Chinese Proverbs With Pinyin and Original Translations

谚语, 成语 and 歇后语


Reduced to mere skeletons by one’s grief.
哀毁骨立 (Aī huǐ gǔ lì)


Love my house, love the crow on it.
爱屋及乌 (ài wū jí wū)


One gourd is pushued under the water, but another floats up.
按下葫芦起了瓢。 (àn xia húlu qǐ le piáo)


Almost grieved to death.
悲痛欲绝 (Bēi tòng yù jué)


You can’t expect to catch a cub without venturing into a tigress’s den.
不入虎穴焉得虎子 (Bù rù hǔxué, yān dé hǔzǐ)


Eight Immortals cross the sea, each employing his or her theurgy.
八仙过海,各显其能 (Bāxiān guò hǎi, gè xiǎn qí néng)


Seeing once is better than hearing a hundred times.
百闻不如一见 (Bǎi wén bù rú yí jiàn)


Display one’s proficiency of axe in front of the master carpenter.
班门弄斧 (Bān mén nòng fǔ)


Lift a stone only to drop on one’s own feet.
搬起石头砸自己的脚 (Bān qǐ shítóu zá zìjǐ de jiǎo)


A bottle half filled (with vinegar) tends to rock.
半瓶醋—乱晃荡 (Bàn píng cù—luàn huàngdang)


Putting out a fire while holding firewood.
抱薪救火 (Bào xīn jiù huǒ)


Mistaking the reflection of a bow in a cup for a snake.
杯弓蛇影 (Bēi gōng shé yǐng)


How can you put out a fire set on a cart load of firewood with only a cup of water?
杯水车薪 (Bēi shuǐ chē xīn)


A clumsy bird that flies first will get to the forest earlier.
笨鸟先飞早入林 (Bèn niǎo xiān fēi zǎo rù lín)


You have no idea how much rice and fuel cost without being the head of a household.
不当家不知柴米贵 (Bù dāngjiā bù zhī chái mǐ guì)


You can’t appreciate the love of your parents without having children of your own.
不养儿不知父母恩 (bù yǎng ér bù zhī fùmǔ ēn)


Shed no tears until seeing the coffin.
不见棺材不落泪 (Bù jiàn guāncái bù luò lèi)


Not giving up until one reaches the Yellow River.
不到黄河不死心 (Bù dào Huánghé bù sǐxīn)


We are not so much concerned when you are slow as when you come to a halt.
不怕慢,就怕站 (Bú pà màn, jiù pà zhàn)


A fire set to a city gate kills the fish in the moat down below.
城门失火,殃及池鱼 (Chéngmén shī huó, yāng jí chíyú)


A new born calf fears no tigers.
初生之犊不怕虎 (Chū shēng zhī dú bù pà hǔ)


Flies never infest an egg without cracks.
苍蝇不叮无缝蛋 (Cāngyíng bù dīng wú fèng dàn)


Hidden dragons, crouching tigers.
藏龙卧虎 (Cáng lóng wò hǔ)


A minimal error at the start leads to a wide divergence in the distance.
差之毫厘,失之千里 (Chà zhī háo lí, miù yǐ qiān lǐ)


One who walks along a river frequently cannot avoid getting his shoes wet.
常在河边走,哪能不湿鞋 (Cháng zài hébiān zǒu, nǎ néng bù shī xié)


Drinking the water of a well, one should never forget who dig it.
吃水不忘掘井人 (Chī shuǐ bù wàng juē jǐng rén)


A fall into a ditch, a gain in your wit.
吃一堑,长一智 (Chī yī qiàn zhǎng yī zhì)


A feet can be shorter while an inch can be longer.
尺短寸长 (Chǐ duǎn cùn cháng)


Notoriety travels farther away.
臭名远扬 (Chòu míng yuǎn yáng)


Riddance of evil must be thorough.
除恶务尽 (Chú è wù jìn)


If the lips are gone, the teeth will grow cold.
唇亡齿寒 (Chún wáng chǐ hán)


There is no silver here: three hundred taels.
此地无银三百两 (Cǐ dì wú yín sān bǎi liǎng)


Thick branches and big leaves.
粗枝大叶 (Cū zhī dà yè)


Prescribe the right medicine for a symptom.
对症下药 (Duì zhèng xià yào)


Read critically, and you will find each word worth a thousand ounces of gold.
读书需用意,一字值千斤 (Dú shū xū yòng yì, yī zì zhí qiān jīn)


A single tree makes no forest; one string makes no music.
独木不成林,单弦不成音 (Dú mù bù chéng lín, dān xián bù chéng yīn)


Play a harp before a cow
对牛弹琴 (Duì niú tán qín)


A girl apes her neighbor’s frowning.
东施效颦 (Dōngshī xiào pìn)


Dripping water can eat through a stone.
滴水穿石 (Dī shuǐ chuān shí)


Lure a tiger down its mountain.
调虎离山 (Diào hǔ lí shān)


Turn stone into gold by the touch.
点石成金 (Diǎn shí chéng jīn)


Forget the fishing gear as soon as the fish is caught.
得鱼忘筌 (Dé yú wàng quán)


Guard against disgrace in times of favor; be prepared for danger in times of safety.
得宠思辱,安居思危 (Dé chǒng sī rǔ, ān jū sī wēi)


Don’t hit one on the face.
打人不打脸 (Dǎ rén bù dǎ liǎn)


Respect out of fear is never genuine; reverence out of respect is never false.
打怕的人是假的,敬怕的人是真的 (Dǎ pà de rén shì jiǎ de; jìng pà de rén shì zhēn de)


Have a mouth as sharp as a dagger but a heart as soft as tofu.
刀子嘴,豆腐心 (Dāozi zuǐ, dòufu xīn)


A mountain of knives and a sea of fire.
刀山火海 (Dāo shān huǒ hǎi)


Don’t mention the word „dwarf“ in front of a short person.
当着矮人别说矮话 (Dāng zhe ǎi rén bié shuō ǎi huà)


