Mandarin Love: A Banquet of Chinese Wedding/Marriage Words, With Personal Notes

It’s nearly summer, that intoxicating season of endless love — and, where I’m from, one punctuated by lots of wedding invitations. If you’re planning to tie the knot in China or know someone who will, here’s handy little reference of Chinese wedding/marriage words and expressions, with some of my own personal notes.

Getting Married in Chinese

Qiúhūn, 求婚: Whether you’re getting down on one knee or making a big spectacle, this word means “propose marriage.”

I proposed (marriage) to her.
wŏ xiàng tā qiúhūn le

Note that in recent years, the trend in China is for men to turn wedding proposals into major spectacles — make it memorable and romantic!

Jiéhūn, 结婚: If you’re “getting married” here’s the word for you — as in

We’re getting married!
Wǒmen yào jiéhūn la!

But keep in mind that there are also different words for a woman marrying a man versus a man marrying a woman. The difference reflects the Chinese perspective that the woman marries into the man’s family.

Qǔ,娶: If you’re a man and you are marrying someone, you use qǔ,娶, which also can mean “take a bride”. For example:

He married a girl from Henan.
Tā qǔle gè Hénán gūniang.

Jià, 嫁: Women, however, are perceived as marrying out and so you use the word jià, 嫁 instead. For example:

I married (gave myself to) him.
Wǒ jià gěi tā le.

But if you think that’s confusing, so are anniversary dates in China. That’s because most people register their marriages and thus become officially married ahead of the wedding ceremony itself. (If you’re curious, read The Dengji Question: How Marriage in China Gets Confusing.) Which brings me to the next word…

Dēngjì, 登记: While this word means “to register” in general, it’s also a term people use to describe registering a marriage in China (which must be done in a marriage registration bureau and usually happens before an actual wedding ceremony occurs).

We registered (our marriage)!
Wǒmen dēngjìle!

Hūnlǐ, 婚礼: This is the standard word for “wedding ceremony” and the best term to use when in doubt.

But there are other similar words people often use to talk about wedding ceremonies (which usually just comprise the banquet with guests in China), such as xǐshì, 喜事 (usually taken to mean “wedding”), xǐjiǔ, 喜酒 (meaning “wedding feast”) and of course, hūnyàn, 婚宴 (“wedding banquet”, also the name of the famous film by Ang Lee).

Wedding Attire in Chinese

Hūnshā, 婚纱: The white bridal gown, which has become standard for brides in China. At wedding ceremonies/banquets, the bride usually wears her hūnshā first. If you’re purchasing a wedding dress in China, keep in mind there are lots of options for having yours tailor-made, which is what I did years ago in Suzhou (which like a number of cities, has its own “wedding-dress street).

Tóushā, 头纱: The veil for your white bridal gown.

Qípáo, 旗袍: As I wrote before, the qipao or cheongsam is “a high-necked and form-fitting style of dress with slits down the skirt, often on both sides. The dress first appeared in 1920s Shanghai as a modern take on traditional Manchu garb, and has since evolved into a stylish tradition of its own for women in China.” Since most Chinese brides wear several dresses, many opt to have a qipao at their weddings. I actually wore two at mine.

If you’re debating whether or not to have one, see Do You Need to Wear a Cheongsam in Your Chinese Wedding?

Wǎnlǐfú, 晚礼服: The evening gown, another wedding dress option chosen by many Chinese brides.

But let’s not forget the groom…

Yànwěifú, 燕尾服: A tuxedo, one option for the groom.

Tángzhuāng, 唐装: A Tang suit, which mainly consists of a jacket, often made of silk or silk brocade, to match a bride’s qipao. My husband wore a Tang suit at our wedding.

The Wedding Party in Chinese

Xīnniáng, 新娘: The bride. While weddings in the West traditionally have reflected the bride’s style, weddings in China often revolve heavily around the family and guests. In other words, it’s a family affair, much like in Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet.

Xīnláng, 新郎: The groom.

Xīnrén, 新人: The newlywed couple.

