Chinese words for the four emotions

An aged relative recently remarked, “In life there is more suffering than joy.” Of course, I’m in no position to argue with this beloved centenarian who has been around since motorized movie cameras first replaced hand-cranked cameras and who has witnessed WWI, WWII as well as the Second Sino-Japanese War. In fact, you may agree with her when you take a look at the Chinese phrase that lists the emotional responses to what life deals to each and every person – 喜怒哀怨 (xǐ nù āi yuàn). Out of the four emotions cited, only one pertains to happiness.

As an adjective, (xǐ) means being pleased or delighted. 欢喜 (huānxǐ delighted) and 高兴 (gāoxìng glad) are synonymous. 惊喜 (jīngxǐ) means being pleasantly surprised, or a pleasant surprise.

As a noun, (xǐ) refers to a happy event, such as a wedding, expecting a baby, or some other occasion for celebration. On plaques or banners displayed at a wedding, you may see two of this character joined together. That is not an official Chinese character, but a symbol to represent the auspicious event for the two families involved.

喜酒 (xǐjiǔ) is a wedding feast.

喜事 (xǐshì) is a happy event, such as a wedding or the arrival of a new baby.

喜气洋洋 (xǐqìyángyáng) is a phrase often used to describe a person sporting a jubilant aura, or a place that is filled with joy.

你看他红光满面, 喜气洋洋.
Nǐ kàn tā hóngguāngmǎnmiàn xǐqìyángyáng.
Look at him, glowing with a ruddy face and beaming with joy.

As a verb, (xǐ) means to like or to be fond of someone or something, as in 喜欢 (xǐhuān) or 喜爱 (xǐài)

喜剧 (xǐjù) is a comedy.

她喜欢看喜剧.
Tā xǐhuān kàn xǐjù.
She likes to watch comedies.

(xǐ auspiciousness, jubilation) has the same pronunciation as (xǐ), but mainly occurs in 恭贺新禧 (Gōnghèxīnxǐ Happy New Year) and 千禧年 (qiānxīnián the millennium).

(nù) is anger, indignation, or being angry. (hǒu) means to roar. Therefore, 怒吼 (nùhǒu) means to roar angrily.

动怒 (dòngnù) means the same as 生气 (shēngqì), i.e. to get angry or to lose one’s temper.

愤怒 (fènnù) is anger or indignation. This word can also be used as an adjective.

怒火 (nùhuǒ) likens fury to flames of fire.

他怒火冲天.
Tā nùhuǒ chōngtiān.
He flared up.

恼羞成怒 (nǎoxiūchēngnù) means to be shamed into anger.

(āi) means sorrow, sadness, or being sad or cheerless. 哀伤 (āishāng), 哀痛 (āitòng) and 悲哀 (bēiāi) all mean being sad or sorrowful. These words can also be used as nouns. In everyday speech, the most commonly used word for being sad or brokenhearted is 伤心 (shāngxīn).

他听到那坏消息, 非常伤心.
Tā tīngdào nà huài xiāoxi, fēicháng shāngxīn.
He heard the bad news and was very sad.

悲观 (bēiguān) means pessimistic. 悲剧 (bēijù) is a tragedy.

她看悲剧会掉眼泪.
Tā kàn bēijù huì diào yǎnlèi.
Watching a tragedy will make her weep.

哀号 (āiháo) is to wail or cry piteously.

哀求 (āiqiú) means to implore or entreat.

那妇女哀求所罗门王不要杀那个婴儿.
Nà fùnǚ āiqiú Suǒluómén Wáng bùyào shā nàge yīngér.
That woman begged King Solomon not to kill that baby.

(yuàn) means to resent, to complain, or being resentful. 抱怨 (bàoyuàn) and 埋怨 (mányuàn) mean to complain or to grumble.

怨言 (yuànyán) are complaints.

In formal Chinese, 佳偶 (jiāǒu) refers to a happily married couple, and 怨偶 (yuàn’ǒu) refers to an unhappy couple.

Granted that the world around us cannot be a rose garden every day, therefore it is up to us to look at the bright side of things. An optimist, or 乐观的人 (lèguān de rén), tends to hold a positive attitude toward life.

How to say “I hate you” in Chinese?

The opposite of 我爱你. (Wǒ ài nǐ. I love you.) is 我恨你. ( Wǒ hèn nǐ. I hate you.)

(hèn) is to hate or to regret. This word can also serve as a noun, meaning hatred. As with love, there are various flavors of hatred and resentment. (yuàn) as a verb means to blame or to complain. As a noun, it means resentment or antagonism. And 怨恨 (yuànhèn) means to hold a grudge against someone, or the resentment or grudge itself. 仇恨 (chóuhèn) is hatred between enemies. A deep-seated bitter hatred is called 深仇大恨 (shēnchóudàhèn).