A spectator sees more than a player in the heat of a game.
当局者迷 (Dāng jú zhě mí)


Make a decision when a decision is called for. Hesitation only brings disaster.
当断不断,反受其乱 (Dāng duàn bù duàn, fǎn shòu qí luàn)


Fish a needle in the sea.
大海捞针 (Dà hǎi láo zhēn)


Beat the grass and alert the snake.
打草惊蛇 (Dǎ cǎo jīng ché)


An offender sues the victim first.
恶人先告状 (èrén xiān gàozhuàng)


Give it to the Yangtze that rambles east to the sea.
付诸东流 (Fù zhū dōng liú)


Wade through boiling water and scorching flame.
赴汤蹈火 (Fù tāng dǎo huǒ)


Water spilled can never be retrieved.
覆水难收 (Fù shuǐ nán shōu)


Remove firewood from under a pot.
釜底抽薪 (Fǔ dǐ chōu xīn)


Phoenix feather and unicorn horns.
凤毛麟角 (Fèng máo lín jiǎo)


Burn a forest to farm and drain a pond to fish.
焚林而畋,竭泽而渔 (Fén lín ěr tián, jié zé ěr yú)


On the same boat in a tempest.
风雨同舟 (Fēng yǔ tóng zhōu)


In face of evil, one would rather be a jade broken than a brick intact.
逢奸宁可玉碎,气正不求瓦全 (Féng jiān nìng kě yù suì, qì zhèng bù qiú wǎ quán)


To be like neither a donkey nor a horse.
非驴非马 (Fēi lǘ fēi mǎ)


A flying moth throws itself into a fire.
飞蛾投火 (Fēi é tóu huǒ)


Conjure up clouds with one turn of one’s hand and rain with another.
翻云覆雨 (Fān yún fù yǔ)


One palm makes no applause.
孤掌难鸣 (Gū zhǎng nán míng)


Look at a leopard through a pipe.
管中窥豹 (Guǎn zhōng kuì bào)


Dismantle the bridge after crossing it.
过河拆桥 (Guò hé chāi qiáo)


How can you expect to find ivory in a dog’s mouth?
狗嘴里吐不出象牙 (Gǒu zuǐlǐ tǔ bù chū xiàngyá)


A mouse catching dog steps on the cats’ paws (toes).
狗拿耗子—多管闲事 (Gǒu ná hàozi—duō guǎn xiánshì)


A fierce dog ruins a liquor store business.
狗猛酒酸 (Gǒu měng jiǔ suān)


A dog will jump over a wall when cornered.
狗急跳墙 (Gǒu jí tiào qiáng)


A dog won’t forsake his master because of his poverty; a son never deserts his mother for her homely appearance
狗不嫌家贫,儿不嫌母丑 (Gǒu bū xián jiā pín, ér bū xián mǔ chǒu)


A weir close to completion left undone due to the shortage of a basket of earth.
功亏一篑 (Gōng kuī yī kuì)


Scratching an itch from outside the boot.
隔靴搔痒 (Gé xuē sāo yǎng)


There are always ears on the other side of the wall.
隔墙有耳 (Gé qiáng yǒu ěr)


Flowers look different in different eyes.
各花入各眼 (Gè huā rù gè yǎn)


Watch the fire burn on the other side of the river.
隔岸观火 (Gé àn guān huǒ)


Pouring water from above the roof of a tall building.
高屋建瓴 (Gāo wū jiàn líng)


You can’t expect both ends of a sugar cane are as sweet.
甘蔗没有两头甜 (Gānzhe méiyǒu liǎng tóu tián)


When the head rope of a net is pulled up, all the meshes open.
纲举目张 (Gāng jǔ mù zhāng)


With the liver and bowel broken into inches.
肝肠寸断 (Gān cháng cùn duàn)


A tiger’s head and a snake’s tail.
虎头蛇尾 (Hǔ tóu shé wěi)


A good fortune may forebode a bad luck, which may in turn disguise a good fortune.
祸兮福所依,福兮祸所依 (Huò xī fú suǒ yī, fú xī huò suǒ yī)


Add oil to a flame.
火上浇油 (Huǒ shàng jiāo yóu)


Disasters never come alone.
祸不单行 (Huò bù dān xíng)


Fish in muddled water.
混水摸鱼 (Hún shuǐ mō yú)


Swallow a date with its stone.
囫囵吞枣 (Hú lún tūn zǎo)


Survive the Jaw of a Tiger.
虎口余生 (Hǔ kǒu yú shēng)


To pull a tooth from a tiger’s mouth.
虎口拔牙 (Hǔ kǒu bá yá)


A fox borrows the tiger’s might.
狐假虎威 (Hǔ jiǎ hǔ wēi)


Deadly as she can be, a tigress will never eat her own cubs.
虎毒不食子 (Hǔ dú bù shí zǐ)


A fragrant bloom is not necessarily a beautiful flower; an orator may not be a crackerjack.
花香不一定美丽,能说不一定会做 (Huā xiāng bù yīdìng měilì, néng shuō bù yīdìng huì zuò)


Add legs to the snake one has just painted.
画蛇添足 (Huà shé tiān zú)


A yellow weasel victimizes a sick duck.
黄鼠狼单咬病鸭子 (Huángshǔláng dān yǎo bìng yāzi)


Fill in the eyes to a painted dragon.
画龙点睛 (Huà lóng diǎn jīng)


Pluck flowers as they bloom; wait and you’ll have only the twigs.
花开堪折只需折,莫待无花空折枝 (Huā kāi kān zhé zhǐ xū zhé, mò dài wú huā kōng zhé zhī)


Draw a cake to satisfy one’s hunger.
画饼充饥 (Huà bǐng chōng jī)


Walk sidewise and block the way.
横行霸道 (Héng xíng bà dào)


A crane standing amidst a flock of chickens.
鹤立鸡群; Chinese Pin yin (Hè lì jī qún)


