Chinese Proverbs

Below you will find our collection of inspirational, wise, and humorous old Chinese quotes, Chinese sayings, and Chinese proverbs, collected over the years from a variety of sources.

♦    ♦    ♦

Chinese Proverbs

A pure heart has few desires.

Listening well is as powerful as talking well, and is also as essential to true conversation.

Cheat your conscience, and a whole life’s happiness is destroyed.

Close to a blacksmith, learn to hammer out nails; close to a carpenter, learn how to use a saw.

The melon seller does not announce, “Bitter melons.”

Solve one problem, and you keep a hundred others away.

Some study shows the need for more.

It is easier to visit friends than to live with them.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

In a group of many words, there is bound to be a mistake.

When economy goes south, people get political.

The people sitting in the free theatre seats are the first ones to boo.

To know another is not to know that person’s face, but to know that person’s heart.

He who has never been cheated cannot be a good businessman.

Of all female qualities, a warm heart is the most valuable.

All things change, and we change with them.

Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.

Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.

Married couples tell each other a thousand things without speech.

A bad workman blames his tools.

A book holds a house of gold.

Chinese Proverbs

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark.

A clever person turns great troubles into little ones and little ones into none at all.

A crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind.

A diamond with a flaw is worth more than a pebble without imperfections.

A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials.

A man’s conversation is the mirror of his thoughts.

A nation’s treasure is in its scholars.

A person who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the man doing it.

A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion.

Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.

Black cat or white cat: If it can catch mice, it’s a good cat.

Dig the well before you are thirsty.

Everyone eats and drinks; yet only few appreciate the taste of food.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Give me liberty, or give me death!

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

He who depends on himself will attain the greatest happiness.

I’d rather die for speaking out, than to live and be silent.

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

If you don’t want anyone to know, don’t do it.

Let’s put our heads together for the benefit of all.

Never hesitate to ask a lesser person.

Past scholars studied to improve themselves; Today’s scholars study to impress others.

Raise your sail one foot and you get ten feet of wind.

Rise and fall of a nation rests with every one of its citizens.

Seeing it once is better than being told 100 times.

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.

What you do not wish upon yourself, extend not to others.

When you drink the water, remember the spring.

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.

A crisis is an opportunity riding the dangerous wind.

It’s better to be without a book than to believe a book entirely.

A little impatience will spoil great plans.

If you bow at all, bow low.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

A smile will gain you ten more years of life.

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.

A book holds a house of gold.

Talk does not cook rice.

A man who cannot tolerate small misfortunes can never accomplish great things.

Experience is a comb which nature gives us when we are bald.

Behave toward everyone as if receiving a guest.

A fall into a ditch makes you wiser.

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without one.

An inch of time is an inch of gold but you can’t buy that inch of time with an inch of gold.

A closed mind is like a closed book; just a block of wood

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

A needle is not sharp at both ends.

Even a hare will bite when it is cornered.

Habits are cobwebs at first; cables at last.

In a group of many words, there is bound to be a mistake somewhere in them.

Govern a family as you would cook a small fish – very gently.

Patience is a bitter plant, but its fruit is sweet.

Two good talkers are not worth one good listener.

A hundred no’s are less agonizing than one insincere yes.

He who cheats the earth will be cheated by the earth.

Only one who can swallow an insult is a man.

Chinese Proverbs

One beam, no matter how big, cannot support an entire house on its own.

Better the cottage where one is merry than the palace where one weeps.

Distant water does not put out a nearby fire.

The more acquaintances you have, the less you know them.

He who thinks too much about every step he takes will always stay on one leg.

All things change, and we change with them.

If you want to find out about the road ahead, then ask about it from those coming back.

Genius can be recognized by its childish simplicity.

There are two kinds of perfect people: those who are dead, and those who have not been born yet.

A clear conscience never fears midnight knocking.

Learning is a weightless treasure you can always carry easily.

Want a thing long enough and you don’t.

Small men think they are small; great men never know they are great.

Do everything at the right time, and one day will seem like three.

Solve one problem, and you keep a hundred others away.

It is easy to open a store – the hard part is keeping it open.

To be totally at leisure for one day is to be immortal for one day.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

Ripe fruit falls by itself – but it doesn’t fall in your mouth.

If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

Before preparing to improve the world, first look around your own home three times.

I was angered, for I had no shoes. Then I met a man who had no feet.

Men trip not on mountains they trip on molehills.

Do not want others to know what you have done? Better not have done it anyways.

A man without a smiling face must not open shop.

It is not the knowing that is difficult, but the doing.

A wise man makes his own decisions, but an ignorant man mindlessly follows the crowd.

The people who talk the best are not the only ones who can tell you the most interesting things.

Do not believe that you will reach your destination without leaving the shore.

If you want to avoid being cheated, ask for prices at three different stores.

After you is good manners. 

A child’s life is like a piece of paper on which every person leaves a mark. 

A gem is not polished without rubbing, nor a man perfected without trials. 

A single conversation with a wise man is worth a month’s study of books. 

Be not disturbed at being misunderstood; be disturbed rather at not being understanding.

Do not afraid of moving slowly. Be afraid of standing still. 

Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime.

He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.

If you must play, decide upon three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.

If your mind is strong, all difficult things will become easy. If your mind is weak, all easy things will become difficult.

love at first sight. It’s generally used for people, but you can also use it for other physical objects.

Opportunity knocks at the door only once.

Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involves me and I’ll understand.

A good book is a good friend. 

A straight foot is not afraid of a crooked shoe.

Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.

Giving your son a skill is better than giving him one thousand pieces of gold. 

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember. I do and I understand.

If you plan for one year, plant rice. If you plan for ten years, plant trees, If you  plan for 100 years, educate mankind.

If your strength is small, don’t carry heavy burdens. If your words are worthless, don’t give advice. 

Love is not about possession, it’s all about appreciation.

Outside noisy, inside empty.

Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.

The person who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

To believe in one’s dreams is to spend all of one’s life asleep. 

When you say one thing, the clever person understands three. 

A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers. 

A filthy mouth will not utter decent language. 

A journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step. 

A wise man makes his own decisions. An ignorant man follows public opinion. 

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. 

Do not impose others what yourself do not desire. 

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever. 

If you stand straight, do not fear a crooked shadow. 

Insanity is doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different outcome. 

Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come. 

Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes. 

The best fighter is never angry. 

The person who says something is impossible should not interrupt the person who is doing it. 

To forget one’s ancestor’s is to be a brook without a source, a tree without root. 

With true friends… even water drunk together is sweet enough. 

A book holds a house of gold. 

 A fool judges people by the presents they give him.