恼恨 (nǎohèn) is to hate and feel bothered. 痛恨 (tònghèn) is to utterly hate someone or something. 憎恨 (zēnghèn) means to detest. 嫉妒 (jídù) is to be jealous of someone. Therefore, 嫉恨 (jíhèn) is to hate out of envy. 愤恨 (fènhèn) is to hate with indignation. These words can also be used as nouns, as the following example shows:

他的眼神露出无限憎恨.
Tā de yǎnshén lùchū wúxiàn zēnghèn.
The expression in his eyes revealed immeasurable detestation.

In the above sentence, 无限 means without limit, or infinite.

怀恨 (huáihèn), or 记恨 (jíhèn), means to nurse a hatred or resentment.

他对你怀恨在心.
Tā duì nǐ huáihèn zài xīn.
He bears deep grudges towards you.

可恨 (kěhèn) is an adjective that means abominable.

那小偷真可恨.
Nà xiǎotōu zhēn kěhèn.
That thief is really despictable.

The phrase 恨不得 (hènbude) expresses a great desire to achieve an unlikely result or effect and the regret of not being able to do so.

我恨不得马上飞到你身边.
Wǒ hènbude mǎshàng fēi dào nǐ shēnbiān.
I wish I could fly over right away to be by your side.

后悔 (hǒuhuǐ) means to regret or to feel remorseful. Therefore, 悔恨 (huǐhèn) means to be deeply remorseful. Here, the “resentment” is towards oneself.

我后悔没有打电话给他.
Wǒ hǒuhuǐ méiyǒu dǎdiànhuà gěi tā.
I regret not having called him.

对于那事件, 我感到非常悔恨.
Duìyú nà shìjiàn, wǒ gǎndào fēicháng huǐhèn.
I feel extremely sorry about that incident.

Please note that when by “hating” you mean “being displeased”, you should use 不高兴 (bù gāoxìng) rather than (hèn).

我不高兴他又迟到了.
Wǒ bù gāoxìng tā yòu chídào le.
I hate that he’s late again.

What else will irk you?

How to say the splendor of love in Chinese?

光彩 (guāngcǎi) means splendor, luster, radiance or glory. 光辉 (guānghuī) also refers to the radiance, brilliance and glory such as that of the bright sun. Therefore, one could speak of the splendor of love as 爱的光彩 (ài de guāngcǎi) or 爱的光辉 (ài de guānghuī).

The traditional American folk song “Down in the Valley” provides a simple tune to which many trite love verses have been fitted. Here is one of the well known rhymes:

蛇 (shé) Snakes

蛇 (shé) Snakes

Roses love sunshine;
Violets love dew.
Angels in heaven
Know I love you.

玫瑰爱阳光;
Méigui ài yángguāng,
Roses love sunrays,

兰爱雨露.
Lán ài yǔlù.
Orchids love rain and dew.

永远都不忘,
Yǒngyuǎn dōu bù wàng
I’ll remember always,

非你莫属.
Fēi nǐ mò shǔ.
I belong to you.

Click on this link then select “Roses love sunshine” to hear a recording of the Chinese verses.

(shǔ) as a verb means to belong to. (mò) and (fēi) are both terms of negation. You know from your algebra classes that the product of two negative values is a positive value. Therefore, “If not to you, then I won’t belong.” is the same as “I will only belong to you.” The following example illustrates the same idea:

我决心非她不娶.
Wǒ juéxīn fēi tā bù qǔ.
I’m determined to marry no one but her.

敢情 (gǎnqing) is the colloquial way of saying “indeed” or “I dare say.” Don’t confuse it with the word 感情 (gǎnqíng), which is a noun that means feelings or emotions.

Remember the song “Love Somebody” that we sang a couple years ago? If you are quite sure your affection will be reciprocated, then you could substitute the last line with the following:

敢情我也是他的心上人.
Gǎnqing wǒ yě shì tā de xīn shàng rén.
And I know somebody loves me, too.

When talking about love, probably the last thing that comes to mind is a snake. Well, there is a fascinating Chinese tale called 白蛇传 (Báishézhuàn Legend of the White Snake), in which the heroine is a powerful white snake fairy who took on a lovely and graceful human form and married a mere mortal (and a weakling at that) with whom she fell in love. Add to the cast a faithful friend, the 青蛇 (qīng shé, blue snake), who is also a mystical being, and a meddling, unsympathetic Buddhist monk, the 法师 (fǎshī) or 和尚 (héshàng), drama ensues. There are many different versions of this beautiful and moving story of love, friendship and struggles against external interference of the unnatural union. You can get some details at this link.

白蛇同青蛇成了结拜姐妹.
Bái shé tóng qīng shé chéng le jiébài jiěmèi.
The White Snake and the Blue Snake become sworn sisters.

许仙与白素贞结为夫妻.
Xǔ Xiān yǔ Bái Sùzhēn jié wéi fūqī.
Xu Xian and Bai Suzhen tie the knot and become husband and wife.