An ambitious horse will never return to its old stable.
好马不吃回头草 (Hǎo mǎ bù chī huítóu cǎo)


A resourceful man knows to avoid a disadvantageous situation close at hand.
好汉不吃眼前亏 (Hǎohàn bù chī yǎnqiánkuī)


Shoot at a shadow with sand.
含沙射影 (Hán shā shè yǐng)


Learning how the Handan residents walk.
邯郸学步 (Hán dān xué bù)


Never harbor the intent to victimize others; but never let your guard down against being victimized.
害人之心不可有,防人之心不可无 (Hài rén zhī xīn bù kě yǒu, fáng rén zhī xīn bù kě wú)


Crashing live fish to death before selling them.
活鱼摔死卖 (Huó yú shuāi sǐ mài)


Fish swim in vast sea as freely as birds fly in boundless sky.
海阔凭鱼跃,天高任鸟飞 (Hǎi kuò píng yú yuè, tiān gāo rèn niǎo fēi.


Fearing laws makes one happy every day; withholding truth from heaven worries one all the time.
惧法天天乐,欺天日日忧 (Jù fǎ tiān tiān lè, qī tiān rì rì yōu)


Fragments of fox fur, sewn together, will make a robe.
集腋成裘 (Jí yè chéng qiú)


It doesn’t matter if your tavern sits in a remote location so long as the smell of your wine is appealing.
酒香不怕巷子深 (Jiǔ xiāng bù pà xiàngzi shēn)


Help the needy instead of the poor.
救急不救穷 (Jiù jí bù jiù qióng)


Drinking with a bosom friend, a thousand shots are too few; Talking with a disagreeable person, half a sentence is too many.
酒逢知己千杯少,话不投机半句多 (Jiǔ féng zhījǐ qiān bēi shǎo, huà bù tóujī bàn jù duō)


Don’t do unto others as you wouldn’t have them do unto you.
己所不欲勿施于人 (Jiǔ féng zhījǐ qiān bēi shǎo, huà bù tóujī bàn jù duō)


He who stays near vermilion gets stained red; he who stays near ink gets stained black.
近朱者赤,近墨者黑 (Jìn zhū zhě chì, jìn mò zhě hēi)


Living at a river, one comes to know the nature of the fish therein; Dwelling by a mountain, one learns to recognize the language of the birds thereupon.
近水知鱼性,近山识鸟音 (Jìn shuǐ zhī yú xìng, jìn shān shí niǎo yīn)


Add a flower to a bouquet.
锦上添花 (Jǐn shàng tiān huā)


A frog in a well shaft
井底之蛙 (Jǐng dǐ zhī wā)


Present Buddha with borrowed flowers.
借花献佛 (Jiè huā xiàn fó)


Please restrain your grief and adapt to the mishap.
节哀顺变 (Jié āi shùn biàn)


An overcrowded chicken farm produce fewer eggs.
鸡多不下蛋,人多打瞎乱 (Jī duō bù xià dàn, rén duō dǎ xiā luàn)


Regular feet can’t be affected by irregular shoes.
脚正不怕鞋(邪)歪 (Jiǎo zhèng bù pà xié wāi)


A sly rabbit has three burrows.
狡兔三窟 (Jiǎo tù sān kū)


A friend made is a road paved; an enemy created is a wall built.
交个朋友多条路,树个敌人多堵墙 (Jiāo gè péngyou duō tiáo lù, shù gè dírén duō dǔ qiáng)


Pick up a sesame seed only to lose a watermelon.
捡了芝麻丢了西瓜 (Jiǎn le zhīmá, diū le xīguā)


Aged ginger is more pungent.
姜是老的辣 (Jiāng shì lǎo de là)


Harmony makes both a family and a nation prosperous.
家和日子旺,国和万事兴 (Jiā hé rìzi wàng; guó hé wàn shì xīng)


A honeyed mouth hides a daggered heart.
口蜜腹剑 (Kǒu mì fù jiàn)


Neither seen in the past nor in the future.
空前绝后 (Kōng qián jué hòu)


Marking a Boat to Seek One’s Sword.
刻舟求剑 (Kè zhōu qiú jiàn)


Any book you open will benefit your mind.
开卷有益 (Kāi juàn yǒu yì)


Steer one’s boat where the winds lead.
看风使舵 (Kàn fēng shǐ duò)


Donkey’s lips do not fit in with a horse’s mouth.
驴唇不对马嘴 (Lǘchún bù duì mǎzuǐ)


Fallen leaves return to the root.
落叶归根 (Luò yè guī gèn)


Throw a rock in a well to finish someone drowning in it.
落井下石 (Luò jǐng xià shí)


A dish of carrot hastily cooked may still has uncleaned soil on the vegetable.
萝卜快了不洗泥 (Luóbo kuài le bù xǐ ní)


Some prefer carrot while others like cabbage.
萝卜白菜,各有所爱 (Luóbo báicài, gè yǒu suǒ ài)


A dragon will be teased by a shrimp in a shoal water; a tiger will be bullied by a dog on a treeless plain.
龙游浅水遭虾戏,虎落平阳被犬欺 (Lóng yóu qiǎn shuǐ zāo xiā xì, hǔ luò píngyáng bèi quǎn qī)


Flowing water never goes bad; door hubs never gather termites.
流水不腐,户枢不蠹 (Liú shuǐ bù fǔ, hùshū bù dù)


So long as the green mountains are preserved, there will be no shortage of firewood supply.
留得青山在,不怕没柴烧 (Liú dé qīng shān zài, bù pà méi chái shāo)


It is better to start weaving your fishing nets than merely coveting fish at the water.
临渊慕鱼, 不如退而结网 (Lín yuān mù yú, bù rú tuì ěr jié wǎng)


Have one’s ears pierced only before the wedding ceremony starts.
临上轿现扎耳朵眼儿 (Lín shàngjiào xiàn zhā ěrduo yǎnr)


Begin to dig a well only when one feels thirsty.
临渴掘井 (Lín kě jué jǐng)


