Qing Wen: Describing Personalities in Mandarin: Part 1 | Intermediate Chinese Lesson | ChinesePod

Qing Wen: Describing Personalities in Mandarin: Part 1 | Intermediate Chinese Lesson | ChinesePod

Hi, everyone! Welcome to ChinesePod. My name’s Fiona. 大家好, 欢迎来到中文播客, 我是Constance In today’s QingWen, we’re gonna answer a very popular question. A lot of our users have actually asked us is… how do we describe personalities in Chinese? 嗯,其实跟英文有一点点不一样, 有一些英文常用的中文不一定说。 Exactly, so this actually quite… of course there are some very common adjectives to describe someone’s personality. But there’s definitely some different ones. It’s kind of specific depending on the cultural context. So we’re gonna explore a bit of that in today’s QingWen. Alright. Let’s get started. 好的。 Alright first things first, we’re gonna give you a very useful sentence structure to kinda pop all the things we learn in the sentence structure. Alright. 好,所以如果你要说一个人是怎么样的人, 他的个性怎么样,最好要有一个句子。 So he or she is this type of person. 可以再来一次吗? So usually it’s either two or three character adjectives. Okay, so, with personality traits, I guess we can kind of generally divide them into good personality traits and bad personality traits. Let’s leave the bad ones to the end because they’re a bit more juicy usually. Let’s start with the good ones. Let’s start with kind of a more straight forward one. So, smart, how would we say that? 好, 哪里哪里,没有没有 所以 ” 他是一个聪明的人” 或是 ” 他是一个很聪明的人 ” 这两个你都会听到 So with today’s adjectives, a lot of them you can easily add a 很 in front, just to intensify it a bit more. Often with Mandarin adjectives, sometimes it just feels a bit more natural to add a 很. and we’ll highlight those cases in today’s lesson. 好
OK, so 聪明, smart. How about ” happy ” ? ‘Coz I feel like a lot of our… our users will kind of… I guess you will kinda wanna use 开心, but that’s not correct, right? It’s a bit unnatural. 他不能说他是一个开心的人或快乐的……有一点点太现代 真正比较好我们会说 ” 他是一个乐天的人 ” 他是一个很乐天或乐天的人 So someone with a… a happy disposition. So all the way throughout today’s lesson, we’re gonna be giving you some more natural adjectives It’s not incorrect. Someone will of course understand you. You say 他是一个很开心的人 对,或是快乐的人 But the key point of today’s lesson, we’re gonna give you the real native adjectives. So 聪明,乐天 OK, how about one of… probably my worst qualities? Patience… I would say someone very patient. Now I wanted to say 有耐心, but I guess when we’re describing personalities it’s probably better to say… 耐性。因为 personality in Chinese, 个性。 所以我们会说有耐性的人。 像我们常常可能想要说 我的老师是一个很有耐性的人 My teacher is a very patient person. 嗯,那在这边 ” 性 ” 跟 ” 心 ” 两个声音非常像,对不对? 要注意的就是 ” 性 ” 是 x-i-n-g /xìnɡ/
第四声,对。那 ” 心 ” 是 x-i-n 第一声 /xīn/ Alright. So we’ve talked about happy, patient, generous. How about… a lot of our Chin… just a lot of our ChinesePod users I’m sure fall within this category. Someone that’s very studious. And now this… I guess is a little bit more awkward in English ‘coz I guess it’s not that we don’t value someone that studies a lot, but particularly in Chinese and Asian culture, someone that is studious. It’s a very desirable quality, right? So how do we say that? 比较简单的我们说 ” 他是一个用功的人 “。 他是一个很用功的人。 但是如果我们要强……要说这是非常好的感觉,会用 好学. I would… I guess more translate as like a desire to learn, right? So someone with a strong to… desire to learn. What would we say? 你可以说 ” 我是一个很好学的人 ” 对,那注意这个 /hào/ 就是 /hǎo/ 这个字。 但是如果当做动词的意思, desire to do something. 好学. Alright Constance, how about the term ” generous “? And what I mean by that is not just generous with your money. It can be generous with your time. Generous in the most overall sense. So some like generous in time, money, speaking to people. What would we say? 我们平常会说一个人很大方,” 他是一个大方的人 “。 ” 大方 ” 有两个意思,两个可能。一个是他愿意花钱, 他不怕花钱,所以他很大方。 Okay, so the first situation where you can use 大方 is someone that’s very generous with their money, right? So if your friend or your boss always treat you to dinner, You can say 他是一个很大方的老板。 嗯,没错。 