A man should choose a friend who is better than himself. There are plenty of acquaintances in the world; but very few real friends. 

All things are difficult before they are easy.

Coming events cast their shadows before them.

Don’t fear the enemy that attacks you, but the fake friend that hugs you.

If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people. 

If you survived a storm, you won’t be bothered by the rain.

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.

One generation plants the trees, and another gets the shade.

Silence is a source of great strength.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.

The temptation to quit will be greatest just before you are about to succeed.

To talk much and arrive nowhere is the same as climbing a tree to catch a fish. 

Your teacher can open the door, but you must enter by yourself.

A book is like a garden carried in the pocket. 

A friend to everybody is a friend to nobody.

If heaven made him, earth can find some use for him.

He who is foolish finds disaster.

Do not employ handsome servants.

Those who do not read are no better off than those who cannot.

Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.

Make happy those who are near, and those who are far will come.

Climb mountains to see lowlands.

If you must play, decide on three things at the start: the rules of the game, the stakes, and the quitting time.

The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.

If you are planning for a year, sow rice if you are planning for a decade, plant trees if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.

He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.

A filthy mouth will not utter decent language.

With true friends…even water drunk together is sweet enough.

I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.

With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

Chinese Proverbs

To know and know that you know, not to know and know that you don’t know, that is to know.

A fool judges people by the presents they give him.

Those who have free seats at a play hiss first.

Do not remove a fly from your friend’s forehead with a hatchet.

If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.

Man who say it cannot be done should not interrupt man doing it.

Take a second look… It costs you nothing.

A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.

Unless we change direction, we are likely to wind up where we are headed.

Deal with the faults of others as gently as with your own.

A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom.

Be the first to the field and the last to the couch.

A bit of fragrance clings to the hand that gives flowers.

Do good, reap good; do evil, reap evil.

Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for the rest of his life.

If you want 1 year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.

The palest ink is better than the best memory.

The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right names.

If there is light in the soul, There will be beauty in the person. If there is beauty in the person, There will be harmony in the house. If there is harmony in the house, There will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, There will be peace in the world.

If you see in your wine the reflection of a person not in your range of vision, don’t drink it.

Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still.

Deep doubts, deep wisdom; small doubts, little wisdom.

One dog barks at something, the rest bark at him.

A book tightly shut is but a block of paper.

A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.

There are two perfect men one dead, and the other unborn.

Use power to curb power.

A closed mind is like a closed book just a block of wood.

Each generation will reap what the former generation has sown.

Logic takes you from A to B, but imagination takes you everywhere.

An inch of time cannot be bought with an inch of gold.

The man who comes with a tale about others has himself an ax to grind.

To believe in one’s dreams is to spend all of one’s life asleep.

He who hurries can not walk with dignity.

Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve.

To attract good fortune, spend a new coin on an old friend, share an old pleasure with a new friend, and lift up the heart of a true friend by writing his name on the wings of a dragon.

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.

After three days without reading, talk becomes flavorless.

Judge not the horse by his saddle.

He who is drowned is not troubled by the rain.

A thousand cups of wine do not suffice when true friends meet, but half a sentence is too much when there is no meeting of minds.

If you stand straight Do not fear a crooked shadow.

Do not fear going forward slowly; fear only to stand still.

If you are rich, you speak the truth if you are poor, your words are but lies.

When you want to test the depths of a stream, don’t use both feet.

If you always give You will always have.

Chinese Proverbs

Never do anything standing that you can do sitting, or anything sitting that you can do lying down.

There is many a good man to be found under a shabby hat.

Behind an able man there are always other able men.

If you get up one more time than you fall you will make it through.

Never write a letter while you are angry.

Happiness is like a sunbeam, which the least shadow intercepts, while adversity is often as the rain of spring.

In reviling, it is not necessary to prepare a preliminary draft.

Enough shovels of earth ……………………..a mountain. Enough pails of water ………………………….a river.

He who cannot agree with his enemies is controlled by them.

I dreamed a thousand new paths. . . I woke and walked my old one.

If you suspect a man, don’t employ him, and if you employ him, don’t suspect him.

Limitations are but boundaries in our minds.

Listen to all, plucking a feather from every passing goose, but, follow no one absolutely.

One happiness scatters a thousand sorrows.

One should be just as careful in choosing one’s pleasures as in avoiding calamities.

Practice no vice because it’s trivial… Neglect no virtue because it’s so.

Sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, all must be tasted.

The gem cannot be polished without friction, not a man perfected without trials.

The man who does not learn is dark, like one walking in the night.

A man who chases two rabbits catches neither.

Distance tests a horse’s strength. Time reveals a person’s character.

Failure is not falling down but refusing to get up.

He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.

If you don’t want anyone to know it, don’t do it

If you want happiness for an hour — take a nap. If you want happiness for a day — go fishing. If you want happiness for a month — get married. If you want happiness for a year — inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime — help someone else.

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

Opportunities don’t just happen, you create them.

Teachers open the door but you must walk through it yourself.

The glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.

There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same. 

When anger arises, think of the consequences.

A clever person turns great troubles into little ones, and little ones into none at all.

The person who is his own master cannot tolerate another boss.

Guessing is cheap, but guessing wrong can be expensive.

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.

A bird can roost but on one branch, a mouse can drink not more than its fill from a river.

A person of high principles is one who can watch an entire chess game without making a comment.

To know another is not to know the person’s face, but to know the person’s heart.

No matter how tall the mountain is, it cannot block the sun.

Tenacity and adversity are old foes.

Think about your own faults during the first half of the night, and the faults of others during the second half.

If you want your children to have a peaceful life, let them suffer a little hunger and a little coldness.

The journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

Time is money, and it is difficult for one to use money to get time.

When the winds of change blows, some people build walls and others build windmills. 

A diamond with a flaw is better than a common stone that is perfect.

Chinese Proverbs

People doing the same things might have different motives.

To make a man of yourself you must toil.

In the midst of great joy, do not promise to give a man anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer a man’s letter.

Take merit and [use it to] mend sin.

The evil sea [i.e. the world] is vast. Turn the head [i.e. repent] and you are at the shore.

Quickly do works of repentance, and you will be upon the conscious shore. Butchers drop your knives, and become Buddhas as a result.

To believe in tao is easy; to keep tao is difficult.

If for one day one does not meditate upon goodness, all [kinds of] wickedness will spring up of themselves.

He vainly lived among people; to no purpose he walked across the plain

There is a road to Paradise, but you choose not to go. There is no door to Hell, and yet you force your way to woe. [Used of one unwilling do right]

Why so anxiously and busily manage so many evil matters? Drop them all and become a good man.

Embrace every chance of laying up merit, and your daily wants will be regularly supplied.