The wound caused by a sword can eventually be healed; the hurt resulted from vicious remarks can never be undone.
利剑伤人犹可愈,恶语伤人恨难消 (Lìjiàn shāng rén yóu kě yù, èyǔ shāng rén hèn nán xiāo)


Thunder is louder than the little rain warrants.
雷声大,雨点小 (Léi shēng dà, yǔ diǎn xiǎo)


An aged steed confined to the stable still aspires after the glory of galloping a thousand miles.
老骥伏枥,志在千里 (Lǎo jì fú lì, zhì zài qiān lǐ)


A tiger never returns to his prey he did not finish off.
老虎不吃回头食 (Lǎohǔ bù chī huítóushí)


Pass oneself off as one of the Yu pipe players in an ensemble.
滥竽充数 (Làn yú chōng shù)


Trees have already been made into a boat.
木已成舟 (Mù yǐ chéng zhōu)


Rice is already cooked.
生米煮成饭 (Shēng mǐ zhǔ chéng fàn)


Honing your hatchet will not delay your effort of wood cutting.
磨刀不误砍柴工 (Mó dāo bú wù kǎn chái gōng)


It is easy to dodge a spear that comes in front of you but hard to avoid an arrow shot from behind.
明枪易躲,暗箭难防 (Míng qiāng yì duǒ, àn jiàn nán fáng)


If people no longer fears death, how can you threaten to kill them?
民不畏死,奈何以死惧之 (Mín bù wèi sǐ, nàihé yǐ sǐ jù zhī?)


There’s no insurmountable Mount of Flames.
没有过不去的火焰山 (Méiyǒu guò bù qù de huǒyànshān)


Like ants gnawing at a bone.
蚂蚁啃骨头 (Mǎyǐ kěn gǔtou)


A horse cannot gain weight if not fed with extra fodder during the night; a man cannot become wealthy without earnings apart from his regular salaries.
马无夜草不肥,人无外快不富 (Mǎ wú yè cǎo bù féi, rén wú wàikuài bù fù)


Return the purchased jewelry but keep its casket.
买椟还珠 (Mǎi dú huán zhū)


Fighting a wolf with a flex stalk either side is afraid of the other.
麻杆打狼—两头怕 (Mágǎn dǎ láng—liǎngtóu pà)


It is too late for a galloping horse to stop at a clip; it is useless for a sinking boat to be mended in the middle of a river.
马到悬崖收缰晚,船到江心补漏迟 (Mǎ dào xuányá shōu jiāng wǎn, chuán dào jiāngxīn bǔ lòu chí)


The son may be calous to his mother’s hardship, but the mother always cares every bit of his pains.
母苦儿未见,儿劳母不安 (Mǔ kǔ ér wèi jiàn, ér láo mǔ bù ān)


A hat wearing macaque
沐猴而冠 (Mù hóu ér guàn)


Clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.
没做亏心事,不怕鬼叫门 (Méi zuò kuīxīn shì, bù pà guǐ jiào mén)


Insist on venturing into the mountain knowing well that it’s the haunt of tigers.
明知山有虎,偏向虎山行 (Míngzhī shān yǒu hǔ, piān xiàng hǔshān xíng)


A clay figure fears rain; a lie fears truth.
泥人怕雨,谎言怕理 (Nírén pà yǔ, huǎngyán pà lǐ)


A clay idol of bodhisattva fording a river can hardly save itself, let alone anyone else.
泥菩萨过河—自身难保 (Ní púsà guò hé—zìshēn nán bǎo)


Would rather be a chicken’s head than a phoenix’s tail.
宁做鸡头,不当凤尾 (Nìng zuò jītóu, bù dāng fèngwěi)


Would rather be betrayed by others than betraying them.
宁可负我,切莫负人 (Nìngkě fù wǒ, qiè mò fù rén)


The lotus root may be severed, but its fibered threads are still connected.
藕断丝连 (Oǔ duàn sī lián)


Smash the pots and sink the boats.
破釜沉舟 (Pò fǔ chén zhōu)


When you are poor, you will have no visitors even if you live in a crowded city; once you become rich, you’ll be surprised by visitors from alleged relatives even if you live in a remote location.
贫居闹市无人问,富居深山有远亲 (Pín jū nàoshì wú rén wèn, fù jū shēnshān yǒu yuǎnqīn)


A drop of sweat spent in a drill is a drop of blood saved in a battle.
平时多流汗,战时少流血 (Píngshí duō liú hàn, zhànshí shǎo liú xiě)


Cast out a brick to invite jade.
抛砖引玉 (Pāo zhuān yǐn yù)


Learn from other’s strong points to offset one’s shortcomings.
取长补短 (Qǔ cháng bǔ duǎn)


Looking for a donkey on its very back.
骑驴找驴 (Qí lǘ zhǎo lǘ)


Once on a tiger’s back, you’ll find it hard to get off.
骑虎难下 (Qí hǔ nán xià)


Even the cleverest housewife cannot cook rice without rice.
巧妇难为无米之炊 (Qiǎofù nán wéi wú mǐ zhī chuī)


A donkey has limited abilities.
黔驴技穷 (Qián lǘ jì qióng)


A long march starts from the very first step.
千里之行始于足下 (Qiān lǐ zhī xíng shǐ yú zú xià)


An ant may well destroy an entire dam.
千里之堤溃于蚁穴 (Qiān lǐ zhī dī, kuì yú yǐxué)


A smile woth a thousand ounces of gold.
千金买笑 (Qiān jīn mǎi xiào)


A melon forced off its vine is not sweet.
强扭的瓜不甜 (Qiáng niǔ de guā bù tián)


Asking yourself for help is better than asking others.
求人不如求己 (Qiú rén bù rú qiú jǐ)


A carriage that overturned ahead can be a lesson for those to follow.
前车之鉴 (Qián chē zhī jiàn)


A man’s heart is indiscernible behind his chest.
人心隔肚皮 (Rén xīn gé dù pí)


