Seven Useful Chinese Proverbs

Chinese proverbs are common and often have stories behind them. The proverb ‘Fate brings people even they are thousands of miles away’ (有缘千里来相会: yǒu yuán qiān lǐ lái xiāng huì) is about a couple who live thousands of miles away met each other despite all difficulties. As we all know, in ancient times, people’s mobility was limited, and young couples met each other only after the approval of their parents. So this proverb points out that human relationships are decreed by Fate.

Today, I chose some interesting Chinese proverbs and sayings, and let’s have a look at the stories behind them!

Luóbo báicài, gè yǒu suǒ ài
1. 萝卜白菜,各有所爱
(‘some people like carrot, but others like cabbage’. This proverb indicates that everyone has his own hobbies.)

ài wū jí wū
2. 爱屋及乌
(‘when you love a house, you will love the crow under the roof’, means ‘Love me, love my dog’ in English. )

3. rén xīn qí, Tài shān yí
(Tài shān is one of the five great mountains in China. This proverb encourages people that Tài shān can also be removed if people work with one mind.)

sài wēng shī mǎ, yān zhī fēi fú
4. 塞翁失马, 焉知非福
(This ancient story is about an old man lost his horse and people came to say comfort him, but to everyone’s surprise, he was not at all sad and said ‘This may be a good thing, who knows?’ Few days later, the missing horse returned to the old man with another horse. From this story, it tells people that a bad thing may become a good thing under certain conditions.)

Rén bù kě mào xiàng, hǎishuǐ bù kě dǒu liáng
5. 人不可貌相, 海水不可斗量
(As you can never really know a man by his looks, neither can the sea be measured by a gourd.)

dāng jú zhě mí, páng guān zhě qīng 
6. 当局者迷,旁观者清
(When you are playing chess, sometimes it’s not easy to make good a judgment since you’been so indulged in the game. Whereas, a person who sits next to you may have a better view or understanding of the situation thus to make a better decision than you. This proverb tells people that being involved in a matter may not guarantee a comprehensive overview of it due to too much concentration on gains and losses, while the onlookers, who have a calmer and more objective attitude, have a better grasp of what is going on.)

dú wàn juàn shū bù rú xíng wàn lǐ lù
7. 读万卷书不如行万里路
(It is better to travel ten thousand miles than to read ten thousand books. This proverb tells students in ancient time not to just read books, but travel to see the bigger world.)