法海和尚要捉拿白蛇.
Fǎhǎi héshàng yào zhuōná bái shé.
The monk, Fahai, wants to capture the White Snake.

If you are ambitions and want to see how much you can get out of a Beijing opera movie with only Chinese subtitles provided, then click on Legend of the White Snake.

Traditional Chinese operas, referred to as 京戏 (jīngxì) or 京剧 (jīngjù), are staged with little or no prop, and the performers use a set of established theatrical gestures to help project an emotion or an action involving an object (which is invisible to the audience). The female characters usually sing in a high-pitched voice that could sound annoying to the untrained ear. When these ladies sing rhyming verses to describe a beautiful scenery or to express their inner thoughts, a word (note) could be held for quite a long while. I think this Legend of the White Snake movie can serve as a good introduction to Chinese opera. Featuring Chinese subtitles, real-life scenes, and even special effects, it should be less of a cultural shock to you than a traditional Chinese opera performed on stage. The dialog is somewhat off from the standard Mandarin pronunciation and intonation, and may sound strange to you. The actors do a fabulous job with body language, though. And many of the scenes are slow enough to permit you to take a good look at the displayed Chinese characters. Perhaps you could make a Lunar New Year’s resolution to study and understand all the subtitles for this movie by the end of this year, 今年 (jīnnián), or next year, 明年 (míngnián), or the year after, 后年 (hòunián)?

祝你有个愉快的情人节!
Zhù nǐ yǒu gè yúkuài de Qíngrén Jié!
Have a pleasant Valentine’s Day!

Learn Chinese word for year and age

The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on the 10th of February on the western calendar this year. It will be the Year of the Snake, a Chinese zodiac sign that represents shrewdness and intelligence. The Chinese character for snakes is (shé). The poisonous ones are called 毒蛇 (dúshé). 眼镜蛇 (yǎnjìngshé) is a cobra, and 响尾蛇 (xiǎngwěishé) is a rattlesnake. 四脚蛇 (sìjiǎoshé), literally a snake with four feet, is actually not a snake, but rather a lizard.

The old agriculture-based Chinese society has handed down to us the following saying:

一年之计在于春.
Yīniánzhiqjìzàiyúchūn.
The entire year’s planning hinges on spring.

This is akin to:

好的开始是成功的一半.
Hǎo de kāishǐ shì chénggōng de yībàn.
Well begun is half done.

As you know, the Chinese word for a year is (nián). 年年 (nián), or 年年岁岁 (niánniánsuìsuì), means every year, or year after year. On the other hand, 长年 (chángnián), or 终年 (zhōngnián), means all year long. Depending on the context, 终年 (zhōngnián) could also mean the year one dies.

年初 (niánchū) is the beginning of a year, while 年底 (niándǐ), or 年终 (niánzhōng), means year-end.

他领了不少年终奖金.
Tā lǐng le bùshǎo niánzhōng jiǎngjīn.
He received a substantial year-end bonus.

年代 (niándài) is a time period, or a decade.

在这个年代, 几乎人人都会用电脑.
Zài zhègè niándài, jīhū rénrén dōu huì yòng diànnǎo.
In this time and age, nearly everyone knows how to use a computer.

年级 (niánjí) is a grade or year of a school system. 年假 (niánjià) are the New Year holidays, which often coincide with the winter vacation.

薪金 (xīnjīn) or 薪水 (xīnshuǐ) is one’s salary or pay. Therefore, 年薪 (niánxīn) means annual salary.

利息 (lìxī) is the interest on a sum of money, and 年息 (niánxī) is the annual interest.

(nián) also refers to one’s age, as in 年岁 (niánsuì), 年纪 (niánjì) and 年龄 (niánlíng).

他多大年纪?
Tā duō dà niánjì?
How old is he?

他和我同年.
Tā hé wǒ tóngnián.
He and I are the same age.

年轻 (niánqīng) means young, and 年老 (niánlǎo) means aged.

幼年 (yòunián), or 童年 (tóngnián), means childhood. 中年 (zhōngnián) means middle age, and 晚年 (wǎnnián) and 老年 (lǎonián) refer to old age.

Returning to the subject of the Chinese Lunar New Year, 大年夜 (dàniányè) is the Lunar New Year’s Eve, when family would gather around and enjoy dishes of scrumptious foods together. 大年初一 (dàniánchūyī) is the Lunar New Year’s Day, when people would pay one another a New Year call, i.e. 贺年 (hènián) or 拜年 (bàinián).

大年初一我们到爷爷家拜年.
Dàniánchūyī wǒmén dào yéye jiā bàinián.
On New Year’s Day, we go to Grandfather’s house to wish him a Happy New Year.

The Chinese Lunar New Year is also called the Spring Festival.

春节快乐!
Chūnjié kuàilè!
Happy Spring Festival!

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