I am a native born American learning Mandarin Chinese as a second language. I have a bachelor's degree in Chinese, and at this stage in my Chinese learning, I have hit a peak with spoken Chinese and I have been putting all my energy into learning more written Chinese. Chinese idioms are special because normally they are only four characters and you need to memorize what they mean in order to understand; this is the education that is taught in Taiwan elementary schools that I was never able to be a part of. If you can memorize these, you can drastically improve your formal Chinese reading and formal Chinese writing skills.
It can be hard to pick up idioms just out of context. However there are not a lot of English resources that focus on just idioms, and the ones that do don't filter out the commonly used idioms. Chinese idiom dictionaries also have too many idioms that are not widely known or used, or are too formal for normal writing or speech. Some idioms are more formal variations of other more common idioms with the same meaning. In this blog, I am focusing on the more commonly used idioms that most native speakers will recognize, and which are commonly used in formal speech and writing such as news reports and newspapers.
Therefore I have created this list using commonly used idioms selected from the dictionary with the help native speaker, filtering the idioms by asking whether or not the native speaker has ever heard of or knows of the idiom.
This is a major project, and it will probably take me a few years to catalog all of the useful idioms in the dictionary. The list below is organized according to character stroke order and will be added upon regularly. Some words have two definitions, which are separated by a semicolon. Similar meanings are separated by a comma.
FYI: the reason I do not use a table is for SEO purposes, so this list can be found in Google. Also, all these English translations are from yours truly, using a Chinese to Chinese idiom dictionary, translated with my knowledge of Chinese and referencing various other dictionaries when needed.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.