He who stores up evil, although still living, is dead; he who stores up goodness, although dead, is still living.

Show compassion to others’ misfortunes, and rejoice in their excellences.

The door of good works is difficult to open—but when opened, it is difficult to close.

Doing good gives the greatest happiness; study gives the greatest good.

If the mirror is highly polished, the dust will not stain it; if the heart is enlightened, evil desires will not arise in it.

Putting aside virtuous deeds and not doing them—this may be styled “self-robbery.”

Entire sincerity moves spiritual beings.

If your fate is not propitious, you should nevertheless cultivate virtue. The sleeping dragon will some day ascend to Heaven. [If your time of fortune has not come, cultivate virtue and wait for your time of fortune].

The chun tzu conquers himself; the hsiao jen is envious and overbearing.

An hour may destroy the work of a hundred years.

Nowadays, people are shortsighted—they regard the outward appearance as important, but not the virtue.

Tao does not act in vain.

As tao raises a foot, the demon raises ten. [Where truth/tao is prominent, persecution arises.]

If you wrangle over things of little importance, then you lose the great tao.

Nobody should neglect to cultivate secret virtues.

The gods are in his skill.

When you believe in them [kuei and shen], they exist. When you do not believe in them, they do not exist.

Worship the gods as if they were present; if you don’t worship them, they are but pieces of mud.

Before the thought has arisen, the gods know it.

Man reasons in a thousand ways; the spirits only in [the right] one.

How can a tiger or leopard [i.e. a superior person] put up with the insults of a dog or sheep [i.e. a lesser person]?

If you ask for directions rudely, you might end up many miles from your destination.

Listen to all, pluck a feather from every passing goose, but follow no one absolutely.

Better to be without a book than to believe a book entirely.

To do evil is to transgress the laws of Heaven.

Let people despise me [as they like]—but if Heaven does not spurn me, then loss is gain.

Set yourself as the standard.

Let us fulfill our own parts, and await the will of Heaven.

The hearts of the people are the only legitimate foundations of the Empire.

Have but few friends, though much acquaintance.

When you converse, let it be with the wise; when you give food, let it be to the hungry.

Man combs his hair every morning. Why not his heart?

One man spreads a false report, and a hundred report it as truth.

Some people want to be praised for the rest of their lives for what they did well for one day.

Great truths cannot penetrate rustic ears.

You can’t talk of the ocean to a well-frog.

If a girl seems as shy as a mouse, you still have to look out for the tiger within her.

A wise man adapts himself to circumstances as water shapes itself according to the vessel that contains it.

Whoever undertakes a task cannot repudiate the responsibility.

Near vermilion one gets stained pink; near ink one gets stained black.
Near putrid fish you’ll stink; near the epidendrum you’ll be fragrant.
[One takes the color and odor of one’s company.]

Heaven and Earth will not be angry with one who will correct his faults.

One sincere thought can influence Heaven and Earth.

You may deceive people. You cannot deceive Heaven.

Let each one go his own tao.

The error of one moment becomes the sorrow of a whole life.

He who waits for a roast duck to fly in his mouth must wait a very long time.

A hobbling cat is better than a fast horse when rats swarm the palace.

Heaven knows and Earth knows—how can I alone know?

Heaven, having let me be born as a man, requires me to follow its doctrines.

The smallest desire to do good is—though not seen by man—certainly known to Heaven.

It is for me to put forth the utmost effort; it rests with Heaven to give success to my plans.

If your principles are not good, you sin against Heaven and Earth; if your words and actions are good, you leave an example for sons and grandsons.

It is after a hundred battles that heroes are produced.

[Even] with half of the Lun Yu [put into use], the country can be [well] ruled.

If one plants in the springtime, one will harvest in the fall.

He prayed for rain and received fire instead.

A good heart influences Heaven and Earth.

Arrogance costs a fortune.

With a helmsman [i.e. leader] that is not nervous, the passengers [i.e. followers] [will feel] secure.

A hundred foot bamboo can progress yet another step.

Don’t go thirty miles to sell firewood, or three hundred miles to purchase grain.

If you don’t scale the mountain, you can’t view the plain.

All language is not in books, nor all thoughts in language.

He who has seen little is astonished at much.

If a man keeps his mouth shut, his words become proverbial.

The way to close the mouth of a slanderer is to treat him with contempt.

Great profits, great risks.

Who is the greatest liar? Who talks most of himself.

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.

Joy is not a horse. You cannot harness it.

Easy to open a shop, hard to keep it open.

A man who cannot tolerate small misfortunes can never accomplish great things.

If you want your children to have a peaceful life, let them suffer a little hunger and a little coldness.

Ripe fruit falls by itself, but it doesn’t fall in your mouth.

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life.

Tenacity and adversity are old foes.

Before preparing to improve the world, first look around your own home three times.

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.

Do not do all you can, do not spend all that you have, do not believe all that you hear, and do not tell all that you know.

Do not tear down the east wall to repair the west wall.

If you are standing upright, don’t worry if your shadow is crooked.

If you want an audience, start a fight.

Heaven has a road, but no one travels it; Hell has no gate, but people bore into it.

If there were no gods or demons in the world, man would do all kinds of things [Without the fear of the gods, man would be uncontrollable]

An accidental meeting is more pleasant than a planned one.

