There are hundred’s of 成语 but I don’t know which ones are actually used in current Chinese conversation. So I asked ChatGPT. I found it’s explanation of the difference between spoken and written very helpful. What do you think?
I would like to know the 10 most commonly used 成语in spoken Mandarin Chinese. Before you answer this question, I would like to know how you are going to research it. Where are you going to look?
To determine the 10 most commonly used 成语(chéngyǔ) in spoken Mandarin Chinese, I’ll rely on my pre-existing knowledge and experience as an AI language model trained on a diverse range of texts, including books, articles, websites, and other sources in Chinese. My training encompasses a broad understanding of Mandarin Chinese, including its idiomatic expressions and proverbs.
I should note that the popularity of 成语 can vary depending on the context, region, and generation, so there might not be a definitive list of the absolute most commonly used 成语. Nonetheless, I can provide you with a selection of widely known and frequently used ones.
I see. But is there a difference in the chengyu used in spoken and in written Chinese?
Yes, there is a difference between the chengyu (成语) commonly used in spoken Chinese and those used in written Chinese. Spoken Chinese tends to be more colloquial and informal, while written Chinese often adheres to a more formal and literary style.
In spoken Chinese, people often use chengyu that are concise, easily understood, and express a specific meaning in a vivid and succinct manner. These chengyu are commonly integrated into everyday conversations and reflect the dynamic nature of the language.
On the other hand, written Chinese, especially in formal contexts such as literature, news articles, or official documents, tends to employ a broader range of chengyu, including those that are more complex, classical, or metaphorical. Writers in these contexts often strive for a more elevated and expressive style, drawing on a rich reservoir of chengyu that have been passed down through generations.
It’s important to note that while some chengyu are commonly used in both spoken and written Chinese, there are also chengyu that are more specific to one form of expression or the other, depending on the linguistic register and cultural conventions associated with each context.
Thank you, this is very helpful information. Now, please let me know the 10 most commonly used chengyu in spoken Mandarin. Provide pinyin, English translation, explanation or story if required and 2 examples of each one in a complete sentence.
Certainly! Here are 10 commonly used chengyu in spoken Mandarin, along with their pinyin, English translation, brief explanation, and two examples for each:
- 一马当先 (yī mǎ dāng xiān) - Taking the lead Explanation: Refers to being the first or taking the initiative in a particular situation.
- 在比赛中，他一马当先，迅速抢到了第一名。 (In the competition, he took the lead and quickly grabbed the first place.)
- 在项目的推进中，我们应该一马当先，带领团队前进。 (In project implementation, we should take the lead and lead the team forward.)
- 知己知彼 (zhī jǐ zhī bǐ) - Know oneself and know one’s enemy Explanation: Emphasizes the importance of understanding both oneself and the opponent in order to achieve success.
- 谈判之前，我们必须对对方有充分了解，要做到知己知彼。 (Before negotiations, we must have a thorough understanding of the other party, to know oneself and know one’s enemy.)
- 在竞争激烈的市场中，了解竞争对手是取得成功的关键，知己知彼非常重要。 (In a fiercely competitive market, understanding the competitors is crucial for success. Knowing oneself and knowing one’s enemy is very important.)
- 不可思议 (bù kě sī yì) - Unbelievable Explanation: Indicates something that is difficult or impossible to believe or comprehend.
- 他的表演实在是太棒了，简直不可思议！ (His performance was incredible, simply unbelievable!)
- 我们遇到了一些不可思议的问题，完全无法解释。 (We encountered some unbelievable problems that are completely inexplicable.)
- 亡羊补牢 (wáng yáng bǔ láo) - Mend the pen after the sheep are lost Explanation: Suggests the idea of taking timely measures to remedy a situation after experiencing a loss or setback.
- 我们不能等到问题发生后才采取措施，必须亡羊补牢，事先做好准备。 (We can’t wait until the problem occurs to take action. We must mend the pen after the sheep are lost and be prepared in advance.)
- 昨天的失利让我们吸取了教训，现在必须亡羊补牢，确保再次不会犯同样的错误。 (Yesterday’s defeat taught us a lesson. Now we must mend the pen after the sheep are lost to ensure we won’t make the same mistake again.)
- 力不从心 (lì bù cóng xīn) - One’s ability falls short of one’s wishes Explanation: Describes a situation where one’s capabilities or efforts are insufficient to meet one’s desires or goals.
- 我想要帮你，可惜力不从心，我做不到。 (I want to help you but unfortunately, my abilities fall short, and I can’t do it.)
- 我希望能在一天内完成这项任务，但力不从心，需要更多时间。 (I hope to complete this task within a day, but my abilities fall short, and I need more time.)
- 画蛇添足 (huà shé tiān zú) - Drawing legs on a snake Explanation: Refers to unnecessary or superfluous actions that complicate a situation instead of improving it.
- 不要给我提建议，我自己能完成这个任务，你只是画蛇添足。 (Don’t give me suggestions; I can handle this task on my own. You’re just drawing legs on a snake.)
- 我们应该避免在项目中画蛇添足，只做有意义和必要的事情。 (We should avoid drawing legs on a snake in the project and only focus on meaningful and necessary tasks.)
- 一举两得 (yī jǔ liǎng dé) - Kill two birds with one stone Explanation: Describes achieving two goals or solving two problems with a single action.
- 帮助他们提高销售业绩既能促进公司利润增长，也能培养员工的能力，一举两得。 (Helping them improve their sales performance can both contribute to the company’s profit growth and develop employees’ skills. It’s killing two birds with one stone.)
- 选择一个环保的交通方式可以减少污染，同时也有助于个人健康，一举两得。 (Choosing an environmentally friendly mode of transportation can reduce pollution and also contribute to personal health. It’s killing two birds with one stone.)
- 名副其实 (míng fù qí shí) - Live up to one’s reputation Explanation: Describes someone or something that truly embodies or lives up to their reputation or title.
- 他在音乐界的声誉很高，他的演奏完全名副其实。 (He has a high reputation in the music industry, and his performance truly lives up to it.)
- 这家餐馆的美食口碑很好，品尝后发现确实名副其实。 (This restaurant has a great reputation for its cuisine, and after tasting it, I found it truly lives up to it.)
- 纸上谈兵 (zhǐ shàng tán bīng) - Discussing military strategy on paper Explanation: Criticizes someone who discusses theories or strategies without practical experience or knowledge.
- 他从没实际操作过，只是纸上谈兵，不具备实际经验。 (He has never had actual hands-on experience; he just discusses theories on paper and lacks practical experience.)
- 只有真正实践过，才能知道理论与实际之间的差距，否则只是纸上谈兵。 (Only by actually practicing can one understand the gap between theory and reality; otherwise, it’s just discussing military strategy on paper.)
- 水落石出 (shuǐ luò shí chū) - The water recedes, and the rocks emerge Explanation: Describes a situation where the truth or facts become clear and evident over time.
- 事情经过调查后，真相水落石出，一切都清楚了。 (After the investigation, the truth became clear, and everything was evident.)
- 这个问题会随着时间的推移水落石出，我们只需耐心等待。 (This issue will become clear over time; we just need to be patient and wait.)