Lost in Translation

By the time you leave China, you might have picked up on quite a few useful Chinese words that sadly don’t have an English equivalent. This is fine if you’re surrounded by friends who are learning Chinese, however when you return home, you might find yourself in quite a pickle. Here are some useful Chinese words that are mixed in our everyday conversations.

Chinese word Description Use
麻烦

máfan

Troublesome, in the way, difficult “I have to redo my entire presentation”

“Ah that’s so mafan.”

duì

Yes, correct, that’s right “Is this the way to the school?”

“Duiduidui”

老外

lǎowài

Westerner in china “Have you been to this bar?”

“Yeah its a laowai hotspot”

天啊

tiān a

Oh my god, oh my heavens “Tian-a! Did she really say that?”
OK啊

ok a

Exclamation “Sorry about that”

“Its Okay-a”

舒服

shūfú

Comfortable, feels good, fits “This subway is so busy I’m not feeling very shufu”
差不多 chàbùduō Just about, around “Does it take 5 minutes to get there?”

“Yeah chabuduo”

厉害

lìhài

Smart, clever, good “Ah so lihai, you figured it out”
糟糕

zāogāo

Horrible, terrible, very bad “It’s been raining all week!”

“I know the weather is really zaogao”

zǎo

Early “Morning!”

“Mm Zao”

不好意思

bùhǎoyìsi

Sorry, embarrassed, not comfortable “I forgot about our date… so buhaoyisi”