How to say ‘a party of four’ in Chinese

In mainland China, when you enter a restaurant, a waitress or waiter will ask you, “Jǐweì?” (几位?) “How many people in your party?”  means “how many” and weì is a measure word for “guest.”  It is also the first character in the word for seat.

You can answer in two ways: (1) sìweì (四位) “four seats or guests” or (2) sìgerén (四个人) “four persons.”

The people in Taiwan are a little more superstitious.  They avoid saying the word for four, , because it sounds like the word for “death” in Chinese. It wasn’t long ago that you could not find a 4th floor button on the elevators, either!  They avoid saying “four” in the restaurant by saying,  sān jiā yī  (三 加 一) “Three plus one.”  Obviously, you would never give a cash gift of forty dollars or celebrate a birthday at 40 years old there.

You can learn more Chinese for getting seated in restaurant here in this free lesson.

Here’s a video lesson I found on Youtube.




How to say “Birds of a Feather Flock Together” in Chinese

The idiom that expresses “birds of a feather flock together” isn’t expressed so vividly in Chinese as it is in English, but it is a very useful and often-used phrase.  Surprise your Chinese friends.  It is expressed as wùyǐleìjù ( 物以类聚): “things,”   yǐleì “the same category,”  “get together.”  If you are learning Chinese and are enthusiastic, find some other enthusiastic birds to flock with. You will learn a lot faster.  You’ll find it flocking easy.


Hú is foolish and reckless?


胡 “reckless” can be used to make many Chinese phrases referring to recklessness or foolishness.  We often use them to joke with close friends, not acquaintances or people we don’t know very well.  (1)* húshuōbādào 胡说八道  “Idiom used to criticize. Talk lies and nonsense,”  (2)*  hútú  胡涂 “adj. confused,muddled,” (3)* húsīluànxiǎng 胡思乱想  “Idiom to mean  foolish thinking,”  (4)* húhuāluànyòng 胡化乱用 “Idiom to mean spend and use money recklessly,”    (5) húshuōluàndào   胡说乱道  “Idiom to mean talk wildly and foolishly,”  (6) húyán  胡言  “noun to refer to foolish talk,” (7) húchuī 胡 吹 ” verb phrase meaning to brag or talk big,” (8) húzhi 胡支 “verb phrase meaning to hem and haw or make excuses,” (9) húrìnòng 胡日弄 “colloquial verb phrase to mean to act recklessly,”  and (10)  húlái  胡来  “verb phrase meaning to bungle, cause mischief, proceed recklessly.”






A Chinese Idiom for Warren Buffet

jiǎo tà shí jiao

Alan at posted an idiom on  They say it is for intermediate students, but the idea is basic to succeeding in life, especially Warren Buffet (jiǎo tà shí dì).Click to find out what it is, its background, characters and usage.

Standing on Solid Ground



Duibuqi vs. Baoqian

Dui4buqi2 (对不起) is the Chinese word for “sorry.”  It can also be used to mean “excuse me,” for example if someone has to ask you to move aside on the bus or elevator when he or she wants to get off.  A westerner may find it strange for someone to be apologizing to him on such occasions.  It can also be use to interrupt someone while he or she is speaking, if necessary. Bao4 qian4 is a more direct way of apologizing and is not often used to excuse one’s self. You can practice Dui4buqi2 (对不起) here.

Here’s a lesson by Peggy in Taiwan.  She uses bu hao yisi, “I’m embarrassed,” to mean “excuse me” and duibuqi to mean “I’m sorry.”  The boy replies meiguanxi, meaning “it doesn’t matter” or “no sweat.”

Here’s a song.  Dui bu qi.  The Pinyin is here. Get someone to explain it to you in English.

And another one you might enjoy.  Beginning Chinese learners, I guess. Duibuqi. Wo shi Meiguoren. Wode Zhongwen buhao.  Meiguanxi.