English-Chinese Homophones (2)

Today we will look at a few more one-syllable English words that sound like Chinese. For each of these English words, there are many additional Chinese homophones that are not included here. Also, if you utter the English word using a different “tone”, then it will correspond to a different list of Chinese homophones. In any case, I hope that this list will help you remember a few Chinese words by phonic association.

Fun (fàn cooked rice, meal) (fàn peddler, resell)

Wǒ měitiān chīfàn.
I have rice every day.
(Mnemonic: I have fun everyday.)

Nàr yǒu gè màimiàn de tānfàn.
Over there there’s a noodle peddler.

Go (gòu sufficient, enough) (gòu purchase)

Zhèyàng gòu le.
This is sufficient. (This is plenty.)

Nà shì yī gè gòuwùzhōngxīn.
That is a shopping center.

Goo (gù old, incident, cause) (gù solid, firm) (gù look, look after)

Wǒ xǐhuān tīng gùshi.
I like to listen to stories (literally, past events).

Tā hěn wángù.
He is very stubborn.

Wǒmen yīnggāi zhàogu niánlǎo de fùmǔ.
We should look after our elderly parents.

Hoe (hòu time, season, to wait) (hòu behind, after)

Tā shénme shíhòu lái?
What time is he coming?

Tā hòutiān lái.
He is coming the day after tomorrow.

In (yīn overcase, obscure) (yīn sound, tone, news)

Jīntiān shì yīntiān.
It’s a cloudy day today.

Nǐ xǐhuān tīng nǎ yī zhǒng yīnyuè?
What type of music do you enjoy listening to?

Joe (jiù rescue) (jiù mother’s brother)

Jiùmìng ya!
Save my life! (Help!)

Tā shì wǒ de jiùjiù.
He is my uncle.

Knee (nì contrary,to go against) (nì to drown,to be addicted to)

Zhōng yán nì ěr.
Earnest advice grate on the ear. (Chinese adage.)

Bùyào nì’ài zǐnǚ.
Don’t spoil the children.

Lay (lèi tired) (lèi tears)

Wǒ lèi le.
I’m tired.

Tā liú le bùshǎo yǎnlèi.
She shed a lot of tears.

Lee? (lí pears) (lí to leave)

Nǐ xǐhuān chī lízi ma?
Do you like to eat pears?

Parting is a painful event.

Low (lòu to leak, to leave out) (lòu plain, ugly)

Wūdǐng lòu shuǐ le.
The roof is leaking.

Zhè fángwū hěn jiǎnlòu.
This house is crudely built.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. East Asia Student
    Oct 19, 2011 @ 02:12:07

    You might also be interested in Chinese and English words that not only sound similar but also have similar meanings. Google around for “mandarin english coincidences”


    • likeabridge
      Oct 19, 2011 @ 21:22:05

      I have sometimes marveled at a few such coincidences.

      Doesn’t 大狗 (dà gǒu big dog) sound somewhat like “dog”?

      And how about interjections like: 好美呀! (Hǎo měi yā! How beautiful!)

      By the way, one way to say “coincidental” in Chinese is 巧 (qiǎo), which sounds quite like the Italian greeting, “Ciao!”


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