那另外一个可能呢是这个人他的个性 让人……让人家觉得他跟谁在一起都不会很奇怪 很愿意跟别人在一起,在很多人的前面不会怕。 我们也可以说他很大方。 So I guess the second use of the word 大方 is more in terms of in a social context. Someone’s very open, you know, that’s not awkward in group situations, someone’s very welcoming. You can kinda put under the category of 大方 对。那当别人对你很好的时候, 你大概不会说 ” 谢谢你的大方 “, 你会说 ” 谢谢你的好意 “。 那个是不一样。在中文里面, 你不能说 ” 谢谢你的大方 “。 Alright. Alright, one of the final kinda positive qualities I want to talk about today is sociable. Now, this is a bit tricky to translate. I guess again ‘coz the two cultures view these traits somewhat differently. But can you give us kind of… how you would describe someone that’s very sociable. 如果我们……刚刚我们讲 ” 大方 ” 是跟谁都可以…… 好像在很多人的地方不会很奇怪。 那如果我们要说 sociable, 我们会讲他比较 很愿意跟别人讲话、聊天、交朋友。 这个叫做 so…大……活泼跟外向 Kind of sociable, right? So 外向 is… I guess the direct translation would be more an extrovert. Someone’s very extroverted, very… you know… And 活泼, I would describe more as someone that’s like bubbly, lively. And isn’t it interesting that we think of someone… I guess it’s obvious that someone’s sociable usually is extroverted and bubbly, but in the Chinese language, we use these two terms to describe someone that’s sociable. 对 Now, let’s move on to the bad personality traits. The ones you use when you’re bitching about someone. Okay, so let’s start with He’s a really evil person. 嗯,我们常常查字典,evil 你会查到 很邪恶,可是这个 ” 邪恶 ” 这个字有点太……太强, 它不太跟人之间的关系…… Okay, so you’re more to like the concept of evil rather you wouldn’t really use it to describe someone, right? 对,” 邪恶 ” 比较像一个……一种感觉,好像看不见。 那如果我说一个人 evil, 我们可以说 ” 他坏心眼 ” 坏——心——眼 Is not weird? Like someone that’s… 不会不会,” 心眼 ” 其实就是说你心里面 想的那些东西不好,所以 ” 坏心眼 “。 Someone that’s constantly got bad thoughts inside their minds. Mind’s, eye, 对啊, minds, eye, 对不对? 对对对,心眼 坏心眼 没错。
Alright. How about someone that’s just annoying? It’s…annoying. 大家都知道 ” 讨厌 “,对不对? 好,annoying, 别人会讨厌你吗,所以 ” 讨人厌 “。 他是一个讨人厌的人。 所以… so if we say 他是一个讨厌的人 Doesn’t work, right? 不太知道哪……哪里……讨厌的人的那个可能性太多, 对我们来说不清楚。 ” 他是一个讨人厌的人 “,就是 你跟他在一起总是觉得他很烦那样…… Right. So that term clarifies, right? He annoys people or she annoys people. 他是一个讨人厌的人。 对,噢,因为 ” 讨厌 ” 说的好像是我的感觉。 他是一个讨厌的人, – 有点不太清楚这个……这个讨厌的意思到……
– The… the relationship, the direction… 对,到底在哪里。 How about… we talk about 大方, How about someone on the opposite? Someone that’s very stingy. 小气 小气 对,比方说 ” 我的男朋友是一个很小气的人”。 都不买东西给我。
对。 So 我们大概不想遇到很小气的人。 Right. That’s someone that’s stingy or very tight with their money and We talked about patient and I guess it’s very easy… A lot of these adjectives that’s easy to flip around, right? You just negate that. So how would you say someone that’s impatient? 没耐性 没耐性, right? So 耐性, 没耐性, 有耐性, 没耐性 Now, I wanna talk about something… I guess a lot of learners might use incorrectly, and that’s he or she’s a really boring person. And I guess you kind of wanna say 他是一个无聊的人 But again, like 讨厌, it’s not clear what’s going on there. And after… actually the wrong phrase right? So how… what’s the best way to say he’s a really boring person? 无趣,” 无 ” 是 ” 没有 “,” 趣 ” 是喜…… ” 趣味、好玩 ” 所以 ” 无趣 ” 就是这个人…… 你在他身上连一点好玩的东西都找不到。 No fun, right? This person’s no fun. 他是一个很无趣的人。 How about someone that’s a bit… you know… They’re not boring. They’re not 坏心眼. They’re not evil. They’re just a bit awkward to hang out with. 哦,难相处 Okay, quite literal, right? Difficult to hang out with. 对,” 难相处 ” 就是人跟人在一起嘛,很难跟他在一起。 Then can we say the reverse? 好相处 好,可以,他是一个好相处的人。 So that’s… that would be the best translation actually for someone that’s easygoing right? We often wanna find the right word for easygoing So how… how do you say that one more time? So 相处… Let’s clarify those sounds for our users. Okay, 相是 x-i-a-n-g, 第一声,/xiāng/ 处,c-h-u, 第三声,/chǔ/ 相处
