Vocabulary (Review)

Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Amber: Hey everyone. Welcome back to ChineseClass101.com. This is the All About Chinese series, Lesson 13. I’m Amber.
Victor: 大家好 (dàjiā hǎo), I’m Victor.
Amber: And today you’re going to learn the top five phrases your teacher will never teach you. Unless your teacher’s like me and Victor. We’ll teach you.
Victor: Don’t worry though, these are not swear words in any way.
Amber: Yes. That’s another lesson for another day. Ok, but these are… I’d say it’s pretty gritty Chinese some of it. Very real.
Victor: They are. Yeah, they are very good. And I think if you really can speak these, you’ll sound like a pro.
Amber: You’ll learn things anywhere from things you can use to have road rage in Chinese, which of course is very frequency, or just how to say things like “awesome”. That happens too.
Victor: We’re not encouraging road rage.
Amber: No, but it’s inevitable.
Victor: If it happens…
Amber: That’s life.
Victor: You have the correct words to say.

Lesson focus

Amber: Exactly. Ok, so also we’re going to teach you something that will help you get better deals at the market which is very good.
Victor: Very common, yes.
Amber: And also something to say, you just can’t take it anymore”, which is perfect for moments of Chinese learning frustration, Victor. I use that phrase many times.
Victor: You can complain in Chinese.
Amber: Exactly, these are things you need to know. So what are the top five phrases your teacher might never teach you. Victor will tell you right now. We’ll just go through them and then, in a minute, we’ll explain to you how to use them as well.
Victor: Ok, so the first one is 哎哟 (āiyō).
Amber: 哎哟 (āiyō). There’s so many tones you can use. I think, yes, there are Chinese tones, but the one time you don’t have to worry about the tone. Just say it how you want to say it.
Victor: So put some…
Amber: Humph into it. Basically, if anyone can’t tell what it means by the tones of our voices, basically in English is the equivalent of “yikes”.
Victor: “Oh, geez.” Yeah, you say it like that in Chinese too.
Amber: Yeah, it’s just sort of one of those expressions you can always say. Anyways, we’ll get more into it later. What’s the second one?
Victor: This one, get ready for this. 神经病 (shénjīngbìng)
Amber: 神经病 (shénjīngbìng) which means...
Victor: “You’re crazy.”
Amber: Basically “mental illness”.
Victor: Not a very good thing to say so when you’re really mad, “You are crazy”, 神经病 (shénjīngbìng).
Amber: Yes, a powerful word. Next one is the word for “awesome”. How do you say it, Victor?
Victor: 很棒 (hěn bàng)
Amber: 很棒 (hěn bàng)
Victor: Yes.
Amber: I like this one.
Victor: People really pump up. Very simple, very colloquial, that’s very good.
Amber: It sounds like “awesome”, use that word 很棒 (hěn bàng).
Victor: 很棒 (hěn bàng)
Amber: Next one is the phrase you can use at the market.
Victor: This one’s a little bit longer. It’s 便宜一点可以吗 (piányí yīdiǎn kěyǐ ma).
Amber: So that means “Could you give it to me a little cheaper?”
Victor: You find yourself saying this a lot.
Amber: You need this phrase.
Victor: You should say it all the time.
Amber: If you don’t say it, you’re in big trouble.
Victor: Exactly.
Amber: And the last one. “I can’t take it anymore.” How do you say it?
Victor: 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo)
Amber: 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo)
Victor: 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo)
Amber: Very good phrase.
Victor: So the first one will be 哎哟 (āiyō), which means “yikes” or “geez”.
Amber: Yeah, so basically anytime you want to say “yikes” or “geez” you just say 哎哟 (āiyō). So, Victor, tell me when you would say it. When I cross the street and someone almost runs over to me. I’ll be like 哎哟 (āiyō).
Victor: Yeah, why don’t you watch for the light or ...
Amber: Kind of mad at someone. What would you say, Victor?
Victor: I’m really tall so I hit my head a lot in China, so every time that happens I just say 哎哟 (āiyō).
Amber: Yeah, so it’s basically just one of those exclamations you can use for anything, from something small to outrageous, just depending on the umpf that you put in your voice. It depends how mad you are or how outrageous you actually think something is.
Victor: Very flexible.
Amber: Basically when there’s nothing to be said, but you just want to exclaim. Basically throw it out there. It can be 哎哟 (āiyō), right, Victor? It depends on your personal preference.
Victor: It’s like a slight regional difference.
Amber: Yeah, some people will be like 哎哟 (āiyō), some like 哎呀 (āiyā).
Victor: Yeah, it doesn’t matter.
Amber: Just get it out.
Victor: Both will work.
Amber: People will know what you mean. Ok. This is something for something outrageous, maybe. Sometimes it may escalate through to something that needs a stronger word.
Victor: You have to be very careful with the next phrase.
