaphor for someone suddenly displaying talent.
Essential meaning: To become immediately famous.
English equivalent: An overnight sensation, become famous overnight
顺其自然 (shùn qí zì rán)
Literal meaning: To allow something to be naturally.
Essential meaning: Allow something to develop on its own.
English equivalent: Let nature take its course.