对,很好 Alright, let’s end with two… just two final bad traits. Both start with the word big. So big-headed and a big mouth. 好,第一个 Big-headed 要反过来讲 他是一个很自大的人 很自大, so self-big, right? Someone that inflates their… themselves is 他是一个很 Right. Big-headed. And how about big mouth? And I guess you guys can guess this. It’s quite literal… 大嘴巴 大嘴巴 他是一个很大嘴巴的人。 Now we’ve talked about some good traits, we’ve talked about some bad traits. Let’s talk about some culturally ambiguous traits. Now, what do I mean by that? I mean, maybe one culture sees as a positive and the other might see as a negative. Again, these are not fixed, right? You guys can be the judge of that. But we’re going to talk about some… Kinda bit more interesting traits So let’s start with what I think is quite interesting and that is Gullible So someone that kinda believes anything that whatever you say, right? 中文叫做 ” 老实 ” 老实, but that’s a very positive trait I would say. 在中文里面你说一个人老实其实没有……没有不好的意思 大概没有,但是好像你希望他小心别人,不要被骗。 有点觉得他有点可爱,有点可怜那样的意思。 So most often you’ll hear in that context like Constance, 你太老实了。 Yeah, 对,很容易被骗。 Right? So, this is one of those cases where it’s definitely …is it a compliment? 呃,不……不能算是。对,只能说是他就是这样子, 所以你希望他能够小心、注意一点。 Now talking about 小心, that can also be used to describe someone, right? 他是一个很小心的人 Now, you guys can be the judge whether that’s kinda good, bad… might not just be culturally ambiguous. It might be that… these traits can be seen as good or bad. Now, how about someone’s very serious? 严肃,严肃 严肃, right? Some’s very… 那如果你是一个……一个……一个科学家, 一个政治人物,可能你严肃一点很好。 但是如果你是一个小学老师或者是你是一个 卖……卖东西的……开……做生意的人, 你太严肃可能就不好。所以很…… So serious again, it depends on maybe, you know, if you are a politician, well, this is a good trait. Maybe if you’re a primary school teacher, don’t be so serious. Now I want to talk about one… we talked about 外向, as an extrovert. So can you guys guess what an introvert is? 内向 内向,that’s right. And again, it’s up to you guys whether you think it’s a positive or a negative trait. I feel like recently it’s kind of. …you know, the era of the geeks, the introvert… This is like really cool at the moment… But I don’t know I feel like in Mandarin when you say someone’s…他很内向, it’s not a bad thing. It’s just like… they’re quite shy. But I feel like in English, if you say he’s quite an introvert. He’s an introvert. It’s… it’s a bit… 对,如果在中文你说一个人内向,没有…… 没有特别不好的意思。特别如果……对一个女孩, 比较内向,大概没有什么问题。 Alright. And then, I just wanna end on one, final one. And it’s a trait that is very respected I feel in Chinese culture. And that is someone that is hard-working. 认真. Now I’m not saying this is a bad trait in Western culture, but I feel like… you know, your work ethic… it’s almost… I feel like… sometimes being hard-working is valued even a bit more than maybe being creative or all these different other traits. So can we have that one more time? 勤劳,q-i-n, /qín/, 第二声,劳是 l-a-o, 第二声,勤劳 And? That’s like… that’s very… 认真,how to describe this? It’s kinda like very serious… 勤劳啊,almost feel like…
Yeah, 其实 ” 认真 ” 跟 ” 严肃 ” 要小心,因为 ” 严肃 ” 常常就有一点太认真的感觉, 那 ” 认真 ” 就是一般的,他的态度很好。 So someone’s very serious at work. I would say 认真
认真,对 But someone that’s very stern maybe… Someone that is very stern, you know… Got also a serious face, you would say 严肃
太认真,对,严肃 Alright, guys. We hope you find today’s QingWen useful We’ve talked about some positive personality traits, some negative ones, some… somewhat ambiguous ones. And we hope it will help you describe people what are you talking about? Bad people or some very nice people, alright? And now of course there are so many more personality traits And we would love to hear your questions or maybe different personality traits you would like to share with fellow ChinesePod users. So go to Our new forum That’s right. forum.chinesepod.com to share… click – Here, here, there, somewhere.
– There, there, there Click on our new forum to share your thoughts on this topic. If you have any other questions, do feel free to email myself or Constance. And if that wasn’t enough for you, next week, we’ll have a more advanced QingWen where we talk about these personality traits in more detail and we use higher quality vocabulary. Alright, we’ll see you guys next week. 我们下次见,再见。