A man’s greed is like a snake that wants to swallow an elephant.
人心不足蛇吞象 (Rén xīn bù zú shé tūn xiàng)


Void of a long term plan will bring you trouble soon.
人无远虑,必有近忧 (Rén wú yuǎn lǜ bì yǒu jìn yōu)


A person moves up while water runs down.
人往高处走,水往低处流 (Rén wǎng gāo chù zǒu, shuǐ wǎng dī chù liú)


The owner’s departure leaves the house vacant.
人去楼空 (Rén qù lóu kōng)


The evil is dreaded by men but not heaven; the kind hearted is cheated by mortals but not God.
人恶人怕天不怕,人善人欺天不欺 (Rén è rén pà tiān bù pà, rén shàn rén qī tiān bù qī)


A person cannot be judged by his appearance in the same token as the sea cannot be measured with a bucket.
人不可貌相,海水不可斗量 (Rén bù kě mào xiàng; hǎishuǐ bù kě dǒu liáng)


Treating a dead horse as if it’s still alive.
死马当活马医 (Sǐ mǎ dāng huó mǎ yī)


The trees want to remain quiet, but the wind will not stop.
树欲静而风不止 (Shù yù jìng ěr fēng bù zhǐ)


Diligence is the vehicle on the paths of Mountains of Books; endurance is the vessel on the courses of the Seas of Learning.
书山有路勤为经,学海无涯苦为舟 (Shūshān yǒu lù qín wéi jìng, xuéhǎi wú yá kǔ zuò zhōu)


A mouse’s vision is an inch long.
鼠目寸光 (Shǔ mù cùn guāng)


Fish for the moon in the water.
水中捞月 (Shuǐ zhōng lāo yuè)


Fish cannot survive in absolutely clear water.
水至清则无鱼 (Shuǐ zhìqīng zé wú yú)


Water can float a boat and sink it as well.
水能载舟,亦能覆舟 (Shuǐ néng zài zhōu, yì néng fù zhōu)


Once a tree falls, the monkeys on it will scatter.
树倒猢狲散 (Shù dǎo húsūn sàn)


Give one fish and he’s fed for only a day. Teach one how to fish and he’ll be free from hunger all his life.
授人以鱼只解一时之急,授人以渔 则解一生之需 (Shòu rén yǐ yú zhǐ jiù yī shí zhī jí, shòu rén yǐ yú zé jiě yī shēng zhī xū)


Scholars are invaluable to a nation as the best course to a banquet.
士者国中宝,如为席上珍 (Shìzhě guó zhōng bǎo, rú wéi xí shàng zhēn)


It takes ten years for a tree to grow up, but it takes a hundred for talents to be nurtured.
十年树木,百年树人 (Shí nián shù mù, bǎi nián shù rén)


Ten years of oblivion in school may bring you fame overnight.
十年寒窗无人问,一举成名天下知 (Shí nián hánchuāng wú rén wèn, yī jǔ chéng míng tiānxià zhī)


Your fingers can’t be of the same length.
十个指头不一般齐 (Shí gè zhǐtou bù yī bān qǐ)


A life with love is happy; a life for love is foolish.
生活有爱幸福,为爱生活愚蠢 (Shēnghuó yǒu ài xìngfú, wèi ài shēnghuó yúchǔn)


Rice is already cooked.
生米煮成饭 (Shēng mǐ zhǔ chéng fàn)


Kill one to warn a hundred.
杀一儆百 (Shā yī jǐng bǎi)


If you do not study hard when young you’ll end up bewailing your failures as you grow up.
少小不努力,老大徒伤悲 (Shào xiǎo bù nǔlì, lǎo dà tú shāngbēi)


The wind sweeping through the tower heralds a rising storm in the mountain.
山雨欲来风满楼 (Shānǚ yù lái fēng mǎn lóu)


The gate of charity is hard to open nor close; a guest is easy to invite but hard to turn away.
善门难开,善门难闭 (Shàn mén nán kāi, shàn mén nán bì)


Good will be rewarded with good and evil with evil; it is only a matter of time.
善恶到头终有报,只等来早与来迟 (Shàn è dào tóu zhōng yǒu bào, zhǐ děng lái zǎo yù lái chí)


Kill a hen to get the egg.
杀鸡取卵 (Shā jī qǔ lǚan)


Kill a chicken before a monkey.
杀鸡给猴看 (Shā jī gěi hóu kàn)


Of all the thirty six stratagems, to know when to quit is the best.
三十六计走为上策 (Sān shí liù jì, zǒu wéi shàng cè)


Three humble shoemakers brainstorming make a great statesman.
三个臭皮匠,凑个诸葛亮 (Sān gè chòu píjiàng, còu gè Zhūgě Liàng)


You think you lost your horse? Who knows, he may bring a whole herd back to you someday.
塞翁失马,安知非福 (Sài wēng shī mǎ, ān zhī fēi fú)


The body of a starved camel is still bigger than a living horse.
瘦死的骆驼比马大 (Shòu sǐ de luòtuo bǐ mǎ dà)


A flea on the top of a bald head it is only too apparent.
秃子头上的虱子—明摆着的事 (Tūzi tóu shàng de shīzi míngbǎi zhe de shì)


Even a rabbit may bite when cornered.
兔子急了也咬人 (Tùzi jí le yě yǎo rén)


Rabbits do not eat the grass around their burrows.
兔子不吃窝边草 (Tùzi bù chī wō biān cǎo)


A Fox grieves over the death of a rabbit.
兔死狐悲 (Tù sǐ hú bēi)


An unfolded map reveals a dagger.
图穷匕见 (Tú qióng bì xiàn)


Steal beams and replace them with poles.
偷梁换柱 (Tōu liáng huàn zhù)


Fail to steal a chicken, which instead ate up your bait.
偷鸡不成反蚀一把米 (Tōu jī bùchéng fǎn shī yī bǎ mǐ)