Bànniáng, 伴娘: The bridesmaid(s)

Bànláng, 伴郎: The groomsman/groomsmen

Traditionally, bridesmaids and groomsmen in Chinese weddings should be unmarried individuals.

Other Wedding Must-Haves in Chinese

Hūnshāzhào, 婚纱照: Pre-wedding photos, one of the most important — and glamorous — steps in getting married. There’s a huge industry in China devoted to turning every young couple into models for a day, complete with multiple outfits, professional makeup and hair designers, and airbrushed photos.

Jiéhūn jièzhǐ, 结婚戒指 (hūn jiè, 婚戒): The wedding ring. While not a traditional part of Chinese weddings, most couples today will exchange rings.

Hūnchē, 婚车: The wedding car, a modern version of the traditional wedding sedan chair (or jiàozi, 轿子). Expect your wedding car, which is almost always a luxury model, to be decorated in elaborate flower arrangements.

Xīnfáng, 新房: While it literally means “bridal chamber” — traditionally, extended families lived together so the new couple only had a chamber within the home — now people use the term to refer to the apartment or home purchased explicitly in preparation for a wedding, usually bought by the groom. (The pressure to buy an apartment in China, where prices have skyrocketed in major metropolitan areas, weighs heavily on the shoulders of young men, especially if their families don’t have much money. See Marriage in China Is Home, Car Money?)

Xǐtáng, 喜糖: Wedding candy. Whenever someone gets married in China, they will pass out wedding candy to all their guests as well as friends and even coworkers who may not have attended the nuptials. There’s a whole industry built around this, with ultra-cute boxes for the candies. (I love chocolate, but soft corn candies shaped like miniature corn cobs are a personal favorite as well.)

Nàodòngfáng, 闹洞房: Roughhousing in the bridal chamber, also known as the most humiliating portion of the wedding for the bride and groom. Their friends will either corner them in the banquet hall or follow them back to the new apartment or a rented hotel room, and tease them with risque practical jokes (including those involving bananas). Traditionally, it was done to ease the new couple into their sex life, long before sex education existed; now it’s just done to amuse the guests and make the couple blush, and then some. Sigh.

Hóngbāo, 红包: Red envelopes stuffed with money. Chinese weddings may be exhausting for the couple, but at least you can count on receiving lots of these from your guests.

Other Helpful Chinese Wedding Expressions

Méndānghùduì, 门当户对: Refers to families of equal status. Traditionally, Chinese marriages happened between families that matched each other in rank and wealth.

Báitóuxiélǎo, 白头偕老: A happy greeting for the newlyweds that means, “May you live together until you’re old and gray.”

Sāndàjiàn, 三大件: The three big items, which refers to three must-haves for married couples. Once upon a time when my in-laws married, it was actually four big items (sìdàjiàn, 四大件). In more recent times, the must-haves are things such as a home, car and money — or even a home, car, money and nice honeymoon.

Jīngpílìjié, 精疲力竭: Completely exhausted, which is how the bride and groom will probably feel after that marathon Chinese wedding. Trust me.

What do you think? What terms would you add/recommend?

Mandarin Love: The Three Friends of Winter (Sui Han San You)

It’s January, a time of bitter cold from the Arctic north and the kind of dull gray monochromatic skies that do little to lift winter spirits. For much of my life, I’ve struggled with this month, which falls just after the magic of Christmas. We’re expected to lean forward, look ahead and think of all the bright new things awaiting us in the new year — and meanwhile I’m still trying to shake off that bout of flu that gripped me Christmas day. (Talk about really bad timing.)

But there is one thing that does make the winter more bearable, something I’ve learned through my husband in the past few years — the three “friends” of winter (岁寒三友; suì hán sān yǒu)

Who are these three friends? Pine trees (松; sōng), bamboo (竹; zhú), and plum blossoms (梅; méi). In Chinese, they’re often said together in one phrase. (松竹梅; sōng zhú méi)

They’re our “friends” in the winter because they retain a certain vitality that’s easily forgotten in this most trying season of the year.

Pine trees are evergreen throughout the year, even during these chilly January days.

Bamboo, too, remains green and upright despite the blustery weather.

