Chinese synonyms for “good”

Besides (hǎo) there are a few other words that covey the meaning of wellness, goodness, fine quality, kindness, friendliness, helpfulness and auspiciousness.

(liáng) means good or fine. Obviously, 良好 (liánghǎo) means good or well.

良机 (liángjī) means a good opportunity, and 良心 (liángxīn) is one’s conscience.

凭良心讲, 他不如你唱得好.
Píng liángxīn jiǎng, tā bùrú nǐ chàng de hǎo.
Truth to tell, he does not sing as well as you.

良久 (liángjiǔ a good while) is synonymous with 许久 (xǔjiǔ),好久 (hǎo jiǔ) and 很久 (hěn jiǔ). In these expressions, (liáng), (xǔ), (hǎo) and (hěn) serve as adverbs.

好久不见!
Hǎo jiǔ bùjiàn!
Long time no see! (Haven’t seen you for a long time!)

善良 (shànliáng) means kind-hearted and honest. 善意 (shànyì) means goodwill, or with good intentions. 友善 (yǒushàn) means to be friendly.

善于 (shànyú) means to be good at doing something.

我不善言词.
Wǒ bùshàn yán cí.
I’m not good with words.

改善 (gǎishàn), or 改良 (gǎi liáng), is to improve.

益处 (yìchù) means the same as 好处 (hǎochù benefit). 有益 (yǒuyì) is the adjective that means beneficial.

益鸟 (yìliǎo) is a beneficial bird.

良师益友 (liángshīyìyǒu) is a phrase you could use to describe someone who is a mentor and a helpful friend.

(jí), 吉祥 (jíxiáng) and 吉利 (jílì) all mean auspicious or auspiciousness.

良辰吉日 (liángchénjírì) is an idiom that means “a fine time on an auspicious day”. This would be the date and time to select for one’s wedding ceremony.

凶多吉少 (xiōngduōjíshǎo) is a set phrase use to indicate that an undertaking bodes ill rather than well. On the other hand, the phrase 逢凶化吉 (féngxiōnghuàjí) is music to one’s ear as it means: “Bad luck will turn into good luck.”

良辰美景 (liángchénměijǐng) means “a fine time and a beautiful sight”, such as one you would often find yourself in while dating the person of your dream.

美好 (měihǎo) means fine and wonderful, and 完美 (wánměi) means perfect.

美德 (měidé) is a virtue.
美名 (měimíng) is a good name or good reputation.
美味 (měiwèi) means delicious, or delectable food.

优美 (yōuměi) means graceful and beautiful.
优良 (yōuliáng) means good, or of fine quality. It can be said of an object or a person.
优秀 (yōuxiù) means excellent or outstanding, such as in:

他是一个优秀的学生.
Tā shì yī gè yōuxiù de xuésheng.
He is an outstanding student.

(jiā) means good, fine, or beautiful.
佳音 (jiāyīn) is a favorable reply or good tiding.
最佳女主角 (zuìjiā nǚzhǔjué) is the best leading lady, or the best actress.
佳人 (jiārén) refers to a beautiful woman.
佳偶 (jiāǒu) is a happy, compatible couple.
佳期 (jiāqī) refers to someone’s wedding day.
佳节 (jiājié) is a happy festival or holiday.

每逢佳节倍思亲.
Měiféngjiājiébèisīqīn.
On festive occasions we doubly miss our dear ones far away.

(jiā) means good or fine.
嘉奖 (jiājiǎng) is to commend or laud. It also works as a noun.

By the way, I just posted a book trailer for “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” at youtube.com. I hope you like it.

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How to use hao in Chinese

One of the first things that a beginning student of the Chinese language learns to say is: 你好! (Nǐhǎo! Hello!) The character (hǎo) is made up of (nǚ female) and (zǐ person). 女子 (nǚzǐ) is the Chinese word for women, who are generally perceived as the fairer gender with a kindly disposition and a great capacity to love and nurture.