Dream different dreams on the same bed.
同床异梦 (Tóng chuáng yì mèng)


Perseverance can reduce an iron rod to a sewing needle.
铁杵磨成针 (Tiěchǔ mó chéng zhēn)


Crows everywhere are equally black.
天下乌鸦一般黑 (Tiānxià wūyā yībān hēi)


No banquet in the world that never ends.
天下没有不散的宴席 (Tiānxià méiyǒu bù sàn de yànxí)


You looked high and low till your iron shoes were worn out but still to no avail. Then you chanced upon it without ever looking.
踏破铁鞋无觅处,得来全不费功夫 (Tà pò tiěxié wú mì chù, délái quán bù fèi gōngfu)


A mantis stalking a cicada is unaware of an oriole behind.
螳螂捕蝉,黄雀在后 (Tángláng bǔ chán, huángquè zài hòu)


Fifty steps laugh at a hundred steps.
五十步笑一百步 (Wǔ shí bù xiào yī bǎi bù)


If you’ve done nothing wrong, you shouldn’t worry about devils knocking at your door in midnight.
无事不怕鬼叫门 (Wú shì bù pà guǐ jiào mén)


One never comes to pray in the Temple of Three Treasures if he is not in trouble.
无事不登三宝殿 (Wú shì bū dēng sānbǎodiàn)


Things will develop in the opposite direction when they become extreme.
物极必反 (Wù jí bì fǎn)


No wind, no waves.
无风不起浪 (Wú fēng bù qǐ làng)


Ruthlessness is key to a man’s accomplishment.
无毒不丈夫 (Wú dú bù zhàngfu)


He who plays with fire will get himself burned.
玩火自焚 (Wán huǒ zì fén)


Mend the pen only after the sheep are all gone.
亡羊补牢 (Wáng yáng bǔ láo)


Visiting monks give better sermons.
外来的和尚好念经 (Wài lái de héshang hǎo niànjīng)


Reshape one’s feet to fit into new shoes.
削足适履 (Xuē zú shì lǚ)


Add frost to snow.
雪上加霜 (Xuě shàng jiā shuāng)


Send charcoal in a snow storm.
雪里送炭 (Xuě lǐ sòng tàn)


It takes three years to learn to be a man of integrity; it only takes three days to degrade.
学好三年,学坏三天 (Xué hǎo sān nián, xué huài sān tiān)


Rein in a horse at the edge of a cliff.
悬崖勒马 (Xuán yá lè mǎ)


The flower of heart is in full bloom.
心花怒放 (Xīn huā nù fàng)


Sail when there is favorable wind; strike it when the iron is hot.
行船趁顺风, 打铁趁红火 (Xíngchuán chèn shùnfēng; dǎtiě chèn hónghuǒ)


Butcher the donkey after it finished his job on the mill.
卸磨杀驴 (Xiè mò shā lǘ)


A hearty laugh makes you ten years younger.
笑一笑十年少 (Xiào yī xiào, shí nián shào)


A dagger can be concealed in a smile.
笑里藏刀 (Xiào lǐ cáng dāo)


Carry out an execution before seeking the decree.
先斩后奏 (Xiān zhǎn hòu zòu)


A speck on a jade stone won’t obscure its radiance.
瑕不掩瑜 (Xiá bù yǎn yù)


Be considerable to others and you will be treated likewise.
与人方便,自己方便 (Yù rén fāngbiàn, zìjǐ fāngbiàn)


To enjoy a grander sight, climb to a greater height.
欲穷千里目,更上一层楼 (Yù qióng qiān lǐ mù, gèng shàng yī céng lóu)


Pass off a fish eye for a pearl.
鱼目混珠 (Yú mù hùn zhū)


Like bamboo shoots after rain.
雨后春笋 (Yǔ hòu chūn sǔn)


The more you try to cover things up, the more exposed they will be.
欲盖弥彰 (Yù gài mí zhāng)


A jade stone is useless before it is processed; a man is good for nothing until he is educated.
玉不琢不成器,人不教难成才 (Yù bù zhuó bù chéng qì, rén bù jiào nán chéng cái)


As a snipe and a clam are entangled in a fight, a fisherman catch them both.
鹬蚌相争,渔翁得利 (Yù bàng xiāng zhēng, yúwēng dé lì)


Distant water won’t help to put out a fire close at hand.
远水救不了近火 (Yuǎn shuǐ jiù bù liǎo jìn huǒ)


Distant water won’t quench your immediate thirst.
远水解不了近渴 (Yuǎn shuǐ jiě bù liǎo jìn kě)


To catch fish on a tree.
缘木求鱼 (Yuán mù qiú yú)


A flower you plant may not necessarily bloom; but the seed of a tree you happen to drop may grow into a forest.
有意栽花花不开,无意插柳柳成荫 (Yǒu yì zāi huā huā bù kāi, wú yì chā liǔ liǔ chéng yīn)


Don’t suspect someone you employ, but if one is suspicious, don’t employ him.
用人不疑,疑人不用 (Yòng rén bù yí, yí rén bù yòng)


One bee makes no honey; one grain makes no rice soup.
一只蜂酿不成蜜,一颗米熬不成粥 (Yī zhī fēng niàng bù chéng mì; yī kē mǐ áo bù chéng zhōu)


One justice can overpower a hundred evils.
一正压百邪 (Yī zhèng yā bǎi xié)


When good fortune finally comes, no one can ever stop it.
一朝时运至,半点不由人 (Yī zhāo shí yùn zhì, bàn diǎn bù yóu rén)


A base person often thinks of a man of honor as mean as himself.
以小人之心度君子之腹 (Yǐ xiǎorén zhī xīn dù jūnzǐ zhī fù)


One failure leads to another; so does success.
一损俱损,一荣俱荣 (Yī sǔn jù sǔn, yī róng jù róng)


Fruits of the same tree have different tastes; children of the same mother have various qualities.
一树之果有酸有甜,一母之子有愚有贤 (Yī shù zhī guǒ yǒu suān yǒu tián, yī mǔ zhī zǐ yǒu yú yǒu xián)