The swiftest horse can’t overtake a word once spoken

Before telling secrets on the road, look in the bushes

A bad word whispered echoes a hundred miles

In a flood of words, surely some mistakes

A sharp tongue or pen can kill without a knife

If the first words fail, ten thousand will then not avail

Watching chess games in silence. . .a superior person

The judge with seven reasons states only one in court

If you want no one to know, don’t do it

If you want your dinner, don’t insult the cook

Honest scales and full measure hurt no one

Divide an orange–it tastes just as good

If you always give you will always have

Better lean and good than fat and evil

To build it took one hundred years; to destroy it one day

To know the road ahead, ask those returning

Touch black paint, have black fingers

To succeed, consult three old people

If you hurry through long days, you will hurry through short years

The ripest fruit falls by itself

Simple to open a shop; another thing to keep it open

What you don’t see, you don’t desire

Neither fortunes nor flowers last forever

An inch of gold can’t buy an inch of time

Don’t waste your hour–the sun sets soon

My life–a candle in the wind. . . frost on the leaves

Nurture the plant one year–ten days of flowers

Slow work–fine work

At birth we bring our nothing; at death we leave with the same

A king’s riches cannot buy an extra year

Beat the drum inside the house to spare the neighbors

Climb the mountains to see lowlands

Laws control a lesser person; right conduct controls a greater one

Forget the favors given; remember those received

A careful foot can step anywhere

Stare at the profit and step in the pitfall

In bed be wife and husband, in the hall each other’s honored guest

To stop drinking, study a drunkard while you are sober

If Heaven made someone, earth can find some use for them

Without sorrows no one becomes a saint

The pine stays green in winter. . . wisdom in hardship

Three feet of ice were not frozen in a day

With virtue you can’t be completely poor; without it you can’t be truly rich

Determination tempers the sword of your character

Stout men, not stout walls, make the stout city

To be heard afar, bang your gong on a hilltop

Great doubts, deep wisdom. . . small doubts, little wisdom

To know others, know yourself first

His virtues exceed his talents–a superior man

When the waters drop, the rocks appear

O eggs, don’t fight with rocks

Easier to rule a nation than a child

To have principles first have courage

Blame yourself as you blame others; forgive others as you forgive yourself

The wise listens to her mind, the foolish to the mob

A whitewashed crow soon shows black again

Watch over workers at their labors, not their meals

Many a good face under a ragged hat

Dogs have no prejudice against the poor

Tile tossed over the wall. . . who knows where it will fall?

No horse can wear two saddles

While you are bargaining, conceal your coin

No guests at home, no hosts abroad

“I heard” is good; “I saw” is better

We can study until old age. . . and still not finish

A good teacher. . . better than a barrowful of books

Teachers open the door; you enter by yourself

People doing the same things might have different motives. – Chinese Proverbs

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. – Chinese Proverbs

To make a man of yourself you must toil. – Chinese Proverbs

In the midst of great joy, do not promise to give a man anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer a man’s letter. – Chinese Proverbs

Take merit and [use it to] mend sin. – Chinese Proverbs

The evil sea [i.e. the world] is vast. Turn the head [i.e. repent] and you are at the shore. – Chinese Proverbs

Quickly do works of repentance, and you will be upon the conscious shore. Butchers drop your knives, and become Buddhas as a result. – Chinese Proverbs

To believe in tao is easy; to keep tao is difficult. – Chinese Proverbs

If for one day one does not meditate upon goodness, all [kinds of] wickedness will spring up of themselves. – Chinese Proverbs

He vainly lived among people; to no purpose he walked across the plain. – Chinese Proverbs

A pure heart has few desires. – Chinese Proverbs

There is a road to Paradise, but you choose not to go. There is no door to Hell, and yet you force your way to woe. [Used of one unwilling do right] – Chinese Proverbs

Why so anxiously and busily manage so many evil matters? Drop them all and become a good man. – Chinese Proverbs

Embrace every chance of laying up merit, and your daily wants will be regularly supplied. – Chinese Proverbs

He who stores up evil, although still living, is dead; he who stores up goodness, although dead, is still living. – Chinese Proverbs

Show compassion to others’ misfortunes, and rejoice in their excellences. – Chinese Proverbs

The door of good works is difficult to open—but when opened, it is difficult to close. – Chinese Proverbs

Doing good gives the greatest happiness; study gives the greatest good. – Chinese Proverbs

If the mirror is highly polished, the dust will not stain it; if the heart is enlightened, evil desires will not arise in it. – Chinese Proverbs

Putting aside virtuous deeds and not doing them—this may be styled “self-robbery.” – Chinese Proverbs

Entire sincerity moves spiritual beings. – Chinese Proverbs

If your fate is not propitious, you should nevertheless cultivate virtue. The sleeping dragon will some day ascend to Heaven. [If your time of fortune has not come, cultivate virtue and wait for your time of fortune]. – Chinese Proverbs

The chun tzu conquers himself; the hsiao jen is envious and overbearing. – Chinese Proverbs

An hour may destroy the work of a hundred years. – Chinese Proverbs

Nowadays, people are shortsighted—they regard the outward appearance as important, but not the virtue. – Chinese Proverbs

Tao can be delicate or strong, soft or hard, yin or yang, obscure or clear. It can wrap up Heaven and Earth. It is sufficient for all things.- Chinese Proverbs

Tao does not act in vain. – Chinese Proverbs

As tao raises a foot, the demon raises ten. [Where truth/tao is prominent, persecution arises.] – Chinese Proverbs

If you wrangle over things of little importance, then you lose the great tao. – Chinese Proverbs

Nobody should neglect to cultivate secret virtues. – Chinese Proverbs

The gods are in his skill. – Chinese Proverbs

When you believe in them [kuei and shen], they exist. When you do not believe in them, they do not exist. – Chinese Proverbs

Worship the gods as if they were present; if you don’t worship them, they are but pieces of mud. – Chinese Proverbs

Before the thought has arisen, the gods know it. – Chinese Proverbs

Man reasons in a thousand ways; the spirits only in [the right] one. – Chinese Proverbs

How can a tiger or leopard [i.e. a superior person] put up with the insults of a dog or sheep [i.e. a lesser person]? – Chinese Proverbs

Listening well is as powerful as talking well, and is also as essential to true conversation. – Chinese Proverbs

Do not believe that you will reach your destination without leaving the shore. – Chinese Proverbs

If you ask for directions rudely, you might end up many miles from your destination. – Chinese Proverbs

Listen to all, pluck a feather from every passing goose, but follow no one absolutely. – Chinese Proverbs

Better to be without a book than to believe a book entirely. – Chinese Proverbs

Cheat your conscience, and a whole life’s happiness is destroyed. – Chinese Proverbs

To do evil is to transgress the laws of Heaven. – Chinese Proverbs

Let people despise me [as they like]—but if Heaven does not spurn me, then loss is gain. – Chinese Proverbs

Set yourself as the standard. – Chinese Proverbs

Let us fulfill our own parts, and await the will of Heaven. – Chinese Proverbs

The hearts of the people are the only legitimate foundations of the Empire. – Chinese Proverbs

Have but few friends, though much acquaintance. – Chinese Proverbs

Close to a blacksmith, learn to hammer out nails; close to a carpenter, learn how to use a saw. – Chinese Proverbs

When you converse, let it be with the wise; when you give food, let it be to the hungry. – Chinese Proverbs

Man combs his hair every morning. Why not his heart? – Chinese Proverbs

One man spreads a false report, and a hundred report it as truth. – Chinese Proverbs

Some people want to be praised for the rest of their lives for what they did well for one day. – Chinese Proverbs

Great truths cannot penetrate rustic ears. – Chinese Proverbs

You can’t talk of the ocean to a well-frog. – Chinese Proverbs

The melon seller does not announce, “Bitter melons.” – Chinese Proverbs

Solve one problem, and you keep a hundred others away. – Chinese Proverbs

If you want to avoid being cheated, ask for prices at three different stores. – Chinese Proverbs

If a girl seems as shy as a mouse, you still have to look out for the tiger within her. – Chinese Proverbs

To be totally at leisure for one day is to be immortal for one day. – Chinese Proverbs

Some study shows the need for more. – Chinese Proverbs

A wise man adapts himself to circumstances as water shapes itself according to the vessel that contains it. – Chinese Proverbs

Whoever undertakes a task cannot repudiate the responsibility. – Chinese Proverbs

Near vermilion one gets stained pink; near ink one gets stained black. – Chinese Proverbs

Near putrid fish you’ll stink; near the epidendrum you’ll be fragrant. – Chinese Proverbs, [One takes the color and odor of one’s company.]