You will be pleased to know that (hǎo) occurs in many commonly used Chinese words. However, it doesn’t take on the same meaning in all of these words. We can loosely sort these words into three groups.

The following words utilize the standard meaning of the word (hǎo), such as well, good, fine, nice, kind, friendly, easy and in good health.

好好 (hǎohǎo) means nice, nicely, or properly. 好好先生 (hǎohǎoxiānshēng) refers to a goody-goody who doesn’t want to offend anybody.

好意 (hǎoyì)means kindness, good intention, well-intentioned, or with good intentions.

好吃 (hǎochī) means tasty (tastes good).

好过 (hǎoguò) means to have an easy time or to be in easy circumstances. On the other hand, 不好受 (bù hǎoshòu) is to feel uncomfortable or ill at ease.

好处 (hǎochù) is a benefit or an advantage.

好歹 (hǎodǎi) means anyhow, in any case, no matter in good or bad way.

好端端 (hǎoduānduān) is to be in perfectly good condition or good health.

要好 (yàohǎo) is to be on good terms or to be friendly with someone. 相好 (xiānghǎo) means to be on intimate terms. As a noun, this word refers to an intimate friend, a lover or a mistress.

也好 (yěhǎo) could be translated to “may as well” or “okay”, “fine”.

好办 (hǎnbàn) means easy to handle.

好在 (hǎozài) means fortunately or luckily.

The adjective 好走 (hǎo zǒu) can be used to describe an easy route. The sentence, 好走. (Hǎo zǒu.) is commonly uttered to departing guests to wish them a safe walk home.

The following words and phrases contain (hào), pronounced in the fourth tone, which means to like, to love, or to be prone to.

好吃 (hàochī) means to be very fond of foods.

好客 (hàokè) is used to describe people who are hospitable.

好战 (hàozhàn) means to be belligerent (said of a country or nation).

好奇 (hàoqí) means to be curious.

好学 (hǎoxué) means to be studious.

好大喜功 (hàodàxǐgōng) is a phrase describing someone with an excessive craving for greatness, success, or credit.

The following examples shows a few additional ways in which (hǎo) is used in common speech.

好一个 (hǎoyīgè) translates to “what a”. Remember the Chinese folksong “Jasmin Flower”? Please note the difference in the unit of measure used.

好一朵美丽的茉莉花!
Hǎo yī duǒ měilì de mòli huā!
What a beautiful jasmin flower!

As an adverb that means “very” or “quite”, (hǎo) can be used interchangeably with (hěn), such as in 好多 (hǎoduō quite a few, a lot of) and 好高兴 (hǎo gāoxìng awfully happy).

好不容易 (hǎo bù róngyì), or sarcastically, 好容易 (hǎoróngyì), is a way of expressing the sentiment of having accomplished something with great difficulty.

In the following expressions, (hǎo) sort of takes on the meaning of 可以 (kěyǐ may, can).

好比 (hǎobǐ) means for example, to be just like, or can be compared to.

好像 (hǎoxiàng) means to seem like.

只好 (zhǐhǎo) is an adverb that means to have no choice but to.

正好 (zhènghǎo) means just in time, just right, or as it happens.

伸出手来, 我好帮你搽药膏.
Extend your hand, so I may apply the ointment for you.
Shēnchū shǒu lái, wǒ hǎo bāng nǐ chá yàogāo.

Requiescat

母亲节前几天我失去了亲爱的母亲.
Mǔqīnjié qián jǐtiān wǒ shīqù le qīnài de Mǔqīn.
A few days before Mother’s Day I lost my dear mother.

虽然母亲已离开人世.
Suīrán Mǔqīn yǐ líkāi rénshì
Although Mom has left this world,

她会继续活在我的心里.
tā huì jìxù huó zài wǒ de xīnli.
she will continue to live in my heart.

希望她美丽的灵魂在天堂好好安息.
Xīwàng tā měilì de línghún zài tiāntáng hǎohǎoānxī.
May her beautiful soul rest in peace in heaven.