Force tells weak from strong for a moment; truth tells right from wrong all the time.
一时强弱在于力,万古胜负在于理 (Yīshí qiángruò zàiyú lì, wàngǔ shèngfù zàiyú lǐ)


One thing well done is a hundred done; one thing that fails dooms the rest.
一事精百事精,一无成白无成 (Yī shì jīng, bǎi shì jīng, yī wú chěng, bǎi wú chéng)


A man of honor will feel ashamed by a single question to which he does not know the answer.
一事不知,君子知耻 (Yī shì bù zhī, jūnzǐ zhī chǐ)


One dog snarls at a shadow; a hundred howl at each others barking.
一犬吠影,白犬吠声 (Yī quǎn fèi yǐng, bǎi quǎn fèi shēng)


One cannot refuse to eat just because there is a chance of being choked.
因噎废食 (Yīn yè fèi shí)


A year’s harvest counts on spring; a man’s success counts on his diligence.
一年之际在于春,一生之际在于勤 (Yī nián zhī jì zài yú chūn, yī shēng zhī jì zài yú qín)


Once bitten by a snake, one is scared all his life at the mere sight of a rope.
一年遭蛇咬,十年怕井绳 (Yī nián zāo shé yǎo, shí nián pà jǐngshéng)


Hit a stone with an egg.
以卵击石 (Yǐ luǎn tóu shí)


The dragon has nine sons, each different from the others.
一龙生九种, 种种不同 (Yī lóng shēng jiǔ zhǒng, zhǒng zhǒng bù tóng)


It is impossible to add much weight with a single morsel; it is hard to travel afar with a single step.
一口吃不成胖子,一步跨不到天边 (Yī kǒu chī bū chéng pàngzi, yī bù kuà bù dào tiānbiān)


Kill two vultures with one arrow.
一箭双雕 (Yī jiàn shuāng diāo)


A single merit cannot make a hundred demerits fade; a hundred merits cannot hide a single demerit.
一好遮不了百丑,百好遮不了一丑 (Yì hǎo zhē bù liǎo bǎi chǒu; bǎi hǎo zhē bù liǎo yī chǒu)


One monk shoulders water by himself; two can still share the labor between them. When it comes to three, they have to go thirsty.
一个和尚挑水喝,两个和尚抬水喝,三个和尚没水喝 (Yī gè héshang tiāo shuǐ hē, liǎng gè héshang tái shuǐ hē, sān ge héshang méi shuǐ hē)


Fight poison with poison.
以毒攻毒 (Yǐ dú gōng dú)


An inch of time is an inch of gold, but an inch of time cannot be purchased for an inch of gold.
一寸光阴一寸金,寸金难买寸光阴 (Yī cùn guāngyīn yī cùn jīn, cùn jīn nán mǎi cùn guāngyīn)


Each sovereign keeps a team of his own men.
一朝天子一朝臣 (Yī cháo tiānzǐ yī cháo chén)


Each law suit is a fire; you can’t avoid its burning flame.
一场官司一场火,人你好汉没处躲 (Yī chǎng guānsi yī chǎng huǒ, rèn nǐ hǎohàn méi chù duǒ)


Approach heaven with a single stride.
一步登天 (Yī bù dēng tiān)


Lord Ye’s professed love of dragons turned into his worst fear.
叶公好龙 (Yè gōng hào lóng)


The longer the night lasts, the more dreams we’ll have.
夜长梦多 (Yè cháng mèng duō)


Todays beneficiary is the incarnation of his preexisting well doer; the fate of ones next existence lies in his existence today.
要知前世因, 今生受者是; 要知后世果,今生做者是 (Yào zhī qiánshì yīn, jīnshēng shòuzhě shì; yào zhī hòushì guǒ, jīnshēng zuòzhě shì)


Better not do anything that you don’t want others to know.
要想人不知除非己莫为 (Yào xiǎng rén bù zhī, chúfēi jǐ mò wéi)


Tears cannot put out a fire.
眼泪救不了火 (Yǎnlèi jiù bù liǎo huǒ)


Steal a bell with ears plugged.
掩耳盗铃 (Yǎn ěr dào líng)


It is impossible to add much weight with a single morsel; it is hard to travel afar with a single step.
一口吃不成胖子,一步跨不到天边 (Yì kǒu chī bū chéng pàngzǐ, yí bù kuà bú dào tiānbiān)


You won’t help the new plants grow by pulling them up higher.
揠苗助长 (Yà miáo zhù zhǎng)


To quench one’s thirst with poisoned wine.
饮鸠止渴 (Yǐn jiù zhǐ kě)


A conversation with a wise person is worth of ten years’ study of books.
与君一席谈,胜读十年书 (Yù jūn yī xí tán, shèng dú shí nián shū)


A man of determination will surely succeed.
有志者事竟成 (Yǒu zhì zhě shì jìng chéng)


A governor may commit arson while the governed are not allowed to light a lamp.
只许州官放火,不许百姓点灯 (Zhǐ xǔ zhōuguān fànghuǒ, bù xǔ bǎixìng diǎndīng)


Release a captured tiger back to its mountains.
纵虎归山 (Zòng hǔ guī shān)


Ones own meat dishes are not as delicious as others vegetarian ones.
自家的肉不香,人家的菜有味 (Zì jiā de ròu bù xiāng, rénjiá de cài yǒuwèi)


The father is responsible for his son’s conduct.
子不教父之过 (Zǐ bù jiào, fù zhī guò)


Trying to pull a garment together by the front only to tear it at the elbow.
捉襟见肘 (Zhuō jīn jiàn zhǒu)


Only when all contribute their firewood can they build up a strong fire.
众人拾柴火焰高 (Zhòngrén shí chái huǒyàn gāo)


Content breeds happiness.
知足者常乐 (Zhīzúzhě cháng lè)


