You probably already know the words 意思 (yìsi, “meaning”) and 不好意思 (bù hǎoyìsi, “I’m sorry”) in Mandarin. They are commonly used in sentences like:
- Zhè shì shénme yìsi?
- What does it mean?
- 我迟到了, 不好意思!
- Wǒ chídào le, bù hǎoyìsi!
- Sorry I’m late!
But did you know both of them have many more meanings — there’s really a multiverse of 意思 yìsi (meaning) 🤯
Watch our teacher Naren 老师 lǎoshī break down these words in this week’s video 👇
意思 YÌSI | “MEANING”
The original meaning of 意思 (yìsi) is “meaning” or “idea”. You’ll often hear people say:
- Wǒ de yìsi shì …
- I mean … / What I mean is …
- Zhè jù huà shì shénme yìsi?
- What does this sentence mean?
But, besides the original meaning, there are a few more ways to use 意思 yìsi 👇
有意思 YǒU YÌSI | “TO BE INTERESTING”
Use this phrase to say that something is “interesting”:
- Yǒuyìsi / méiyǒuyìsi
- Interesting / not interesting (boring)
- 我看了一部很火的电影,叫 “长城”，太有意思了！
- Wǒ kàn le yī bù hěn huǒ de diànyǐng jiào “Chángchéng”, tài yǒuyìsi le!
- I watched a very popular movie “The Great Wall”. So interesting!
意思意思 YÌSI YÌSI | “TO SHOW GRATITUDE”
Another way to use 意思 (yìsi) is to express one’s gratitude by presenting a gift. In this case, you can say:
- Yìsi yìsi
- to be grateful = to give a little present
- Wǒ bāng le nǐ zhème dà de máng, nǐ bù yìsi yìsi ma?
- I helped you a lot, aren’t you going to get me something (= give me a little present in return)?
不好意思 bù hǎoyìsi | “TO FEEL SORRY”
- Jīntiān de huìyì wǒ chídào le, tài bù hǎoyìsi le!
- I was late for the meeting today, I’m so sorry!
不好意思 bù hǎoyìsi | “TO FEEL EMBARRASSED”
If you happen to be in a situation that makes you feel ashamed of something or embarrassed, you can also say:
- Bù hǎoyìsi!
- (It’s) so embarrassing!
- 今天在地铁上摔了一跤, 那么多人看我。别提，多不好意思了!
- Jīntiān zài dìtiě shàng shuāi le yijiāo, nàme duō rén kān wǒ. Bié tí, duō bù hǎoyìsi le!
- I fell down on the subway today, so many people saw me. Don’t even mention it, (it was) so embarrassing!
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