Every language uses idioms to compare and express ideas more vividly. Get learning some common idioms and sound more like a native speaker. Then try them out on some of your friends and give them a surprise how competent you are in Mandarin!

In this Podcast, you will learn:

(i) To understand the meaning of some popular idioms

(ii) How to use certain idioms in common usage


Two friends are waiting to see a film:


(pái duì mǎi diàn yǐng piào)

(lining up for tickets to see a film)


Wǒ tǐng xǐ huān zhè gè nǚ yǎn yuán de.

I like this actress.


Kě xì tā zài zhè bù diàn yǐng lǐ zhǐ shì ge dǎ jiàng yóu de.

Too bad that she is not a star in this film.


Shì mā?

Is that so?


Tā zhè jué sè jiù shì gè shǎ bái tián, zhǐ huì mài méng.

Her character is just a sweet naïve girl. The only thing she does is look cute.

Chinese words and phrases mentioned in this Podcast:

打酱油:literally means buy soy sauce; a bystander

傻甜白:literally means silly, white and sweet; a cute and naïve girl

卖萌:acting adorable/being cute

排队:line up

电影票:ticket for a film



可惜:too bad that

这部电影:this film

部:measuring word for film


Cultural/Grammar note:

In the past, we needed to take our own container when we went to buy soy sauce, because the soy sauce in the grocery store was stored in a large jar. However, in this dialogue, ‘打酱油’ means ‘a bystander’. This phrase is very common now in Chinese daily conversation.

‘傻白甜’ refers to a girl who is really cute and pretty, but very naïve and simple minded.

‘卖萌’ means a person pretending to be cute to please someone, or to get away with something.

E.g. ‘一只小猫在卖萌’ (a kitty is acting cute.)

‘她照相的时候很会卖萌’ (she knows how to be cute when taking photographs)

If a sentence starts with ‘可惜’, usually you can translate it to ‘too bad that’ or ‘it’s a pity that’.

Mandarin Chinese learning resources we recommend:

round-italki-logo-3d-01Using Italki, a unique system of learning Mandarin Chinese where you interact with real teachers, is widely recognised as an effective way to learn a new language! You’ll make more progress and learn how native Chinese speakers really speak. Plus, Italki is more affordable than offline tutors, offline schools and software, and is convenient to use at your own pace and place!



Keats Chinese SchoolKeats Chinese School, which was founded in 2004, is one of the top Mandarin Chinese language schools in China, offering both one-on-one immersion Mandarin courses and small group Chinese classes. Located in Kunming, Keats develops personalised exercises and materials for students to meet their learning goals and requirements and can arrange a student visa for its 16 week course.

Yes! I’d like to learn Mandarin Chinese more effectively

Narrated by Song Liu

Our Podcast narrator, is a native Chinese speaker and is originally from Beijing, China and is keen to help you get ahead with learning. She graduated from San Francisco State University with a Master of Arts in Communication Studies. Song also hosted a Mandarin live call-in news and music radio show in the Bay Area.

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