  1. Great video guys. A practice at the end would be great as well. I also think Constance speaking speed is perfect and I am a lower-intermediate mandarin learner.

  2. 老师好。 你们很聪明的人。 你们很了不起。我是美国人。我在电脑学习普通话和中文。 谢谢

  3. 太好了!我应该再看三四次!Really excellent. Constance 说话说的那么快!我觉得我自己真笨!我得听快一点或者我长听不懂!Very cool. Thanks so much.

  4. how about: describing someone who is too sexual? too dreamy? playful? full of self-confidence? conscientious? open-minded? Agreeable? Neurotic? Funny?

  5. Thanks from Beijing! I've lived in China for 12 years and am always trying to improve…will check back in!

  6. 他是一個。。。的人
    有耐性 / 有耐心=Patient
    大方=Generous/ Easy- manners
    活潑= Lively
    壞心眼=Evil (真的?假的怎麼樣心神跟眼睛是一樣?)
    難相處=Hard to get along with
    好相處=easy going
    大嘴巴=big mouth/ gossipers

  7. oh my god! I think I just find a lil interest to learn chinese again! 😃😃 thank u~ Ive been off 4 such a long time..

  8. I listened to Chinesepod back in the day with Ken, John, and Jenny! Good to see they're still going strong and making quality material!

  9. How would you say "frank" (someone who says exactly what they think, regardless of whether others like it or not) in Chinese? And what about "humble/modest" (someone who doesn't like to boast about their own abilities or possessions)? I cannot find the right expressions in any dictionary. Thanks in advance!

  10. That kind of terms definatios are very intersting thing I like it so much your expain of your parts but this is for you my adorable Fiona Never changing your looks, you look like so much pretty in naturals apariences thanks so much to Help me in that

  11. No one in China say 乐天 ,but 开心的人 is v common. 有耐心的人,not 有耐性的人 ! 他很有耐性. 有耐性的人 is wrong grammar. Please correct.

  12. FANTASTIC…….! I have learned basic Chinese ( Mandarin ) 10 years a ago, left for Beijing and stayed there for 2 years and it was a GREAT help ….BUT now…I have been inspirit once again and Learned so much from you 2 ……..Thank you ……my age is 75 now and still Learning…(Lao Wan Tong ) New Zealand Version hehehehe

  13. It's always a much-needed confidence boost when I realize I can understand all of what Constance is saying 🙂 I think her current speed is fine.

  14. Constance is the perfect Chinese contributor to these cultural/ linguistic expressions that targets the more subtle nuances of the language. Please continue your excellent lessons with Constance by your side.

  15. Recently there is a new Chinese Internet slang 社会 to describe a very sociable or mentally mature person.😂


  17. Thank you. I continue to learn a lot from your videos. Could you talk about 氣質. I am confused on what it exactly refers to.
    From the bottom of my heart, I wish you both well.

  18. 6:11 活泼 should be translated as “lively, active”, which would make better sense than “bubbly” in this context. The host also mentioned lively herself. 9:56/10:05 should be 相处, maybe it’s because of the font that the subtitle used, but the character 处 looked like 夂+人, not 夂+卜.

  19. I wonder… would 凯朗 be seen as positive or negative? As always, thanks for the very nice lesson.

  20. So, if you want to say: he is a person who knows how to save—-他是一个节约的人。
    A better way to say: he is a person who is very sociable is: 他是一个很会社交的人。 “活泼,外向” are two words to describe someone's personalities, while sociable is a word to describe someone's ability. if someone is very outgoing, it doesn't make him/her a sociable person.

  21. For “sociable”, I think you can say, “很擅长社交” or “喜欢交朋友”. I don’t quite agree with your explanation of “sociable” as “活泼” and “外向”.

    Although this has different meaning, but you can use “无聊” to describe a person, for instance “你这个人很无聊耶”.
    Thanks, just personal ideas.

  22. I was surprised you guys missed 文弱, I hear it all the time to describe kind of the ideal "subdued" woman/wife, I know it's kind of sexist and dated but Chinese people still use it A LOT

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