Chinese multisense words – Be careful of traps!

No matter how much you love or hate multisense words in Chinese, they are there to greet you with surprise from time to time.

Be careful of those traps, so you won’t fall…


When you overhear people commenting on a new published book and say it’s “很黄 hěn huáng (too yellowish)”, don’t check the book cover, it has nothing to do with colors, "pornographic" is all it means.


If someone told you that he would come to you to "算账 suàn zhàng (settle up the bill)". Don’t worry about your wallet, worry about your bones. That means you might get beat up.


Your friend comments on what you just said as “有水分 yǒu shuǐfèn (containing water)". It dosen’t mean how gentle your voice or expression is. It means you’re lying.


We all know rich people love"古董 gǔdǒng (antiques)". But nobody likes to be called 古董, cuz that means “you’re old-fashioned and out-of-date".

In the following story, you’ll see how a multisense word was learned by Brad and helped him with his Chinese comprehension unexpectedly… :-)


Hope you enjoy …


When you think you understand Chinese – A Learn Chinese story that ...



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Comment by Kevin Lewis on September 7, 2012 at 8:52am

Yep! Things change with time and different cultures learn from those around them.... :)


Comment by Grace on September 7, 2012 at 1:12am

粉红色在中国一般是小姑娘的颜色. No connection to "pornographic". 

Culture difference is very interesting :-)

旧时的中国婚礼上不能穿白色的, 因为白色是葬礼上穿的。 现在的中国婚礼都西化了,白的红的都穿。

Comment by Meixiang Fu on September 6, 2012 at 10:05am



Comment by Kevin Lewis on August 31, 2012 at 9:43am

I guess its true when we say we learn from our mistakes!


Comment by Grace on August 31, 2012 at 12:18am

Thanks, Kevin.

Stepping into a language trap could be a good thing in many ways ... it does help with our memories at least... :-)))) In my early stage, I was caught by English slang traps a lot, that was some good learning experience...

Comment by Kevin Lewis on August 30, 2012 at 1:27pm

Very interesting stuff...good to share with Chinese learners. Of course in English language you can come across things like this too. I guess its part of many languages- but an trap for learners definately!


Comment by Grace on August 22, 2012 at 10:46am

Thanks Thomas!

Believe it or not, the first time I heard about it was from a 9 year old Chinese learner (Canada born Chinese), who retold the story in Chinese to me and I couldn't help laughing...

Top Member
Comment by Thomas Doherty on August 22, 2012 at 8:54am

That is a nice joke on your link !!

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