Heaven and Earth will not be angry with one who will correct his faults. – Chinese Proverbs

One sincere thought can influence Heaven and Earth. – Chinese Proverbs

You may deceive people. You cannot deceive Heaven. – Chinese Proverbs

Let each one go his own tao. – Chinese Proverbs

The error of one moment becomes the sorrow of a whole life. – Chinese Proverbs

He who waits for a roast duck to fly in his mouth must wait a very long time. – Chinese Proverbs

It is easier to visit friends than to live with them. – Chinese Proverbs

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today. – Chinese Proverbs

A hobbling cat is better than a fast horse when rats swarm the palace. – Chinese Proverbs

In a group of many words, there is bound to be a mistake. – Chinese Proverbs

Heaven knows and Earth knows—how can I alone know? – Chinese Proverbs

Heaven, having let me be born as a man, requires me to follow its doctrines. – Chinese Proverbs

The smallest desire to do good is—though not seen by man—certainly known to Heaven. – Chinese Proverbs

It is for me to put forth the utmost effort; it rests with Heaven to give success to my plans. – Chinese Proverbs

If your principles are not good, you sin against Heaven and Earth; if your words and actions are good, you leave an example for sons and grandsons. – Chinese Proverbs

It is after a hundred battles that heroes are produced. – Chinese Proverbs

[Even] with half of the Lun Yu [put into use], the country can be [well] ruled. – Chinese Proverbs

If one plants in the springtime, one will harvest in the fall. – Chinese Proverbs

He prayed for rain and received fire instead. – Chinese Proverbs

A good heart influences Heaven and Earth. – Chinese Proverbs

Arrogance costs a fortune. – Chinese Proverbs

With a helmsman [i.e. leader] that is not nervous, the passengers [i.e. followers] [will feel] secure. – Chinese Proverbs

A hundred foot bamboo can progress yet another step. – Chinese Proverbs

Don’t go thirty miles to sell firewood, or three hundred miles to purchase grain. – Chinese Proverbs

If you don’t scale the mountain, you can’t view the plain. – Chinese Proverbs

All language is not in books, nor all thoughts in language. – Chinese Proverbs

He who has seen little is astonished at much. – Chinese Proverbs

If a man keeps his mouth shut, his words become proverbial. – Chinese Proverbs

The way to close the mouth of a slanderer is to treat him with contempt. – Chinese Proverbs

Great profits, great risks. – Chinese Proverbs

Who is the greatest liar? Who talks most of himself. – Chinese Proverbs

A man without a smiling face must not open a shop. – Chinese Proverbs

Joy is not a horse. You cannot harness it. – Chinese Proverbs

When economy goes south, people get political. – Chinese Proverbs

If you want to find out about the road ahead, then ask about it from those coming back. – Chinese Proverbs

Easy to open a shop, hard to keep it open. – Chinese Proverbs

There are two kinds of perfect people: those who are dead, and those who have not been born yet. – Chinese Proverbs

A man who cannot tolerate small misfortunes can never accomplish great things. – Chinese Proverbs

If you want your children to have a peaceful life, let them suffer a little hunger and a little coldness. – Chinese Proverbs

One beam, no matter how big, cannot support an entire house on its own. – Chinese Proverbs

The people who talk the best are not the only ones who can tell you the most interesting things. – Chinese Proverbs

The people sitting in the free theatre seats are the first ones to boo. – Chinese Proverbs

Ripe fruit falls by itself, but it doesn’t fall in your mouth. – Chinese Proverbs

To know another is not to know that person’s face, but to know that person’s heart. – Chinese Proverbs

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever. – Chinese Proverbs

Better the cottage where one is merry than the palace where one weeps. – Chinese Proverbs

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life. – Chinese Proverbs

He who has never been cheated cannot be a good businessman. – Chinese Proverbs

He who thinks too much about every step he takes will always stay on one leg. – Chinese Proverbs

Tenacity and adversity are old foes. – Chinese Proverbs

Of all female qualities, a warm heart is the most valuable. – Chinese Proverbs

Before preparing to improve the world, first look around your own home three times. – Chinese Proverbs

All things change, and we change with them. – Chinese Proverbs

Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself. – Chinese Proverbs

The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it. – Chinese Proverbs

Do not do all you can, do not spend all that you have, do not believe all that you hear, and do not tell all that you know. – Chinese Proverb

Do not tear down the east wall to repair the west wall. – Chinese Proverbs

If you are standing upright, don’t worry if your shadow is crooked. – Chinese Proverbs

If you want an audience, start a fight. – Chinese Proverbs

Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength. – Chinese Proverbs

Learning is a weightless treasure you can always carry easily. – Chinese Proverbs

Married couples tell each other a thousand things without speech. – Chinese Proverbs

Heaven has a road, but no one travels it; Hell has no gate, but people bore into it. – Chinese Proverbs

If there were no gods or demons in the world, man would do all kinds of things. – Chinese Proverbs, [Without the fear of the gods, man would be uncontrollable]

An accidental meeting is more pleasant than a planned one. – Chinese Proverbs

‘Tis foolish to seek/want credit for your ancestor’s achievements. – Chinese Proverbs

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. – Chinese Proverbs

He who could foresee affairs three days in advance would be rich for thousands of years. – Chinese Proverbs

A courtyard common to all will be swept by none. – Chinese Proverbs

A rumor goes in one ear and out many mouths. – Chinese Proverbs

A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion. – Chinese Proverbs

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness. – Chinese Proverbs

Climb mountains to see lowlands. – Chinese Proverbs

Deal with the faults of others as gently as with your own. – Chinese Proverbs

Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend’s forehead. – Chinese Proverbs

Everyone pushes a falling fence. – Chinese Proverbs

Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he’ll eat forever. – Chinese Proverbs

Going to law is losing a cow for the sake of a cat. – Chinese Proverbs

He who cannot agree with his enemies is controlled by them. – Chinese Proverbs

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come. – Chinese Proverbs

Laws control the lesser man. Right conduct controls the greater one. – Chinese Proverbs

