essential-chengyu-familiar-love-story

Essential Chengyu for that familiar love story

Have you heard this love story before?

Two strangers work and live near each other. They’re perfect for each other, but as fate has it, they keep barely missing each other until one moment where they magically meet each other and fall in love.

It turns out there is a chengyu that’s perfect for this situation: 擦肩而过 (cā jiān ér guò).

擦肩而过 (cā jiān ér guò) literally means “to brush shoulders and pass by,” and generally it means to almost come into close contact with someone or something, but then missing it. 擦肩而过 (cā jiān ér guò) can be used for very specific, tangible things (eg. asteroid almost hitting the earth) as well as very abstract things (love and death).

A breakdown of the characters in 擦肩而过 (cā jiān ér guò):

擦 (cā): to brush, rub up against

肩 (jiān): shoulder (as in 肩膀 – jiānbǎng)

而 (ér): conjunction meaning “but” here

过 (guò): to pass by (as in 过去 – guòqù)

Observing 擦肩而过 (cā jiān ér guò) in the wild reveals 2 main usages.

Usage 1) 和 / 与 + Noun + 擦肩而过

Example 1 A)

AMY是一个渴望抓住爱情的女孩,却屡屡和真爱擦肩而过 “

“AMY shì yígè kěwàng zhuāzhù àiqíng de nǚhái, què lǚlǚ hé zhēn’ài cā jiān ér ɡuò “

“AMY is a girl who longs to grasp love, but often barely misses true love”

Example 1 B)

乔布斯感到如释重负,因为自己曾经和死神擦肩而过 “

“qiáobùsī gǎndào rúshìzhòngfù, yīnwèi zìjǐ céngjīng hé sǐshén cā jiān ér ɡuò “

“Jobs felt such a heavy burden because he had previously brushed with death (literally, the “Grim Reaper”) several times”

Example 1 C)

‘”许多人在出生伊始就可能与幸福擦肩而过 “

“xǔduō rén zài chūshēng yīshǐ jiù kěnéng yǔ xìngfú cā jiān ér ɡuò le”

“many people, from the beginning at birth, may have barely missed happiness”

Example 1 D)

“…小行星8日与地球擦肩而过 “

“…xiǎo xíngxīng 8 rì yǔ dìqiú cā jiān ér ɡuò “

“…on the 8th, a small planet almost hit the Earth”

Example 1 E)

在这里,和别人擦肩而过的时候,即使是素不相识的陌生人,大家也会互相打招呼 “

“zài zhèlǐ, hé biérén cā jiān ér ɡuò de shíhou, jíshǐ shì sùbùxiāngshí de mòshēng rén, dàjiā yě huì hùxiāng dǎzhāohu “

“Here, whenever anyone brushes shoulders with someone, even if it’s a complete stranger, everyone will say “hi” to one another”

Usage 2) 擦肩而过 + 的 + Noun

Example 2 A)

周围不乏有女朋友喜欢历数往事,追忆曾擦肩而过的男人 “

“zhōuwéi bùfá yǒu nǚpéngyǒu xǐhuan lìshǔ wǎngshì, zhuīyì céng cā jiān ér ɡuò de nánrén “

“Around (me) there is not a shortage of girlfriends who like to recount their past experiences, and to remember men whom they had barely missed in the past”

Example 2 B)

在繁忙的现代都市生活中,不要让擦肩而过的友谊成为遗憾 “

“zài fánmáng de xiàndài dūshì shēnghuó zhōng, búyào ràng cā jiān ér ɡuò de yǒuyì chéngwéi yíhàn “

“In busy, modern city life, don’t let a barely missed friendship become a regret”

Questions? Comments? Have your own 擦肩而过的经历 (experience) to share? Other chengyu on love or dating you’d like us to cover? Let us know!

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