Most impressive of all is the plum blossom, which welcomes the most frigid days of winter with its beautiful flowers. I have marveled at these flowers on snowy January days, their existence defying what we usually think of nature and when flowers should bloom.

Sometimes, the worst of winter can overwhelm us – and not always in a positive way. It helps to remember these natural symbols, which prove that green and goodness can thrive even in frozen weather. They can inspire us to persevere in our own lives, to let our own light shine brightly through this dark season.

If you have the chance, take a walk sometime and see if you can visit one of these three “friends” of winter.

Happy 2018 to everyone!

4 Chinese Curse Words That Sound Funny in Literal Translation, But Are Actually Serious

By Loozrboy – Watch your language, CC BY-SA 2.0,

I married a Chinese man and we share a bilingual relationship in Chinese and English. So it was inevitable that one day my language learning would extend to that forbidden territory – cursing in Mandarin Chinese.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not the kind of woman who belongs in a Quentin Tarantino movie, dropping F-bombs at gunshot speed. But let’s face it — there are moments that demand a well-chosen curse word. So why not know a few in Mandarin Chinese?

But when it comes to curse words, the most fascinating ones are the least expected. You know, words that don’t necessarily sound like curse words on literal translation. (In fact, they can actually pack a serious punch, so be careful about how you use them.)

Here are four fascinating curse words in Mandarin Chinese that, on literal translation, might sound funny to English speakers. Just remember — use them with care, because whoever hears you might not laugh in return. 😉

狗兔崽子, gǒutùzǎizi – this could literally translate to “dog and rabbit bastards.” I confess, I busted up with laughter when I first heard this curse word. That’s because I was imagining dogs and rabbits trying to mate with each other – how could you not laugh over that?

That said, this curse word actually packs a punch. It’s the Chinese equivalent of SOB. Now you know.

畜生不如, chùshengbùrú – “No better than wild beasts.” The first time I heard this choice curse word, it fell from the lips of an elderly relative in the family, after her husband chose to rudely light up his cigarette indoors despite her pleas.

I love that woman.

While the translation sounds tame enough, it isn’t in Mandarin Chinese. I’ve seen folks translate it as you f***ing beast or simply a-hole.

王八蛋, wángbādàn – you could rewrite this classic curse word into English as “the king of eight eggs.” “egg of a tortoise.” But if you think it’s sounds just as innocuous as the literal translation, you’d be wrong. It actually comes off more like a really strong term for “bastard” or even that bad word for anus. Careful guys.

鬼子,guǐzi – who hasn’t heard this other classic curse word that translates as “devil” or “demon” or “foreign invaders”? Besides, “gui” can also mean “ghost,” so you could be forgiven for thinking this isn’t all that strong.

Except you’d be wrong on that. It actually can be as potent as that World War II ethnic slur against the Japanese — yeah, that word — which is also one definition for the term.


Do you have examples of curse words that sound funny in literal translation, but pack a punch in reality?

Guest Post: Learn Mandarin Chinese – What to Call Chinese Family for Western Women Married to Chinese Men

A few years back, I wrote an article titled The Chinese Relatives Name Game, reflecting on the challenges of trying to remember all of the names for relatives here in China. It’s funny that I’ve been married to my husband for over 10 years and I still can’t keep them straight! (In the post, I even wondered if it might take me a lifetime to get the names right… 😉 )

Of course, with Chinese New Year coming up, it’s as if I’m facing the yearly final exam on this subject – one that I’m not entirely sure I’m going to pass. (Ah well, at least my blunders might provide a bit of comic relief during the holidays?)

That’s why I’m grateful Yiwen Yang has graciously provided this article. It’s an introduction to some of the basics every Western woman who marries a Chinese man should know when it comes to what to call your Chinese family members.

Do you have a guest post that you think ought to be featured on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn more about writing for this blog.

What to Call Chinese Family Members for Western Women Married to Chinese MenThe other day we were reading Jocelyn’s article The Chinese Relatives Name Game again, and thought about how confusing understanding all about Chinese family members can be!

Whilst we’re sure it’s not a new topic for many foreigners who are learning Mandarin Chinese, it’s definitely still a big challenge—especially if you are new to your Chinese family, and them to you.