A Traveler’s Song

As Mother’s Day is coming up this Sunday, I thought we’d talk about a poem dedicated to mothers. 游子吟 (Yóuzǐ Yín), A Traveler’s Song, was written by 孟郊 (Mèng Jiāo), a poet from the Tang Dynasty. 游子 (yóuzǐ) is a formal word that refers to a traveler, a wanderer or one who lives far away from home. Therefore, this poem could as well be titled “Chant of an Absent Son”. As most Chinese know this peom by heart, you should commit it to memory, too.

慈母手中线,
Cí mŭ shŏu zhōng xiàn,
The thread in the loving mother’s hand

游子身上衣.
Yóuzǐ shēnshàng yī.
Makes the clothes for the traveling son.

临行密密缝,
Línxíng mì mì féng,
Stitch by stitch, tight and firm,

意恐迟迟归.
Yì kŏng chí chí guī.
She provides for his late return.

谁言寸草心,
Shéi yán cùn căo sīn,
Who says the heart of an inch of grass

报得三春晖.
Bào dé sān chun huī.
Can ever repay the sunshine that forever lasts?

Although the verses were written in classical Chinese, these lines are rather easy to understand, with the help of the following translation.
慈母 (címŭ) means the loving mother. In spoken language, it is 慈爱的母亲 (cíài de mǔqin).

手中 (shŏu zhōng) and 手里 (shŏu li) both mean “in one’s hand”.

他手里拿着一张照片.
Tā shŏu li ná zhe yī zhāng zhàopiàn.
He is holding a photo in his hand.

(yóu) means to wander, to rove around, to travel or to swim. (There are separate Traditional Chinese characters for wandering on land and swimming in water. This distinction is lost in the Simplified Chinese character system.)

身上衣 (shēnshàng yī) is abbreviated from 身上的衣服 (shēnshàng de yīfu clothes on one’s back)

临行 (línxíng) means just before leaving. (línxíng), in the sense of “to walk”, is the formal word for (zǒu). In Chinese, it is customary to add the word “ (shí)” or the phrase “的时候 (de shíhòu)” to an action or event to explicitly indicate a point in time. For example:

他临走时, 给了我五元小费.
Tā lín zǒu shí, gěi le wǒ wǔ yuán xiǎofèi.
Just before leaving, he gave me a $5 tip.

他临走的时候, 给了我五元小费.
Tā lín zǒu de shíhòu, gěi le wǒ wǔ yuán xiǎofèi.
Just before leaving, he gave me a $5 tip.

(mì) means dense, close, meticulous, intimate or secretive. It is used in this poem to describe the close spacing of the stiches.

(féng) means to sew.

(yì) means an idea, a meaning, an intention, to expect, to anticipate, or to intend. For example, 心意 means kind regards or intention. In the poem, this word stands for 意料 (yìliào anticipate, expect).

(kŏng) means dread, fear or being terrified. Here, it means 恐怕 (kǒngpà perhaps, I think that, I’m afraid that).

迟归 (chí guī) translates to 很晚回来 (hěn wǎn huílái). In the poem it refers to a long absence.

谁言 (shéi yán) means 谁说 (shéi shuō), or who says.

There is not a kind of heart that’s called 寸草心. This is a metaphor employed by the poet who likens a mother’s love to the grace of the sunshine in springtime, and the heart of an offspring to the grass that benefits from the sunshine.

Here, (bào)is the abbreviation for 报答 (bàodá to repay a favor).

(sān) means three or a lot of. (As they say, three is a crowd.)

(huī) refers to sunlight. It shows the sun radical on its left side. 春晖 is the sunshine in springtime.

游子吟 (Yóuzǐ Yín) is usually sung at a slow tempo to the tune of an old German folksong. It invokes reminiscence of our childhood and youth and reminds us how much our mothers love us. The song often brings tears to our eyes. The mood is much lighter, however, in this spirited animation. I hope you will be able to follow along.