Love your neighbors, but don’t pull down the fence. – Chinese Proverbs

Mankind fears an evil man but heaven does not. – Chinese Proverbs

May your every wish be granted. – Ancient Chinese Curse

Not the cry, but the flight of the wild duck, leads the flock to fly and follow. – Chinese Proverbs

Not wine…men intoxicate themselves; Not vice…men entice themselves. – Chinese Proverbs

One joy scatters a hundred griefs. – Chinese Proverbs

Public before private and country before family. – Chinese Proverbs

One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade. – Chinese Proverbs

The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher. – Chinese Proverbs

There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same. – Chinese Proverbs

Want a thing long enough and you don’t. – Chinese Proverbs

What you can not avoid, welcome. – Chinese Proverbs

When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world. – Chinese Proverbs

With money you are a dragon; with no money, a worm. – Chinese Proverbs

He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount. – Chinese Proverbs

If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people. – Chinese Proverbs

If you bow at all bow low. – Chinese Proverbs

If you wish to know the mind of a man, listen to his words. – Chinese Proverbs

A thorn defends the rose, harming only those who would steal the blossom. – Chinese Proverbs

Tension is who you think you should be, relaxation is who you are. – Chinese Proverbs

Heaven lent you a soul Earth will lend a grave. – Chinese Proverbs

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. – Chinese Proverbs

The man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out. – Chinese Proverbs

The palest ink is better than the best memory. – Chinese Proverbs

The pine stays green in winter…Wisdom in hardship. – Chinese Proverbs

The tongue like a sharp knife… Kills without drawing blood. – Chinese Proverbs

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. – Confucius

We should feel sorrow, but not sink under its oppression. – Confucius

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. – Confucius

If I am walking with two other men, each of them will serve as my teacher. I will pick out the good points of the one and imitate them, and the bad points of the other and correct them in myself. – Confucius

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. – Confucius

If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it’s OK. But you’ve got to shoot for something. A lot of people don’t even shoot. – Confucius

If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed; if in terms of ten years, plant trees; if in terms of 100 years, teach the people. – Confucius

Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success. Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. Always be on the lookout for ways to nurture your dream. – Lao Tzu

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tzu

Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment. – Lao Tzu

Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it. – Lao Tzu

Life is finite, while knowledge is infinite. – Zhuang Zi

Like Weather, one’s fortune may change by the evening. – Lueng Meng Zheng

Make My Home Everywhere within the Four Seas. The World Is My Home. – Xiao He

Proverbs

This is a collection of Chinese proverbs (諺語 yànyŭ) and idioms (成語 chéngyŭ), given in and sorted by their pinyin transcription. Chinese proverbs and four-plus character idioms are developed from the formulaic or social dialect/saying/expression (歇後語 in pinyin: xiēhòuyŭ) and historical story in Chinese.

Some proverbs are literary; that is, from a written source. Others originated among families, street vendors, and other commoners–all walks of life.

All proverbs/idioms are ordered by their pinyin transcription in the following order.

