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): wù “things,” yǐleì “the same category,” jù “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.
If you have studied Chinese for 4 or 5 months, you probably know míngbái ( 明 白 ), a Chinese word meaning ‘clearly understood.’ Bù míngbái ( 不 明 白) is what you say when you aren’t quite sure or you are confused about the meaning of something. Wǒ bù míngbái (我 不 明 白) (I’m not clear).
When you are not clear about what your are hearing or reading, you can either apologize (Duìbuqǐ) (对不起) (which also means ‘excuse me’) and say “Wǒ bù míngbái“ (我 不 明 白) and/or politely ask him to explain a little (Qǐng nǐ jiěshì jiěshì) (请 你 解 释 解 释). However, you would NOT want to ask someone to speak míngbái yīdiǎnr (speak it out a little clearer), because it would imply he is hiding something or lying.
A fun idiom is bù míng bù bái (neither clear nor white) ( 不 明 不 白 ) , used to refer to hazy written or spoken ideas, speeches, talk, rules, or even behavior. Laws are sometimes bù míng bù bái so that power can overrule law, when convenient.
One song shows you another way to use míngbái. The lyrics are written out in pinyin and translated into English in the notes.
Bāngmáng (帮忙) means to help (bāng), or literally ‘help with busyness’ (忙). We can often say ‘help someone with something’ like ‘help him wash dishes.’ (bāng tā xǐpánzi) (帮 他 洗盘 ). However, when well-intentioned people try to help you, but they seem to be more of a hindrance than a help, you could complain to others that they bāng dàománg (帮 倒 忙). This expresses that when they tried to help (bāng,) the opposite (dào) occurred making you busier (máng). Another way to say it is yuè bāng yuè máng (越 帮 越 忙) is funnier: the more he helped, the worse (busier) it got. Could be similar to “he was just getting in the way.”