How to say seeing is believing in Chinese

(kàn) and (jian) both mean to see or to look.
看见 (kànjian) is to catch sight of someone or something. You could also say 看到 (kàndào catch sight of), as in:

我看到一只老鹰.
Wǒ kàndào yī zhī lǎoyīng.
I saw a hawk.

偷看 (tōukàn) is to view surreptitiously.

他偷看了我的日记.
Tā tōukàn le wǒde rìjì.
He has peeped in my diary.

Certain things look good or interesting, such as pretty girls, beautiful scenery or good movies. You would describe them as 好看 (hǎokàn). Unsightly, ugly or embarrassing things are said to be 难看 (nánkàn).

How pleasing or repulsive something is, you could best make your own judgement by seeing it for yourself.

百闻不如一见.
Bǎiwénbùrúyījiàn.
Seeing it once for yourself beats hearing it a hundred times from others.
(Seeing is believing. A picture is worth a thousand words.)

看不惯 (kànbuguàn) means to frown upon. Here, (guàn) is the abbreviation for 习惯 (xíguàn habit, being used to).

他看不惯她的懒惰.
Tā kànbuguàn tāde lǎnduò.
He frowns upon her laziness.

看不起 (kànbuqǐ) is to look down upon or be scornful of someone or something. On the other hand, 小看 (xiǎokàn) is to underestimate someone or someone’s achievements.

It’s been observed that dogs tend to fawn on well-dressed gents and growl at people in shabby clothes. Here’s a saying that you could precede with 哼! (Hng! Humph!):

狗眼看人低.
Gǒuyǎnkànréndī.
What a snob – like a dog!
(Who does he think he is!)

看中 (kànzhòng) or 看上 (kànshang) means to take a fancy or to settle on someone, like a pretty girl, or something, like a new house.

看作 (kànzuò) or 看成 (kànchéng) means “to regard as”. When you regard something as not what it is, then this action word means “to mistake for”.

他把泳看成冰.
Tā bǎ yǒng kànchéng bīng.
He thought the Chinese character for swimming was that for ice.

When you discern someone’s true feelings or ulterior motive, you could use anyone of these words to indicate that you’ve seen through the veil:

看破 (kànpò)
看出 (kànchū)
看穿 (kànchuān)
看透 (kàntòu)

看法 (kànfa) is a point of view. This word is used as a noun.

你的看法怎么样?
Nǐ de kànfa zěnmeyàng?
What’s your opinion?

Alternatively, you could say:

你看怎么样?
Nǐ kàn zěnmeyàng?
What do you think?

你看怎么办?
Nǐ kàn zěnme bàn?
In your opinion, what should we do?

In the above sentences, (kàn) takes on the meaning of “to think” or “to consider”.

看望 (kànwang) is to visit someone.

看病 (kànbìng) means to see a doctor. This same verb is also used when talking about a doctor seeing his patients.

盼望 (pànwàng) is hope for or to look forward to. 望眼欲穿 (wàngyǎnyùchuān) means to fix your eyes looking forward to something intently. In other words, you are peeling your eyes waiting for a letter, a loved one’s safe return, etc.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Anthony Bogadek
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 09:09:56

    Hi, dear Ms Lin,
    Great lesson as usual.
    I have noticed some incorrect spellings in the English text.
    1. “embarassing things”; should be “embarrassing”
    2. Seeing is believeing. I think it should be: believing
    Kind regards,
    A bee

    Reply

  2. Krystal
    Sep 06, 2012 @ 10:28:59

    You site is always so helpful to me. Thanks!

    Reply

    • likeabridge
      Sep 06, 2012 @ 10:53:43

      Hi Krystal,

      Your comment has made my day. If you have any questions, please feel free to post them. I will try to answer them; and other readers may be able to help, too.

      Reply

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