Amber: Yes, and hopefully it doesn’t escalate to this point, but maybe, perhaps, for example, the person who almost runs you over on the street, you have a temper and you might find yourself having toad rage. One thing when I was on the bikes, Victor, is it was only the people who were bad drivers, were the only other people that drove the motorcycles. And they were always the same men. The middle-aged man with the cigarette hanging out, and the cars were fine, the bicycle riders were fine, but there motorcycles, they’re crazy for some reason. So I have to be honest, there were times when I used this word to a person when I had road rage. And they deserved it. It’s basically the word for “idiot” or something, right?
Victor: Right. So in Chinese it’s 神经病 (shénjīngbìng).
Amber: And literally what it means, 神经病 (shénjīngbìng), is “mental illness” or “you’re crazy”.
Victor: Right. It really means “mental illness”. So it’s quite an insult.
Amber: Yeah, it brings back memories. I was called 神经病 (shénjīngbìng) once, actually, by an older woman. But basically 神经病 (shénjīngbìng), “oh, you’re crazy”, it doesn’t sound that bad. In Chinese, this is a severe insult. So be careful.
Victor: Yeah, this is pretty bad. So either I will say really, really close friends that you’re just kind of joking around where you know the other person won’t mind, you can kind of say that. Or, in some cases, if you get really, really mad, you can’t control, have a temper, sometimes you say, whatnot, but usually you don’t hear this a lot, I will say.
Amber: Basically I think it’s important to teach cause then you will know when someone is insulting you. You may not use this word, but if someone says 神经病 (shénjīngbìng) to you, you’d better watch out, maybe take your leave. Ok, so we’re going from rage to euphoria next. The next phrase to learn is a nice phrase, Victor, right?
Victor: And it’s 很棒 (hěn bàng). “Very awesome”.
Amber: “Very awesome”. So the word for “awesome” is 棒 (bàng), and the word for “very” 很 (hěn).
Victor: 很棒 (hěn bàng).
Amber: So kind of like “totally awesome”. 很棒 (hěn bàng)
Victor: 很棒 (hěn bàng)
Amber: Basically everyone knows how to use awesome. For example, Victor and Amber 很棒 (hěn bàng)!
Victor: Yes, we’re 很棒 (hěn bàng).
Amber: You can say we’re awesome. You can say anything ‘s awesome if you want to, but this is the word to deal with. Ok, so here is another phrase, in my experience. The next one, Victor, I found proved invaluable because it saved me a lot of money when I was in China.
Victor: Maybe we should give people the context first. I think in China, when you’re…
Amber: Yes, explain shopping in China.
Victor: When you shop in China, I think besides department stores, pretty much everywhere else you go, you should always bargain.
Amber: And if you use this phrase, this is guaranteed 10% off right there.
Victor: At least.
Amber: At least. But if you don’t say it, then guaranteed they’re giving you a 10% higher even. I mean, there are bartering skills beyond this phrase, but if you can’t do anything, at least say this.
Victor: Right.
Amber: So what is the phrase, Victor?
Victor: That is 便宜一点儿可以吗 (piányí yīdiǎnr kěyǐ ma).
Amber: Ok, so it’s a bit longer. Let’s break down the words. The first word is the word for “cheap”.
Victor: Right, which is 便宜 (piányí).
Amber: Or “inexpensive” 便宜 (piányí).
Victor: 便宜 (piányí)
Amber: So if you say 便宜一点儿 (piányí yīdiǎnr), what does the 一点儿 (yīdiǎnr) add?
Victor: 一点儿 (yīdiǎnr) means “a little bit”.
Amber: So “a little bit cheaper” is basically what 便宜一点儿 (piányí yīdiǎnr) means.
Victor: 便宜一点儿 (piányí yīdiǎnr)
Amber: And then at the end we tack on a little something to sound, to endear yourself to the shop keeper.
Victor: 可以吗 (kěyǐ ma)
Amber: 可以吗 (kěyǐ ma)
Victor: 可以吗 (kěyǐ ma). It means “ok?”, “would that be alright?”
Amber: Yeah, so 可以 (kěyǐ) is the word for “can” actually. And 吗 (ma) is a question particle, tells us we’re asking a question. We hear the word 吗 sort of like a verbal question mark.
Victor: Yeah.
Amber: So put it all together, Victor. What do you say again?
Victor: 便宜一点可以吗 (piányí yīdiǎnr kěyǐ ma)
Amber: So basically what it means is “A little cheaper. Could you?” and I recommend saying it in a cute voice, but not a demanding voice.
Victor: Right. I think in China, in Beijing especially, when you go to the street market, which is very popular for foreign visitors, they will really hike up the price, so you should always… And they expect you to cut down the price as well. So a lot of leeway that you can go.
Amber: Yes, and there is sort of a clinch or seal the deal, but it only works, depends on how much of a gambler you are, because sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. if they give you a little bit lower price, which you might be worried you might not understand, the price they tell you in Chinese. However, they always have a calculator. So they’ll show you on the calculator, the universal tool of bargaining, no matter what language you speak. You have to try to dual effective methods of being prepared to walk away. Cause the only way you’ll get it really cheap is if you’re prepared to walk away.