As Chinese New Year is once again looming, why not refresh some of your Chinese language skills in advance so that you can impress your Chinese family—or maybe give them surprise at how fluent you have become in the language.

So, today, we are going to help you out!

As many of you know, Chinese family trees can be talked about forever. To actually remember the names and titles of people in Chinese family trees takes time; indeed, it’s also challenging for many native Chinese.

As Jocelyn from Speaking of China is more focused on AMWF (Asian male/Western female) love, let’s get started by looking at terms for Western women married to Chinese men.

Here’s an easy one if you are married to a Chinese man:

Husband: 老公,丈夫,先生 (lǎogōng, zhàngfu, xiānsheng)

What will your husband call you? (wife): 老婆,妻子,夫人 (lǎopó, qīzi, fūrén)

Note: 老公 (lǎogōng)/老婆 (lǎopó) are the most popular names which you can use in basically every situation, whilst 丈夫 (zhàngfu)/妻子 (qīzi),先生 (xiānsheng)/夫人 (fūrén) are a bit more formal and used to introduce a couple to other people.

For example, 这是我的先生 (Zhè shì wǒ de xiānsheng):This is my husband


Father in-law (your husband’s father): 公公 (gōnggong)

Mother in-law (your husband’s mother): 婆婆 (pópo)

公公 (gōnggong) and 婆婆 (pópo) are the most common words in use although, in many cases, people just use the same words as their husband use, which are father(爸,bà)or mother(妈,mā).

Also, when you have a child, some people will follow the words the child speaks, namely: grandfather(爷爷,yéye),grandmother (奶奶,nǎinai) 。

So what will your in-laws call you? 媳妇 (xífù)/儿媳 (érxí):(daughter in-law)

Note: in many cases, if they are talking to you, they will just say your name naturally.

Other useful names you might use:

Your husband’s older brother: 大伯(dàbó)
Your husband’s older sister: 大姑子(dàgūzi)
Your husband’s younger brother: 小叔子(xiǎoshūzi)
Your husband’s younger sister: 小姑子(xiǎogūzi)

Sounds complicated already?

Well, here are some great tips for you to follow:

  1. For the older generation/seniors, if you forget the correct way to speak to them, just to follow your husband is fine. (Eg. it’s okay to call your parents in-law just “father” or “mother”.)
  2. For the younger generation/seniors, you can either follow your husband or just say their name directly. (Eg. Your husband’s younger sister. If her name is 筱钧(xiǎojūn),you can just say her name directly.)

You may not need to use all of the above every day but, don’t worry, you’ll soon get used to the best/correct ways of addressing family members.

Actually, on our site Learn Mandarin Now, we recently published two Podcasts about Chinese family members:

  • direct family members:
  • extended family members:

We are now publishing our exciting Podcasts every day from Monday-Friday, covering a variety of interesting topics to help you learn Mandarin Chinese more effectively. They are totally free for everyone to view and listen to but, if you can kindly leave your honest opinion and ratings in i-Tunes or just simply tell us what kind of topics you like us to talk about in the near future, we’d greatly appreciate this. In any event, we’d love hear from you.

Wish everyone a great Chinese New Year ahead!

Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Get Romantic – Watch Chinese Love Films to Help You Learn Mandarin

I’ve always been a romantic at heart, which means when it comes to watching movies, I often opt for a good love story. That’s why I like this guest post from Yang, recommending four outstanding Chinese love films that could help you improve your Chinese at the same time.

Do you have a guest post you’d like to share here at Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn how to have your story or recommendations featured here.

Watching a great love story at the movies or on TV with your loved one is not just fun. It’s also an enjoyable way for you to learn Mandarin and understand more about Chinese culture.

