To be honest in Chinese

Gray Zucchini Fruits (aka Mexican Squash)

My heart is filled with joy when I go to the garden to check on my gray zucchini plants. The huge dark-green leaves spreading out from turgid stems and the light-green fruits swelling up under attractive bright yellow-orange blossoms are indeed wondrous to behold, but my main concern is, “Which puppies will be ready to eat in the next couple of days?” Stir-fried young zucchinis are tender and mildly sweet – a delight to the discerning palate. (See recipe for Vegetarian’s Delight in my “Tame Migrain the Delicious Way” ebook.) I carefully remove any extra blossoms from the plant, chop the golden petals up and toss them into the frypan as well. Yummy! The Chinese call zucchinis 夏南瓜 (xià nánguā summer pumpkins) or 西葫芦 (xīhúlù western gourds). I prefer the latter name because of its interesting ring.

The Chinese word for fruits in general is 果实 (guǒshí). Our focus today is on the other meanings of the character (shí), which relate to the fact that a fruit is something solid and tangible, and therefore real and true.

When interpreted as a combination of a verb and a nouns, the word 结实 (jiēshi) means to bear fruit. Used as an adjective, 结实 (jiēshi) means sturdy, strong, tough or muscular.

实在 (shízài) means real, true, honest or dependable. As an adverb, it translates to indeed or really.

Tā zuòrén shízài.
He is an honest and dependable person.

Wǒ shízài bù míngbái tā wèishénme líkāi wǒ.
I really don’t understand why she left me.

说实在的, 我很想念她.
Shuō shízài de, wǒ hěn xiǎngniàn tā.
Actually (to state the fact), I miss her very much.

实际上 (shíjìshàng) means in reality or as a matter of fact.

Shíjìshàng wǒ bù zànchéng tā qù bālí.
In fact I don’t approve of his going to Paris.

不切实际 (bùqièshíjì) means unrealistic or impracticable.

Tā de jìhuà bùqièshíjì.
His plan is impractical.

On the contrary, 脚踏实地 (jiǎotàshídì to have one’s feet planted on solid ground) means to be earnest and down-to-earth.

The adjective 真实 (zhēnshí) is used to describe something that is true, real or authentic. 真实的故事 (zhēnshí de gùshi) is a true story. 真实的情况 (zhēnshí de qíngkuàng) is the actual situation or what is actually happening. This is often abbreviated as 实况 (shíkuàng). Therefore 实况转播 (shíkuàng zhuǎnbō) is a live broadcast. Similarly, 实情 (shíqíng) also means the actual situation or the true state of affairs. However, it is usually used to refer to the truth of the matter.

The idiom 名符其实 (míngfúqíshí) describes someone who lives up to his or her name. It can be applied to inanimate objects as well. On the other hand, 名不副实 (míngbùfùshí) means unworthy of the name or title.

Tiāntáng dǎo shì yīgè míngfúqíshí de dùjiàqū.
Paradise Island lives up to its name as a vacation area.

确实 (quèshí) means indeed or truely.

一般说来, 台湾的人确实很友善.
Yībān shuō lái, Táiwān de rén quèshí hěn yǒushàn.
Generally speaking, the people in Taiwan are indeed quite friendly.

货真价实 (huòzhēnjiàshí) describes merchandise that is genuine and fairly priced. When used to describe a person, this expression translates to “through and through”. For example,

Tā shì yīgè huòzhēnjiàshí de shūdāizi.
He is a total bookworm.

To verify, or 证实 (zhèngshí), a physical law, one could do an experiment, or 实验 (shíyàn). The laboratory is called 实验室 (shíyànshì). To gain hands-on experience, it also helps to do fieldwork, or 实习 (shíxí).

忠实 (zhōngshí) means faithful or loyal, and 诚实 (chéngshí) means to be honest and not tell lies. 老实 (lǎoshi) means frank, honest and well-behaved, often borderin on being simple-minded, naive or gullible.

Tā tà lǎoshi le!
He is so gullible!

When you want to start a remark by saying “Frankly” or “To be honest”, you could use the expression 老实说 (lǎoshi shuō).

老实说, 我对他没兴趣.
Lǎoshi shuō, wǒ duì tā méi xìngqù.
To be honest, I’m not interested in him.

To end this lesson on a funny note, I would like you to type “Frankly, I don’t give a fig.” into Google Translate and see what it shows for the Chinese translation. Do you know the correct way of saying this in Chinese?

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.

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.

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:

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.

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 I hope you like it.

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