To all you great mothers out there:

母亲节快乐!
Mǔqīnjié kuàilè!
Happy Mother’s Day!

What is Qi? (2)

The word (qì) is also used to represent the emotions, the spirit, the quality or the momentum within a person or the mannerism and airs about a person.

Emotional Qi

We’ve talked about 火气 (huǒqì) before, which is used to describe an inflammation or a rage. 气愤 (qìfèn) is an adjective that means to be angry. 生气 (shēngqì) also means to get angry or to take offense. However, as a noun, this word means vitality or a sign of life.

她听了这话, 非常生气.
Tā tīng le zhèhuà, fēicháng shēngqì.
After hearing these words, she got very angry.

气人 (qìrén) means annoying.

(chōng) means to clash or to flush away with water. 气冲冲 (qìchōngchōng) is to be beside oneself with rage. (hū) is to breathe out or to shout. 气呼呼 (qìhūhū) means panting with rage.

怄气 (òuqì) is to sulk at someone or something. 赌气 (dǔqì) is to feel wronged or offended and act rashly.

他怄气, 不来了.
Tā òuqì bù lái le.
He is upset and does not want to come.

出气 (chūqì) is to vent one’s anger, usually upon another person.

有时大人拿小孩出气.
Yǒushí dàren ná xiǎohá chūqì.
Sometimes grown-ups vent their angers on the children.

脾气 (píqì) is one’s temperament. 脾气大 (píqì) means to have a bad temper. 脾气好 (píqìhǎo) means to have a good disposition. This is akin with 和气 (héqì), which means being friendly and amiabile.

牛脾气 (niúpíqi) means ox-like stubbornness, or pigheadedness.

沉住气 (chénzhuqì) is to keep one’s cool, stay calm and not jump to action.

语气 (yǔqì) is the tone of voice. 低声下气 (dīshēngxiàqì) means talking in a subdued voice and in meek manners. This phrase is commonly used for describing submissiveness.

不服气 (bù fúqì) means to remain resentful and unconvinced, and refuse to accept a settlement or judgement as being reasonable or final.

Qi as Mannerism and Airs

气度 (qìdù) is a person’s comportment or capacity for tolerance, and 气派 (qìpài) are a persons airs, mannerism and style.

傲气 (àoqì) is arrogance, while 流气 (liúqì) is a roguish demeanor.

客气 (kèqi) is being polite and courteous.

小气 (xiǎoqì) means stingy or petty.

幼稚 (yòuzhì) means naïve or childish. 稚气 (zhìqì) and 孩子气 (háizǐqì) are two other terms for childishness.

怪里怪气 (guàiliguàiqì) describes someone who is queer or eccentric.

珠光宝气 (zhū guāng bǎo qì) is a term often used to describe a richly bejewled lady.

Spiritual Qi

正气 (zhèngqì) is uprightness or morality. 勇气 (yǒngqì) is the word for courage. 志气 (zhìqi) means aspiration.

才气 (cáiqì) refers to literary talent. A gifted scholar, like Xu Zhimo, would be called a 才子 (cáiqì).

运气 (yùnqi) is one’s luck, which can be good or bad. 福气 (fúqi) is good fortune. 喜气洋洋 (xǐqìyángyáng) means to be full of joy, as on one’s wedding day.

一口气 (yīkǒuqì) literally means one breath. It can be used as an adverb to describe doing something at one go. For example,

他一口气把那本书念完了.
Tā yīkǒuqì bǎ nà běn shū niàn wán le.
He finished reading that book in one sitting.

On the other hand, 争一口气 (zhēng yīkǒuqì) means to try to win some honor or credit for your family or country. So, 不争气 (bùzhēngqì) is a term often used by parents to criticize their son or daughter for failing to live up to their expections.

Since (qì) is pronounced the same as the initial sound of “cheese”, why not say (qì) next time you pose for a photo?

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