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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