Chinese proverbs, or 谚语 (yan yu) are ancient sayings of wisdom or advice taken from literature and history, written by famous philosophers and writers. These proverbs can be related to many aspects of life.
In this post, we’re going to learn some famous Chinese proverbs about attitude and learning, the meaning of these proverbs and the equivalent English idiom (if there is one). Perhaps you could pick something relevant to add to your Chinese compo?
Ready to get started?
Examples of Chinese proverbs about attitude
1. 塞翁失马，焉知非福 (sài wēng shī mǎ, yān zhī fēi fú)
This is the first Chinese proverb that we are going to learn.
What does this Chinese proverb mean?
When we translate this in English, this proverb literally means Sai Weng [an old man’s name] lost his horse, but he does not know that it’s a blessing. The English version of this is “Blessing in disguise”.
What does this teach us? When things don’t happen according to our plan, instead of feeling down or imagining the worst, we should learn how to stay optimistic and look at the situation from a more positive point of view.
2. 凡人不可貌相, 海水不可斗量 (fán rén bù kě mào xiàng, hǎi shuǐ bù kě dòu liàng)
This Chinese proverb literally translates to “you can’t judge a person by their look, just like how you can’t measure how deep the sea water is by using cups”. The English version of this proverb is “You can’t judge a book by its cover”.
What can we learn from this saying?
Things are not always what they seem. A person can look honest and kind on the surface, but they can be dishonest and evil in reality, you’ll never know. So don’t judge people based on their appearance.
3. 路遥知马力，日久见人心 (lù yáo zhī mǎ lì, rì jiǔ jiàn rénxīn)
This is a proverb that is quite similar to the previous one. – “You can only tell a horse’s strength by the journey it travels, you will only see a person’s personality with time”. If we want to say this in English, we can say “time will tell”.
If you really want to get to know someone’s true self, the best way to do it is through time.
Next, let’s look at some Chinese proverbs that are associated with learning.
Examples of Chinese proverbs about learning
1. 读万卷书不如行万里路 (dú wàn juàn shū bù rú xíng wàn lǐ lù)
Reading 10,000 books is not as good as walking 10,000 li road. This is especially true in today’s world where exposure is more important than knowledge.
2. 活到老，学到老 (huó dào lǎo, xué dào lǎo)
Live until you are old and study until you are old. You’re never too old to learn. Since the world is always changing and there are new discoveries everyday, it’s important to keep learning and stay updated with times as you age.
3. 书到用时方恨少 (shū dào yòng shí fāng hèn shǎo)
Only when you need to use a specific knowledge of something do you regret not learning as much. This Chinese proverb is a reminder that we should always read widely because there will be a time in life when the knowledge that you’ve learnt will come in handy.