Making choices in Chinese

What will your vacation spot be this year? Here are a few possibilities:

巴黎 (Bālí) Paris
罗马 (Luómǎ) Rome
北京 (Běijīng) Beijing
西雅图 (Xīyǎtú) Seattle
墨西哥 (Mòxīgē) Mexico
台湾 (Táiwān) Taiwan
亚马逊河 (yàmǎxùnhé) the Amazon River
埃及 (Aījí) Egypt
阿拉斯加 (Alāsījiā) Alaska
北极 (běijí) the North Pole

Please read Chapters 29 and 30 of “Learn Chinese through Songs and Rhymes” to study names of places and various means of transporation.

After selecting the travel destination, there are still many choices to be made with regard to such things as mode of transportation, travel agency, tour group, accommodations. In fact, we are faced with making numerous choices each day even when we are not planning for a vacation – what to wear, what to buy, what to eat, what to say, what not to say, and so on. It will be good for us to learn the Chinese words for making various types of choices.

考虑 (kǎolǜ) means to consider or think over. 选择 (xuǎnzé) is to make a choice or selection. 考虑 (kǎolǜ) and 选择 (xuǎnzé) can also serve as nouns.

考虑各种因素再作选择.
Kǎolǜ gèzhǒng yīnsù zài zuò xuǎnzé.
Take all factors into consideration then make a choice.

Both (xuǎn) and (zé) mean to choose or to select. These characters are often found in combination with other characters as shown in the following examples.

选购 (xuǎngòu) is to pick out and purchase.
选曲 (xuǎnqǔ) is to select songs or tunes.
选读 (xuǎndú) is to select books for reading.
选修 (xuǎnxiū) is to take an elective course.

选举 (xuǎnjǔ) is an election. In this democratic process, the candidates, 候选人 (hòuxuǎnrén), campaign for an office, i.e. 竞选 (jìngxuǎn compete in an election). The voters, 选民 (xuǎnmín), cast their votes, which are called 选票 (xuǎnpiào).

当选 (dāngxuǎn) is to be elected; and 落选 (luòxuǎn) is to lose an election.

大家推选王晓霞当班长.
Dàjiā tuīxuǎn Wáng Xiǎoxiá dāng bānzhǎng.
We elected Wang Xiaoxia to be our class leader.

In sports, an athlete selected for a sports competition is called 选手 (xuǎnshǒu).

择偶 (zéǒu) is short for 选择配偶 (xuǎnzé pèiǒu), which means to choose a mate. So, if you see on a form a blank with the heading 配偶 (pèiǒu), you are supposed to fill in the name of your spouse.

择善而从 (zéshànércóng) is maxim teaching people to choose to follow what is good.

不择手段 (bùzéshǒuduàn) is an idiom describing how some people would get what they want by fair means or foul.

饥不择食 (jībùzéshí) describes a state of being so hungry that one would eat anything and not be choosy.

决定 (juédìng) means to decide, to make up one’s mind, or to determine.

我们决定去阿拉斯加度假.
Wǒmén juédìng qù Alāsījiā dùjià.
We’ve decided to go to Alaska for vacation.

犹豫不决 (yóuyùbùjué) is to be indecisive.

他考虑了很久, 还是犹豫不决.
Tā kǎolǜ le hěn jiǔ, háishì yóuyùbùjué.
He thought about it for a long time, but still could not make up his mind.

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