One‘s son is clever while the neighbor is suspicious.
智子疑临 (Zhì zǐ yí lín)


Making a thousand decisions, even the wise will make a mistake.
智者千虑必有一失 (Zhìzhě qiān lǜ, bì yǒu yī shī)


Point at the mulberry and abuse the pagoda tree.
指桑骂槐 (Zhǐ sāng mà huái)


You will never lose a battle if you know your own situation as well as that of the enemy.
知彼知己,百战不殆 (Zhī jǐ zhí bǐ, bǎi zhàn bú dài)


Paper can’t wrap up a fire.
纸包不住火 (Zhǐ bāo bù zhù huǒ)


Put one person’s hat on another’s head.
张冠李戴 (Zhāng guān lǐ dài)


A thief cries „Stop thief!“
贼喊捉贼 (Zéi hǎn zhuō zéi)


Sit on a mountain to watch tigers fighting among themselves.
坐山观虎斗 (Zuò shān guān hǔ dòu)


Not to be attempted even if a beautiful woman sits on one’s laps.
坐怀不乱 (Zuò huái bù luàn)


A man of the Zheng State buys his shoes.
郑人买履 (Zhèng rén mǎi lǚ)


Not hearing is not as good as hearing, hearing is not as good as seeing, seeing is not as good as mentally knowing, mentally knowing is not as good as acting; true learning continues up to the point that action comes forth
不闻不若闻之,闻之不若见之,见之不若知之,知之不若行之;学至于行之而止矣 (Bù wén bù ruò wén zhī, wén zhī bù ruò jiàn zhī, jiàn zhī bù ruò zhīzhī, zhīzhī bù ruò xíng zhī; xué zhìyú xíng zhī ér zhǐ yǐ)


A small hole not mended in time will become a big hole much more difficult to mend.
小洞不补,大洞吃苦 (xiǎo dòng bù bǔ, dà dòng chī kǔ)


Intention of required study, the word worth a thousand gold.
读书须用意,一字值千金 (dú shū xū yòng yì, yī zì zhí qiān jīn)


The Changjiang River waves behind drive the waves ahead.
长江后浪推前浪 (Chángjiāng hòulàng tuī qiánlàng)


Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles.
读万卷书不如行万里路 (Dú wàn juǎn shū bùrú xíng wànlǐ lù)


Careful with others is a must have.
防人之心不可无 (Fáng rén zhī xīn bùkě wú)


When the wind of change blows, some build walls, while others build windmills.
风向转变时,有人筑墙,有人造风车 (Fēng xiàng zhuàn biàn shí, yǒu rén zhú qiáng, yǒu rén zào fēng chē)


Fortune does not come twice. Misfortune does not come alone.
福无重至,祸不单行 (Fú wú zhòng zhì, huòbùdānxíng)


Father’s debt, son to give back.
父债子还 (Fù zhài zǐ huán)


Do not harbour intentions to hurt others.
害人之心不可有 (ài rén zhī xīn bù kě yǒu)


Things of today, accomplished today.
今日事,今日毕 (Jīnrì shì, jīnrì bì)


If the wind comes from an empty cave, it’s not without a reason.
空穴来风,未必无因 (Kōngxuéláifēng, wèibì wú yīn)


Good medicine tastes bitter.
良药苦口 (Liángyào kǔkǒu)


Man’s schemes are inferior to those made by heaven.
人算不如天算 (Rén suàn bùrú tiān suàn)


To hit a dog with a meat-bun.
肉包子打狗 (Ròu bāozi dǎ gǒu)


Three monks have no water to drink.
死马当活马医 (Sǐ mǎ dāng huó mǎ yī)


Teach a man to take a fish is not equal to teach a man how to fish.
授人以鱼不如授人以渔 (Shòu rén yǐ yú bùrú shòu rén yǐ yú)


When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter.
树倒猢狲散 (Shù dǎo húsūn sàn)


Not only can water float a boat, it can sink it also.
水能载舟,亦能覆舟 (huǐ néng zài zhōu, yì néng fù zhōu)


Think three times before you move.
三思而后行 (Sān sī ér hòu xíng)


The sky is big and the emperor is far away.
天高皇帝远 (Tiān gāo huángdì yuǎn)


One bitten by a snake for a snap dreads a rope for a decade.
一朝被蛇咬,十年怕井绳 (Yī zhāo bèi shé yǎo, shí nián pà jǐng shéng)


Those who help themselves, God will help.
自助者天助 (Zìzhù zhě tiānzhù)


The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose
予人玫瑰,手留余香 (Yǔ rén méiguī, shǒu liú yú xiāng)


Encouraging Chinese proverbs


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
千里之行﹐始于足下 (Qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐ yú zú xià)


Failure is the mother of success.
失败是成功之母 (Shī bài shì chéng gōng zhī mǔ)


Making a thousand decisions, even the wise will make a mistake.
智者千虑必有一失 (Zhìzhě qiān lǜ, bì yǒu yī shī)


Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.
不闻不若闻之,闻之不若见之,见之不若知之,知之不若行之;学至于行之而止矣 (Bù wén bù ruò wén zhī, wén zhī bù ruò jiàn zhī, jiàn zhī bù ruò zhīzhī, zhīzhī bù ruò xíng zhī; xué zhìyú xíng zhī ér zhǐ yǐ)


One step at a time.
循序渐进 (Xún xù jiàn jìn


Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as travelling ten thousand miles.
读万卷书不如行万里路 (Dú wàn juǎn shū bùrú xíng wànlǐ lù)


Try to save the dead horse as if it is still alive.
死马当活马医 (Sǐ mǎ dāng huó mǎ yī)


Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.
师傅领进门,修行在个人 (Shī fu lǐng jìn mén, xiū xíng zài gè rén)


When we get to the mountain, there’ll be a way through.
车到山前必有路 (Chē dào shān qián bì yǒu lù)


Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.
学习是永远跟随主人的宝物 (Xuéxí shì yǒngyuǎn gēnsuí zhǔrén de bǎowù)


.