  1. First character
    1. Initial
    2. End
    3. Tone
    4. Radical strokes
    5. Total strokes
  2. Next character following the same procedure (if previous is the same)
  3. Least amount of character
  •  wén  ruò wén zhī, wén zhī  ruò jiàn zhī, jiàn zhī  ruò zhī zhī, zhī zhī  ruò xíng zhī; xué zhì  xíng zhī ér zhǐ 
    • Transliteration (pinyin): 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.
      • Traditional: 不聞不若聞之,聞之不若見之,見之不若知之,知之不若行之;學至於行之而止矣
      • Simplified: 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
    • From Xun Zi (荀子 8.儒效 23).
  • 小洞不补,大洞吃苦
    • Transliteration: xiǎo dòng bù bǔ, dà dòng chī kǔ
    • A small hole not mended in time will become a big hole much more difficult to mend.
      • Meaning: Fix something while it can be fixed. Don’t wait until it’s too late to do so.
    • “Destroy the seed of evil, or it will grow up to your ruin.”
    • Aesop, “The Swallow and the Other Birds” (c. 6th century BC)
    • 郭唯真,魏梅芗. 练习四年级 Tahun 4b. Pelangi Publishing Group Bhd. p. 52. ISBN 978-983-866-909-2. Retrieved on 9 June 2013.
  • 读书须用意,一字值千金
    • Transliteration: dú shū xū yòng yì, yī zì zhí qiān jīn
    • Intention of required study, the word worth a thousand gold.
      • Meaning: Study requires utmost attention and overlooking one thing can cost all credibility.
    • “When reading, don’t let a single word escape your attention; one word may be worth a thousand pieces of gold.”
    • Famous Chinese Sayings
    • 朱蓬蓬 Zhu Peng Peng. 闲言碎语荟萃(Collection of Miscellany). 朱蓬蓬(Zhu Peng Peng). p. 511. GGKEY:FB94KYJ98DR. Retrieved on 9 June 2013.
  • cháng jiāng hòu làng tuī qián làng
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Chángjiāng hòulàng tuī qiánlàng.
      • Traditional: 長江後浪推前浪
      • Simplified: 长江后浪推前浪
    • The Changjiang River waves behind drive the waves ahead.
      • Meaning: The energy of the new generation inspires the old.
    • 汉语成语俗语对照词典. 南京大学出版社. 2008. p. 162. ISBN 7305052116.
  •  wàn juǎn shū   xíng wàn  
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Dú wàn juǎn shū bùrú xíng wànlǐ lù.
      • Traditional: 讀萬卷書不如行萬裡路
      • Simplified: 读万卷书不如行万里路
    • Reading ten thousand books is not as useful as traveling ten thousand miles.
    • “”Travel makes a wise Man better, but a Fool worse.”
    • Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia (1792)
    • 2010國立臺灣大學藝文年鑑. 國立臺灣大學出版中心. p. 27. ISBN 9860288844.
  • fáng rén zhī xīn   
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Fáng rén zhī xīn bùkě wú.
      • Traditional: 防人之心不可無
      • Simplified: 防人之心不可无
    • Careful with others is a must have.
    • English equivalent: He that reckons without his host must reckon again.
    • “This proverb is usually applied to such persons, who are apt to be partial in one Affair, flattering themselves with the Advantages they fansy to be on their side, and making no Allowances for the Disadvantages that will or may attend them.”
      • Divers Proverbs with Their Explication & Illustration, Nathan Bailey, 1721
    • 俗语词典. 商务印书馆. 1994. p. 93.
  • fēng xiàng zhuàn biàn shíyǒu rén zhú qiángyǒu rén zào fēng chē
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Fēng xiàng zhuàn biàn shí, yǒu rén zhú qiáng, yǒu rén zào fēng chē.
      • Traditional: 風向轉變時,有人築牆,有人造風車
      • Simplified: 风向转变时,有人筑墙,有人造风车
    • When the wind of change blows, some build walls, while others build windmills.
      • Meaning: Some will shut out change but others will adapt it to their benefit.
    • English equivalent: When one door closes another opens.
    • “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
      • Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854), chapter 18, p. 427.
  • Friedman (2009). 世界又熱、又平、又擠: 全球暖化、能源耗竭、人口爆炸危機下的新經濟革命. 天下遠見出版股份有限公司.
  •   chóng zhìhuò  dān xíng
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Fú wú zhòng zhì, huòbùdānxíng.
      • Traditional: 福無重至,禍不單行
      • Simplified: 福无重至,祸不单行
    • Fortune does not come twice. Misfortune does not come alone.
      • Meaning: Good things will only come once. Bad things will always come in groups.
    • English equivalent: Misery loves company.
    • Meaning: Opportunities should not be taken for granted. A problem ignored is a problem doubled.
    • Farhoomand (2005). 香港中小企業管理與創新: 案例滙編. 香港大學出版社. p. 64. ISBN 1.
  •  zhài  huán
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Fù zhài zǐ huán.
      • Traditional: 父債子還
      • Simplified: 父债子还
    • Father’s debt, son to give back.
      • Meaning: The new generation can fix the mistakes made by previous ones.
    • “New generation can put right the mistakes of the old.”
    • “To do the opposite of something is also a form of imitation.”
      • Georg Lichtenberg, The Waste Books, R. J. Hollingdale trans. (2000), D96.
    • 把話說到心窩裡. 水雲齋文化事業有限公司. 2001. p. 154. ISBN 9579279551.
  • hài rén zhī xīn   yǒu
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Hài rén zhī xīn bù kě yǒu.
      • Traditional: 害人之心不可有
      • Simplified: 害人之心不可有
    • Do not harbour intentions to hurt others.
      • Note: This is usually used before 防人之心不可無 (see above)
    • A dream! What is a dream? And is not our life a dream? I will say more. Suppose that this paradise will never come to pass (that I understand), yet I shall go on preaching it. And yet how simple it is: in one day, in one hour everything could be arranged at once! The chief thing is to love others like yourself, that’s the chief thing, and that’s everything; nothing else is wanted — you will find out at once how to arrange it all. And yet it’s an old truth which has been told and retold a billion times — but it has not formed part of our lives! The consciousness of life is higher than life, the knowledge of the laws of happiness is higher than happiness — that is what one must contend against. And I shall. If only everyone wants it, it can be arranged at once.
    • Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man (1877), V.
  • 俗语词典 (dictionary). 商务印书馆 (The comercial press). 1994. p. 301.
    • English translation: Do not desire to hurt others in the depths of your heart.
  • jīn  shì, jīn  
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Jīnrì shì, jīnrì bì.
      • Traditional: 今日事,今日畢
      • Simplified: 今日事,今日毕
    • Things of today, accomplished today.
      • Meaning: Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be finished today.
    • Bahasa Cina. Pelangi Publishing Group Bhd. p. 26. ISBN 9833531105.
  • Jiŭ fā xīn fù zhī yán.
    • Wine makes words from secrets.
      • Meaning: Alcohol can make you or others say things they shouldn’t
    • English equivalent: In wine there is truth.
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 272. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
  • kōng xué lái fēng wèi   yīn
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Kōngxuéláifēng, wèibì wú yīn
      • Traditional: 空穴來風,未必無因
      • Simplified: 空穴来风,未必无因
    • English equivalent: Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
    • “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.”
    • “It is supposed that if there is a rumour, there must be some truth behind it.”
    • Paczolay, Gyula (1997). “1”. European proverbs: in 55 languages, with equivalents in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, Chinese and Japanese. Veszprémi Nyomda. p. 33. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
    • Marie Curie, As quoted in Our Precarious Habitat (1973) by Melvin A. Benarde, p. v
    • 经略幽燕: (979-987) : 宋辽战争军事灾难的战略分析. 中文大學出版社. 2003. p. 120. ISBN 9629960532.
  • liáng yào  kǒu
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Liángyào kǔkǒu
      • Traditional: 良藥苦口
      • Simplified: 良药苦口
    • Good medicine tastes bitter.
      • Meaning: What may be good for us later may be hard for us now.
    • English equivalent: Bitter pills may have blessed effects.
    • “Present afflictions may tend to our future good.”
    • James Kelly (1818). A Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs Explained and Made Intelligible to the English Reader. Rodwell and Martin. p. 43.