Victor: Slowly turn away, walk away really slowly, give them enough time to pull you back. There’s always something I tell my foreign friends.
Amber: The thing is the saddest part though is sometimes you know it is the rock-bottom price because you walk away and then they don’t call you back and you’re like, “Darn!”
Victor: Most likely they will though.
Amber: Usually, nine times out of ten, they do. But once in a while, I think I bar to hard and then I lost it. And then you cannot go back or you totally lose face. You’re too embarrassed to go back. Ok, good. So the 便宜一点可以吗 (piányí yīdiǎnr kěyǐ ma) and the walk away. These are two very effective methods. The phrase can go with the walk away, it’s even more effective.
Victor: I think it’s really fun. I think it’s one of the top Chinese experiences, especially for people who go there for the first time. It’s really, really fun.
Amber: It is fun.
Victor: Yeah, because the surprise that eventually the price will be so low from the asking price, you’ll be overjoyed, I think, for a lot of people.
Amber: Yeah. And even the fact that you tried in Chinese makes, maybe, the shop keeper wonder maybe you do know the price more than the average tourist. So…
Victor: They kind of play around with you too, it’s just kind of like…
Amber: Another thing is don’t get scared when they act mad cause they’re not really mad. It’s just an act.
Victor: Just having a little fun.
Amber: Ok, so this leads to another phrase that you will hear a lot. Maybe even from the shop keeper after you bargain with him, Victor. It’s a very good phrase, I love it. It’s good for venting. And it doesn’t have to be directed at anyone. It’s not an insult necessarily.
Victor: It’s not that bad. You just say “I can’t take it anymore”.
Amber: Yeah, basically it’s the word for “I can’t take it anymore.” And what is it, Victor?
Victor: 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo).
Amber: Right.
Victor: 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo).
Amber: Good. So you can mutter it under your breath when you’re angry. 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo).
Victor: 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo).
Amber: Or you can yell it out. “I can’t take it anymore!”
Victor: So 受 (shòu) here is “to bear”.
Amber: Right. And then the 不了 (bùliǎo) is just like “unable to bear”.
Victor: Correct. So many occasions you can use it.
Amber: So for example, if the weather’s terrible, what would you say, Victor? Like today, it’s raining.
Victor: 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo).
Amber: Yeah, or maybe you’re having a fight with your girlfriend and you just can’t take her anymore.
Victor: 哎呀,受不了 (āiyā, shòu bùliǎo).
Victor: 哎呀,受不了 (āiyā, shòu bùliǎo).
Victor: Going back in the lesson a little bit. 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo).
Amber: I think it’s probably high frequency language in boyfriend-girlfriend fights.
Victor: 神經病,受不了(shénjīngbìng, shòu bùliǎo).
Amber: So happy.
Victor: You can use three phrases already in one sentence.
Amber: Exactly, so I think it’s very… all these top five phrases your teacher won’t teach you are very handy Chinese to know. Teachers all over the world should unite and teach these phrases.
Victor: And like I said earlier, if you say this to a Chinese person, they will be very surprised. They’ll think you’re really pro.
Amber: I’m going to try and put them all together, Victor. In fact, these phrases are so common, I think that I can tell a story and use all of the phrases that we’ve just learned.
Victor: Go right ahead.
Amber: For a review.
Victor: Ok.
Amber: Ok. So let me try. Like you say, you’re in the market, right? So the seller tells you the price. So the seller tells you the price and immediately you have to say 哎哟 (āiyō). And then you say 便宜一点可以吗 (piányí yīdiǎnr kěyǐ ma). Remember, that means “A little bit cheaper” right? Then the seller will say to you, he’ll be like 受不了 (shòu bùliǎo). “Can’t take you anymore!” So you’re already asking for a lower price than his obviously extremely low price, right? So then you have to tell him, use the compliment, the nice word we learned, which was for “totally awesome”. Be like, “Oh, come on, shopkeeper, 老板 (lǎobǎn), you’re so 很棒 (hěn bàng), you have to give it to me cheaper.” Go on with the compliment. And then the shopkeeper will be like 神经病 (shénjīngbìng) and kick you out of the store. “Crazy person, get out of my shop!”


Victor: Yeah, usually it doesn’t end like that, but we’re just trying to demonstrate the phrases.
Amber: But just shows that you can use all five of these in there.
Victor: It’s possible.
Amber: In one interaction.
Victor: Right. Hopefully your conversation won’t end in 神经病 (shénjīngbìng).
Amber: Hopefully.
Victor: You won’t call anybody 神经病 (shénjīngbìng).
Amber: Great.
Victor: And most of the time it won’t happen.
Amber: Yeah, most of the time it won’t. Ok, well, that’s for today Victor, and we hope that everyone can go and try out these phrases right away. Except maybe not the 神经病 (shénjīngbìng).
Victor: Right.