Essential Chengyu: Are Chengyu Key to Becoming Fluent? 理所当然了!

To kick off our blog, we’re doing a series of articles to help Chinese learners master the most commonly used chengyu( 成语), which are idiomatic expressions consisting of 4 characters. Though they’re usually only 4 characters long, they carry a wealth of meaning and are key to becoming truly fluent in Chinese!

If you are tired of saying 当然 (which means “obviously” or “of course”), then we have a new expression for you, which basically means the same thing but adds more emphasis: 理所当然  (lǐ suǒ dāng rán). 理所当然 sounds like “to go without saying” or “as a matter of course,” but literally means that “according to reason, it should be the case.”

A breakdown of the characters in 理所当然:

理 (lǐ):reason / logic / truth (eg. 理性,真理)

所 (suǒ):particle expressing emphasis

当 (dāng):proper or appropriate (eg. 应当)

然 (rán):this way or like this (eg. 显然,忽然,然后)

Observing理所当然 “in the wild” shows that it is a very flexible word that can be used in multiple ways.

1)      就~了: “it’s obvious/natural”

“Is it just natural that girls will hurt guys?”


nǚrén shānghài nánrén jiù ~ le ma?

2)      是~的: “it’s an obvious/natural (thing)”

“…based on Nadal’s performance level in the match, defeat was a matter of course”


“…yǐ nà dá ěr zài bǐsài zhōng biǎo xiànchū lái de shuǐpíng ,luò bài shì ~de”

3)      ~的事: “obvious/natural things”

“Some things which are obvious or natural in the course of a marriage…”


“。。。zài hūnyīn zhōng de yīxiē ~de shì 。。。”

4)      ~地: “as a matter of course” or “naturally”

“We all believe as a matter of course…”


wǒmen hěnduō rén dōu ~de rèn wèi 。。。

We hope that this will help you spice up your conversations with some 理所当然!

Over to you – any questions or any chengyu you would like us to cover in the future? What are your favorite go-to chengyu?

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