Easy Way to Learn Chinese Proverbs (English-Chinese)

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Chinese proverbs, which epitomize Chinese history and culture, are a treasure of Chinese language.

In recent years, with the cultural and economic exchanges between Chinese and the outside world becoming increasingly frequent, more and more foreigners have come to China for traveling or working. On the one hand, foreigners thirst for gaining knowledge about Chinese history and culture and learning Chinese language; on the other hand, some Chinese people find it difficult to translate the Chinese proverbs properly into English when they talk with foreign friends.

This book has been compiled to solve the aforementioned problem. It consists of eighty-three proverbs with one story (both in Chinese and English) following each. They are the most popular ones in modern Chinese usage. To enhance comprehension by foreign readers, each proverb in this book appears in two forms: Chinese characters and pinyin. With the vivid illustrations matching some of the stories, readers will get a strong impression and a distinct idea of the proverbs.

In addition to displaying a panorama of ancient China and offering much knowledge concerning Chinese history, this book provides foreign readers with a chance to become acquainted with the essence of the Chinese language. By reading this book and trying to apply the proverbs in writing or everyday conversation, foreign readers will find their Chinese friends amazed and impressed, and thus will become more confident in the study of the Chinese language.

Furthermore, the English translation of this book has been proofread by Thomas Shou, and American expert who is proficient in the Chinese language, and thus it presents fluent and elegant English to readers. Therefore, it can help Chinese readers to improve their spoken and written English, enabling them to communicate with foreign friends more freely.


Table of Contents

When one man finds the Tao, even his chickens and dogs ascend to heaven with him

Missing you one day is like being separated for three autumns

The words of a dying man are good words

It is rare for a man to live to 70

When the Eight Immortals cross the sea, each shows his or her own ability

A gentleman will die for his confidant

After three days, view a gentleman with new eyes

Because of negligence, Jingzhou is lost

Everything is ready, and all that we need is an east wind

Just after you mention Cao Cao, he shows up

A thousand – mile dyke can collapse due to an ant - hole

A goose feather sent from thousands of miles away is a present little in size but rich in meaning

A thousand gold pieces buy a neighbor, 800 buy a home

If you are bright when you are young, you may not necessarily amount to something when you grow up

Heaven is high and the emperor is faraway

One should not receive a reward for doing nothing

Lord Jiang casts the line for the fish which wants to be caught

Fifty steps laugh at 100 steps

Refuse to bow down for 50liters of rice

No one step should be taken beyond Leichi Lake

Not up to those above, but above those below

Thinking like a petty man to judge the intentions of a gentleman

Judging a talent solely by his appearance is doing him an injustice

It’s still hard to tell at whose hand the deer will die

Even the cleverest housewife can’t cook a meal without rice

Within the four seas all men are brothers

Never pull on your shoes in a melon patch; never adjust your cap under a plum tree

Rather be a shattered vessel of jade than an unbroken piece of pottery

Sima Zhao’s ill intent is known to all

People can’t do without enough food

Seeing once is better than hearing for a hundred times

Make further progress even if you’ve come a long way

Correct mistakes if you’ve committed them, and guard against them if you have not

Like father, like son

Success or failure, Xiao He is the man behind it

Thrift leads to success, luxury results in failure

Treating a dead horse as if it were alive

A dead Zhuge frightening off a living Zhongda

Tearing down a bridge after crossing it

Only in the coldest winter do pine trees show their mettles

As long as Qing Fu is not removed, there is no end to the trouble of the State of Lu

Why use a butcher’s knife to kill a chicken?

Blindly believing the whole book is worse than having no book

Distant water can’t put out a fire nearby

A waterside pavilion sees the moon first

What is near red becomes red; what is near black becomes black

Cutting entangled jute with a sharp knife

Embrace Buddha’s feet when in dire need, but burn no incense when things are normal

He who knows the situation is a wise man

Friendship between gentlemen is like water

No joking froma gentleman

Originated from indigo, blue is even bluer

Those playing with fire are sure to burn themselves

An oppressive government is fiercer than a tiger

Animals of the same breed flock together, and so do people of the same breath

Zhou Yu beats Huang Gai — the former wants to beat somebody and the latter is willing to be beaten

The dog bites lü Dongbin for it doesn’t understand lü’s sympathy on it

A brave man is sure to step out if you offer a high reward

Hardly worth eating but not bad enough to throw away

Don’t feel ashamed while walking alone with one’s shadow or facing one’s quilt alone at night

Sympathy is common nature for men

Training an army for a thousand days to be used for just one hour

An overturned chariot ahead should serve as warning to those behind

Covet Shu after capturing Long

The peach and the plum do not speak, yet a path is worn beneath them

It is ridiculous for an ant to try to topple a giant tree

Holding a weapon upside down is like giving the handle to others to attack oneself

To shoot a man, first shoot his horse; capture the chief to beat his force

More haste, less speed

Showing off one’s skill with the axe before Lu Ban

As the Tao rises one foot, the demon rises ten feet

Utmost sincerity can pierce even metal and stone

The old drinker’s real interest is not wine

How can a swallow know the ambition of a swan?

Bend one’s body to a task until one’s dying day

No eggs stay intact under an overturned nest

The tiger won’t hurt you if you don’t hurt the tiger

The time isn’t as important as the terrain; the terrain isn’t as important as the unity of the people

No way to catch the tiger’s cub without entering the lair

No way to repel Sima Yi without the empty city ruse

Opportunity knocks but once

Having eyes but not recognizing Jingshan jade

Three calls on the thatched cottage

Easy Way to Learn Chinese Proverbs (English-Chinese)