    • Po-Ching (2000). Chinese Lexicon. Taylor \& Francis. p. 127.
  • Yǒu      
    • Transliteration: Yǒu qí fù bì yǒu qí zǐ.
    • Having such a father must be such a son.
    • English equivalent: Like father, like son.
    • Meaning: Every person bears resemblance to the ones who brought them into this world.
    • Source for meaning and proverb: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 170. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
  • rén suàn   tiān suàn
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Rén suàn bùrú tiān suàn
      • Traditional: 人算不如天算
      • Simplified: 人算不如天算
    • Man’s schemes are inferior to those made by heaven.
    • English equivalents: Man proposes and God disposes; The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.
    • Along With Time. 秀威資訊科技股份有限公司. p. 246. ISBN 9862217340.
  • ròu bāo zi  gǒu
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Ròu bāozi dǎ gǒu.
      • Traditional: 肉包子打狗
      • Simplified: 肉包子打狗
    • To hit a dog with a meat-bun.
    • Meaning: Punishment gives less incentive than a reward.
    • 歇后语词典. 上海大学出版社. 2007. p. 135. ISBN 7810588834.
  • sān   shàng méi shuǐ 
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Sān gè héshàng méi shuǐ hē.
      • Traditional: 三個和尚沒水喝
      • Simplified: 三个和尚没水喝
    • Three monks have no water to drink.
    • English equivalent: Too many cooks spoil the broth.
    • 职业道德与就业创业指导. 清华大学出版社. 2005. p. 71. ISBN 1.
  •   dāng huó  
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Sǐ mǎ dāng huó mǎ yī.
      • Traditional: 死馬當活馬醫
      • Simplified: 死马当活马医
    • Translation: Try to save the dead horse as if it is still alive.
    • English equivalent: He that is worst may still hold the candle.
    • Note: Holding the candle is an idiom meaning to be as good or desirable as someone or something.
    • 俗语词典. 商务印书馆. 1994. p. 89.
  • shī fu lǐng jìn mén, xiū xíng zài  rén
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Shī fu lǐng jìn mén, xiū xíng zài gè rén.
      • Traditional: 師傅領進門,修行在個人
      • Simplified: 师傅领进门,修行在个人
    • Meaning: Teachers open the door. You enter by yourself.
    • “Boys must not have th’ ambitious care of men,
      Nor men the weak anxieties of age.”
    • Horace, Of the Art of Poetry, Wentworth Dillon’s trans, line 212. (19 BC)
    • “But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. 
      Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice – but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.”
    • Barack Obama, Speech at Arlington, Virginia (2009)
    • 紫檀與象牙——當代文人風範:. 秀威資訊科技股份有限公司. 2010. p. 130. ISBN 9862214619.
  • shòu rén     shòu zhī  
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Shòu rén yǐ yú bùrú shòu zhī yǐ yú.
      • Traditional: 授人以魚不如授之以漁
      • Simplified: 授人以鱼不如授之以渔
    • Translation: Teach a man to take a fish is not equal to teach a man how to fish.
    • English equivalent: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
    • 愿景. 中信出版社. 2003. p. VII. ISBN 7800736938.
  • shù dǎo  sūn sàn
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Shù dǎo húsūn sàn.
      • Traditional: 樹倒猢猻散
      • Simplified: 树倒猢狲散
    • Translation: When the tree falls, the monkeys scatter.
    • English equivalent: Rats desert a sinking ship.
    • “When a leader loses power, his followers become disorganized. This proverb is often used to describe fair-weather friends.”[1][specific citation needed]
  • shuǐ néng zài zhōu,  néng  zhōu
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Shuǐ néng zài zhōu, yì néng fù zhōu.
      • Traditional: 水能載舟,亦能覆舟
      • Simplified: 水能载舟,亦能覆舟
    • Translation: Not only can water float a boat, it can sink it also.
    • Meaning: Nature can help and harm you. The people(water) can raise someone(boat) to power, but can also take it away(sink).
    • English equivalent: A double-edged sword.
    • Gao (2007). 金色俄羅斯:穿越時空之旅:. 臺灣商務印書館股份有限公司. p. 112. ISBN 9570521279.
  • 三思而后行
    • Transliteration: Sān sī ér hòu xíng.
    • Think three times before you move.
    • English equivalent: Measure twice, cut once.
    • Meaning: One should always act only after due consideration. A hasty action may involve an improper consideration of important aspects.
    • Source for meaning and proverbs: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 420. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
  • tiān gaō huáng  yuǎn
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Tiān gāo huángdì yuǎn
      • Traditional: 天高皇帝遠
      • Simplified: 天高皇帝远
    • The sky is big and the emperor is far away.
    • English Equivalent: When the cat is away, the mice will play.
    • “When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex, there is an important lesson to be learned. Do not have sex with the authorities.”
    • Matt Groening, Life in Hell
  •  zhāo bèi shé yǎo, shí nián  jǐng shéng
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Yī zhāo bèi shé yǎo, shí nián pà jǐng shéng.
      • Traditional: 一朝被蛇咬,十年怕井繩
      • Simplified: 一朝被蛇咬,十年怕井绳
    • One bitten by a snake for a snap dreads a rope for a decade.
    • English equivalent: A burnt child dreads the fire; Once bitten, twice shy.
    • Meaning: You done something wrong for the first time, you are afraid/do not want to do it again.
    • 林鸿钦,佘振荣,陈添来,刘香云,郭唯真 & 黄慧羚. Bahasa Cina (Pelangi Publishing Group Bhd ed.). p. 106. ISBN 9833532489.
  •  fēn gēng yún,  fēn shōu huò
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Yī fēn gēngyún, yī fēn shōuhuò.
      • Traditional: 一分耕耘,一分收穫
      • Simplified: 一分耕耘,一分收获
    • If one does not plow, there will be no harvest.
    • English equivalent: Sow thin, reap thin.
    • Meaning: Work hard and you shall gain success.
    • 中四普通(学术)课程华文课文强化复习四上Chinese Enrichment Revision for Secondary 4A (Normal Acdemic). 新亚出版社. p. 26. ISBN 9812558624.
  • yǒu qián néng 使shǐ guǐ tuī 
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Yǒu qián néng shǐ guǐ tuī mò.
      • Traditional: 有錢能使鬼推磨
      • Simplified: 有钱能使鬼推磨
    • If you have money you can make the devil push your grind stone.
    • English equivalents: Money talks; money makes the world go round.
    • Meaning: Money is power.
    • 《孽海情天》魔鏡三部曲之第一部. 澳门教育研究中心. 2010. p. 46. ISBN 9996580903.
  •  shī  chéng qiān  hèn, zài huí toú  bǎi nián shēn
    • Transliteration (pinyin): yī shī zú chéng qiān gǔ hèn, zài huí toú yǐ yǐ nián shēn.
      • Traditional: 一失足成千古恨,再回頭已百年身
      • Simplified: 一失足成千古恨,再回头已百年身
    • English equivalent: A single slip may cause lasting sorrow.
    • Meaning: Once make a huge mistake(that may cause jail or death sentence), you want to go back but can’t(regret).
    • 吴世昌; 吴令华 (2003). 吴世昌全集: ce. di 8 juan, Hong lou meng tan yuan wai bian. 河北敎育出版社. p. 224.
  •  zhù zhě tiān zhù
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Zìzhù zhě tiānzhù.
      • Traditional: 自助者天助
      • Simplified: 自助者天助
    • Those who help themselves, God will help.
    • English equivalent: Heaven helps those who help themselves.
    • Meaning: “When in trouble first of all every one himself should do his best to improve his condition.”
    • Source for meaning: Paczolay, Gyula (1997). European Proverbs in 55 languages. DeProverbio.com. p. 150. ISBN 1-875943-44-7.
    • 水煮三国(白金版)(1 200 000册超级畅销书全新升级.华语圈最具影响力的管理学著作之一). 中信出版社. 2008. p. 11. ISBN 7508612493.
  • zǎo  de niǎo er yǒu chóng chī
    • Transliteration (pinyin): Zǎoqǐ de niǎo er yǒu chóng chī.
      • Traditional: 早起的鳥兒有蟲吃
      • Simplified: 早起的鸟儿有虫吃
    • Translation and English equivalent: Early bird gets the worm.
    • Meaning: “Those who are late to act, arrive, or get up tend to miss opportunities already seized by those who came earlier.”
    • Source for meaning of English equivalent: Martin H. Manser (2007). The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs. Infobase Publishing. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-8160-6673-5. Retrieved on 5 September 2013.
    • 小五华文CA \& SA Continual Assessment \& Semestral Assessment Papers for Primary 5 Chinese. 新亚出版社. p. 19. ISBN 9812558888.

Leave a Reply

Scroll Up
%d bloggers like this: