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Expressions: Chengyu and Suyu

Learn Chinese in China

Chengyu 成语

Chengyu are four-character fixed-phrases that provide the Chinese with a concise method of expressing certain ideas or axioms. They are idiomatic expressions that can be used in everyday speech, generally as adjectives 形容词 Xingrongci or adverbs 副词 fuci. When used properly, they can contribute immensely to the lucidity of a piece of writing or to the quality of a conversation, as they are evidence of a person’s advanced command of the language. Chengyu are similar to English idiomatic expressions, and in many cases there are common expressions in one language that can also be conveyed by an expression in the other. For example, in English we often talk about "killing two birds with one stone" Chinese has the Chengyu "一箭双雕 yi jian shuang diao" which means "one arrow two birds." Unlike English expressions, Chengyu are fun to learn because behind every expression a story is the source of meaning.

All Chengyus

Here you get an overview over different chengyus.


Suyu 俗语 are another type of proverb commonly used in spoken Chinese. Click here to continue learning about the tradition behind oral Chinese.

Distinctions Between Chengyu and Suyu

Chengyu and Suyu are both colloqial forms of expression. They both consist of fixed figures of speech. Click here to learn more about the distinction between these two forms of idiom.