In Chinese, “black color” is黑色 (hēi sè). And just like in other countries, the color black in Chinese culture is used to signify evil, wicked, or negative aspects in life. When the word 黑 (hēi) is combined with other words, it can express different negative meanings. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
黑心 (hēi xīn)
心 (xīn) means “heart”, so this combination literally means “black heart”, and it refers to someone with evil intentions in mind.
他是一个黑心的商人。(Tā shì yí ɡè hēi xīn de shānɡrén.)
He is a black-hearted businessman.
(This means that this businessman cheats when doing business, or is dishonest in his dealings with others).
黑手 (hēi shǒu)
手 (shǒu) means “hand”, so this combination literally means “black hand”, and it refers to someone who does evil actions.
他就是那个背后黑手。(Tā jiù shì nà ɡè bèi hòu hēi shǒu.)
He was the evil backstage manipulator.
(This means that this kind of person does things in secret to bring about bad things to others).
黑脸 (hēi liǎn)
脸 (liǎn) means “face, so this combination literally means “black face”. When you feel anger or hatred, the Chinese term for this is “black face”. The English equivalent would be “black mood”, which describes the emotion more directly. So to say “黑脸 (hēi liǎn)”, would indicate that the person must be upset.
每天一看到他的黑脸，我也变得不高兴了。(Měitiān yí kàndào tā de hēi liǎn, wǒ yě biàn dé bù ɡāo xìnɡ le.)
I also tend to be unhappy everyday as soon as I see his black face.
黑马 (hēi mǎ)
马 (mǎ) means “horse”, so this combination literally means “black horse”. The English equivalent would be “dark horse”, which means an unknown or little-regarded competitor that surprises others by winning.
在这次选举中，他是一匹黑马。(Zài zhè cì xuánjǔ zhōnɡ, tā shì yì pǐ hēi mǎ.)
In this election, he is a dark horse.
(And by winning the election, he will surprise others by beating the stronger candidates.)
As you can see from these examples, Chinese and English share some similar expressions with the use of the word “black”. If you would like to share any other expressions or would like to ask for the Chinese equivalent of English ones, please don’t hesitate to comment!
In Chinese the colour white is always expressed as “白色” (bái sè). But白(bái) is also a common word for “doing something in vain”.
Colloquially in English we would say “doing something for nothing”. E.g. I stood in the cold for two hours, but the lead singer went out of a different entrance, so I waited all that time for nothing!
The structure for this use in Chinese is: 白(bái)+verb
Here are some examples for how this is used:
1. 白做 (bái zuò)
(Wǒ de diànnǎo tūrán guān jī le, kěshì wǒ wàngjì bǎocún wǒ de wéndàng le. āi！ Bái zuò le!)
My computer suddenly shut down, but I forgot to save my documents. Oops! My work was in vain!
2. 白活 (bái huó)
(Tā kāi wánxiào shuō, shí nián hòu hái méiyǒu mǎi fángzi jiù bái huó le.)
He joked that he would live in vain if he still couldn’t buy a house after ten years.
3. 白等 (bái děng)
(Jīntiān wǒ hé yí gè péngyou yuē hǎo yìqǐ qù chī wǎnfàn, kěshì tā yìzhí méi
yǒu lái， yě méiyǒu gěi wǒ dǎ diànhuà. Suǒyǐ wǒ bái děng le tā liǎng gè xiǎo shí.)
Today I made an appointment with a friend to go to dinner, but he has not come, and he did not even give me a call. So I waited for him for two hours in vain.
4. 白说 (bái shuō)
(Wǒ gēn tā tán le liǎng gè xiǎoshí， tā hái shì fàngqì le. Wǒ zhēn de bái shuō le.)
I talked with him for two hours, but he still gave up. I really felt that everything that I said was in vain.
Ok, so now could you try to make a sentence with the pattern “白(bái)+verb” and share it with us in the comments below!
Last week, my British student Mark came to China for a business trip. He told me that his Chinese colleague gave him some Shanghai local specialties.
“My colleague said ’zhè shì yì diǎnr xiǎo yìsi’. But I didn’t understand and got totally confused about意思 (yìsi),” he said.
Actually it is not only Mark who has such problem but most of our students. So to help all the Marks out there, let’s look at some examples for the most common uses of 意思 (yìsi)!
1. meaning; idea
(1) (Zhè shì shénme yìsi？)
What does this mean?
(2) (Zhè ge jùzi shì shénme yìsi？)
What is the meaning of this sentence?
2. intention; wish; desire
(1) (Zhè piān wénzhāng de zhōngxīn yìsi shì shénme？)
What is the main meaning of this article?
(2) (Wǒ bù míngbai tā de yìsi.)
I don’t understand what he meant.
3. a token of affection, appreciation, etc.
(1) (Zhè shì yì diǎn xiǎo yìsi ， qǐng shōu xià.)
This is a little piece of cake, please accept it.
(2) (Nǐ yìsi yí xià jiù hǎo le ， bú yòng gěi nà me duō lǐwù.)
You don’t need to give so many gifts, a piece of case is just fine.
4. interest; fun
(1) (Dǎ lánqiú hěn yǒuyì)
Playing basketball is very interesting.
(2) (Tā gàosu wǒ xuéxí wàiyǔ méiyǒu yì)
He told me that learning foreign languages is not interesting.
5. feel embarrassed；sorry
(1) (Bù hǎo yìsi ， dǎrǎo yí xià.)
(2) (Wǒ kāi huì chídào le， juédé hěn bù hǎo yì)
I felt very embarrassed that I was late for meeting.
So now, do you still have any other question about “yìsi”? Please feel free to ask us questions in the comments below!
To start off, let me wish you “新年快乐(xīn nián kuài lè)！” This is a common greeting between Chinese people around both the time of the Gregorian calendar New Year and the Chinese traditional New Year.
“新年快乐!” is a good place to start when learning New Year greetings, because it is the expression that most closely translates to the ubiquitous English “Happy New Year!”. But Chinese people more often use other popular expressions of best wishes, which depend on who you are greeting! Let’s take a look together!
We always wish good health to the elderly and greet them with:
祝您身体健康！(Zhù nín shēntǐ jiànkāng!) or wish you good health!
Remember to use the polite form of you 您 “nín” which is a mark of respect for your elders and superiors.
It’s traditional to wish the men in your life success in work. We say:
祝你工作顺利！(Zhù nǐ gōngzuò shùnlì!) or wish you success in work!
Traditionally we wish women happiness and beauty, which we express as:
祝你天天开心, 越来越漂亮！(Zhù nǐ tiāntiān kāixīn, yuè lái yuè piàoliang!) or Wish that you are happy everyday and become ever more beautiful!
We always wish kids happiness and progress in their studies and learning by telling them:
祝你开开心心, 学习进步！(Zhù nǐ kāi kāi xīn xīn ， xué xí jìn bù!)
Wish you happiness and progress in your studies!
If you would like to express your best wishes to an entire family, you can say :
祝你们合家欢乐,万事如意！(Zhù nǐmen hé jiā huānlè，wàn shì rúyì！)
Wish all of you a happy life, may everything go as well as you could wish!
Have you ever seen this picture? It represents another very popular new year greeting called “恭喜发财”（gōng xǐ fā cái）. Do you know what does this means? Tell us in the comments!