So, today, we are going to recommend some of the most popular Chinese romance based films for you to enjoy:

1. 甜蜜蜜(Almost a Love Story)

1. tian mi mi

This film was released in 1996, just before the return of Hong Kong to China and contains an all-star cast. Director Peter Chan is one of the most famous directors in Hong Kong for love stories. Leon Lai was one of the Four Heavenly Kings (ie one of Hong Kong’s most popular stars during the 1990s) and, in 1996, at the peak of his career. Maggie Cheung, an internationally known Hong Kong actress, also starred in this film, which reflected life in the last decade of the city’s colonial period. In addition, the film honours one of China’s most famous singers (Deng Lijun/Teresa Teng) who passed away in 1995; in fact, one of her songs, Tian Mimi, is often heard throughout the film. The film won numerous plaudits at the Hong Kong film awards in 1996 and became known as one of the classic romantic Chinese films.

2. 色戒 (Lust Caution)

2. se jie

Another great adventure film from Ang Lee, the Oscar winning Taiwanese director. In this film he works with Tony Leung, one of Hong Kong’s top actors, and also Tang Wei, who became a major star after this film. The film attracted a lot of “buzz” when it was released as, besides its famous director and actors, it is very violent with very realistic, often graphic, sex scenes, which are still rare in Chinese films. In any event, the film has been described as a very sophisticated love story.

3. 北京爱情故事(Beijing Love Story)

3. Beijing love story

This film was released with the same name as an earlier hit TV series (similar to Sex and the City) but was not just a predictable extension of the TV show. Rather, the film accurately portrayed both the happiness and typical problems of couples of different ages in China. It has been described as a warm and sensitive film. Another noteworthy point is that the actor/director and leading actress actually fell in love with each other and were married after making the TV show.

4. 那些年,我们一起追的女孩(You Are the Apple of My Eye)

4. na xie nian

If you watch any of the “campus love”/puppy love TV series and films being produced all over China currently, they probably originated as a result of the huge success of this film. The film was directed by Jiu Ba Dao, one of Taiwan’s famous authors, who decided to make a film to honor his teenage love in school. He did not have any prior directing experience and the leading actor and actress were also unknowns. However, when the film was released, it was an instant success, breaking records in Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China—making the lead actors in the film superstars, and encouraging others to produce similar films.

Undoubtedly you have your own favorite Chinese films and, whatever they are, we’re sure that watching Chinese movies will help you learn how to speak Chinese more effectively.

If you are a fan of Chinese movies, why not let us know which ones you have watched, or why you liked them. Or even email us to tell us which one is your very favorite; we’d love to know!

Yang is a serial web entrepreneur whose latest website is Yang is passionate about learning new languages and cultures. You can check out the recent Chinese learning research here: How to learn Chinese.

Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Learn Mandarin Chinese Like Lovers Do

I’ll admit it — I’m a huge fan of “the karaoke method” for learning Chinese. It’s why I wrote a few years back about 8 Bands to Help You Learn Mandarin Chinese for Matador. And it’s also why I’m happy to share this post from Yang of Learn Mandarin Now

Do you have a guest post you’d like to see published here? Visit the submit a post page to learn more about guest post guidelines and how to submit


Learn Mandarin Now Guest Post Picture

Listening to Chinese love songs is a really great way to learn Chinese, and was highly rated in a recent survey we undertook, details of which are consolidated in our blog post: How to Learn Chinese: 50+ bloggers give their tips.

We believe Jocelyn agrees with this, as recall reading one of her own previous blogs on the subject some time ago; so, before we go further, many thanks to her for letting us from Learn Mandarin Now make another guest post here, but this time all about one of our favourite topics: Chinese Love Songs!

Whilst, naturally, everyone has their own tastes in music, listening to Chinese love songs is, perhaps, one of the very best ways to learn Chinese, as it will be sure to get the attention of your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband—and probably find you a “special” tutor into the bargain!

Some of the songs below, both from the past and more modern times, can be considered “classics” and are extremely popular amongst many Chinese people—in some cases being an integral part of Chinese music culture.

Here are four we especially like:

1. The Moon Represents My Heart – 月亮代表我的心

This song is really one of the classic Chinese love songs and almost all Chinese, no matter old or young, will know the lyrics and are happy to sing along with it.

The song was actually written in the early 1970s but it was not until the late 1970s that it came to prominence and fame when Teresa Teng’s(邓丽君) version, which has been described as: love song with a waltz-like lilt”, made the song known throughout Asia.

The essence of the song expressing the feelings that words cannot adequately convey the speaker’s love, whereas the moon, a symbol of romance the world over, can.

2. The Goodbye Kiss – 吻別

First released in 1993 by the famous Jacky Cheung’s (张学友), this song became one of the most popular Chinese love songs in the 1990s. Jacky Cheung, with records sales of over 25 million and internationally famous, is known as one of the “Four Heavenly Kings”(四大天王) of Hong Kong.

In addition to the song, the music video was also very popular in China and, if you ever went to KTV in the country during the 1990s, you would have almost certainly heard people asking for and singing along with this song.

3. Red Bean – 红豆

Written by the famous Hong Kong lyricist Lin Xi(林夕), Red Bean is one of the most famous and successful of Faye Wong’s(王菲) love songs, released in 1998 at the height of her success.

Faye Wong is considered to be one of the “divas” of Chinese music, as well as the queen of “Canto-pop”—and one of the highest paid singers in the region. These days, Faye Wong rarely appears on TV or in movies or releases any new albums, yet when she does do a concert it’s usually sold out in just minutes, no matter how high the ticket prices.

4. Marry Me Today-今天你要嫁给我

Marry Me Today, sung in a duet by famous Taiwanese artists David Tao(陶喆) and Jolin Tsai(蔡依林) is, not surprisingly in view of its title, one of the most popular songs heard at Chinese weddings.

Released in 2006 on David Tao’s fifth studio album “Beautiful”, this song became an almost instant hit for the singer, for whom it subsequently won the “best song” at the prestigious GMA Awards. It can usually be heard at any typical KTV session where couples love to sing it together/to each other.

There are so many Chinese love songs to choose from that we had a hard time selecting only four. In fact, if you have some special love song which has helped you learn Mandarin Chinese, be sure to let us know by visiting our website:

Yang is a serial web entrepreneur whose latest website is He is passionate about learning new languages and cultures. 


Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Guest Post: Learn Chinese with phrases of love and affection

A while back I started a Friday column of my own titled Mandarin Love, covering how to express your love in Chinese with some special Chinese idioms. (My Mandarin Love post on Chinese phrases on love and destiny is one of the 10 most popular posts on this site.)

So I was thrilled to receive this guest post from Yang of Learn Mandarin Now, who offered to revive my Mandarin Love series with an entry of his own. 

Do you have a few good Chinese phrases or a great story to share on Speaking of China? Check out the submit a post page to learn how you can have your guest post published here.


Learn Mandarin Now_1Firstly, sincere thanks to Jocelyn for inviting us from Learn Mandarin Now to write a guest blog post.

Following on with Jocelyn’s own theme of phrases and of love and affection in Mandarin Chinese, we’d like to highlight several more very well known Chinese phrases dealing with matters of the heart and highlighting the yearning and passion lovers can have for each other…

One of our favourites is:

Jin Yu Liang Yuan (金玉良缘, jīnyù liángyuán) which literally means: a perfect couple, with a shining, ideal future.

This phrase often appears with reference to Chinese weddings and refers to   the prospects for a good marriage. It is originally from the Dream of the Red Chamber(红楼梦), one of China’s Four Great Classical Novels. This novel was written sometime in the middle of the 18th century during the Qing Dynasty and is considered to be a masterpiece of Chinese literature.

With its inferences for a good future and a successful marriage, Jin Yu Liang Yuan is also a popular name for many TV shows and dramas in China.

Then there is Fei Cheng Wu Rao (非诚勿扰, fēichéngwùrǎo) which literally means: “If you are not sincere, don’t bother me.”

There are two main reasons this phrase is so popular in China, and both relate to the cinema and TV.

The first reason relates to the name for the popular love story/romantic comedy movie, from 2008: ”If You Are The One” which starred two famous Chinese movie stars, Shu Qi(舒淇) and Ge You(葛优), and was also directed by one of China’s best known directors, Feng Xaiogang(冯小刚).

The other reason is that Fei Cheng Wu Rao is also the name of a TV show produced by the Jiang Su television station and is the Chinese version of the well known dating TV show “Take Me Out”. This Chinese version is hosted by famous TV host Meng Fei(孟非) although, in fact, in recent years, more and more single foreigners, including overseas Chinese, have also joined the show, and some of them have even found the right partner.

Learn Mandarin Now_2

Another very popular expression (shown below) literally means “Once, true love was placed before me, but I didn’t cherish it. After I lost it, I regretted it. This was the most painful thing in the world and if heaven could give me another chance, I would say to that girl three words, “I love you.” If I had to place a time limit on this love, I hope it would be 10,000 years.”


This expression originated from a Stephen Chow (one of Hong Kong’s most famous film stars who combines kung-fu style action with comedy) movie and most Chinese growing up at the time this movie was released know this line well. Although not so popular at first in Hong Kong, the movie finally became well known in Mainland China and became recognised as one of the best movies made by Stephen Chow—especially for these classic lines.

Of course, there are many other Chinese phrases which convey the feelings of cherished love and you can find some more of them with a little research or, if you simply wish to brush up on your Mandarin, take a look at our site Learn Mandarin Now

Yang is a serial web entrepreneur whose latest website is He is passionate about learning new languages and cultures. Yang is currently working on researching the preferred ways 50 international bloggers learn Chinese, and will share the results in his blog shortly.


Speaking of China is always on the lookout for outstanding guest posts! If you have something you’d like us to feature, visit the submit a post page for details — and then submit yours today.

Mandarin Love: Chinese Idioms For Talking About Sex

A red, light-up sign that says "Sex in progress"
(photo by Jean KOULEV)

Maybe it’s the summer, but I’ve got love…and love-making on my mind.

So let’s talk about sex, baby…in Chinese. The language has some splendid idioms on the subject — here are three of my favorites. And who knows? Maybe a little talk about what goes on beside your pillows might turn into a little pillow talk after all. Continue reading “Mandarin Love: Chinese Idioms For Talking About Sex”

Mandarin Love: Breaking Up (In Chinese)

A girl looking at her cell phone and looking sad over a breakup
(photo from Ed Yourdon’s Flickr)

Blame it on moving.

One day, just before my husband and I hit the road — and left Idaho in our rearview mirror — I joked with him, “Finally, we’re breaking up with Idaho.”

Then I got to thinking about breaking up, and the idioms people use in Chinese to talk about it. Sure, I’m happily married, but I’ve had my share of breakups on the road to my own “double happiness” (including two other guys in China before John) and chances are, so have you — perhaps even at the moment you read this.

Here are some of my favorite Chinese idioms to use when talking about breaking up. Continue reading “Mandarin Love: Breaking Up (In Chinese)”

Mandarin Love: I Miss You (in Chinese)

A blonde girl looking up with a longing look on her face
(photo by Lavinia Marin)

During that first Autumn I dated John, I truly learned the meaning of “I miss you” in Chinese.

John started his graduate studies at a university in Shanghai, and I stayed back in Hangzhou because of my job. I craved those weekends every two weeks when John returned to Hangzhou like a heroin addict craves their next hit. Which is why, when John wasn’t in town, I’d spend an embarrassing amount of time envisioning our next weekend together — from the the restaurants and the sights we’d see right down to how I’d greet him when he stepped off the bus in front of my community.

So one night, I decided to greet him with an idiom that captured all of the yearning in my heart (a yearning that, admittedly, must have been so nauseating to my Chinese friends at work that they taught me said idiom to get me off the subject). That weekend, I met John at the bus stop with a dozen red roses and the phrase wàngchuānqiūshuǐ (to look forward to or await with restless anticipation).

John loved it, though I’m certain my friend Caroline called the whole scene “nauseating” when I shared it with her at work.

Now that Spring is upon us, a season of longing and love, I thought I’d share a few good Chinese idioms that come in handy when you’re missing or thinking of your sweetheart, or just can’t wait to see them. Each explanation comes with my own intentionally nauseating example of how to use it (you know you love it, Caroline). 😉 Continue reading “Mandarin Love: I Miss You (in Chinese)”