14 Chinese Proverbs About Love for the Romantic Learner
Whether we’re deep in the throes of a passionate romance, cruising for our next crush or helping a friend recover from a difficult breakup, love is often on our minds.
So, why not add some romantic vocabulary to your Chinese language repertoire by studying Chinese proverbs about love?
Learning about Chinese proverbs can illuminate a piece of classical literature or teach you about historical beliefs and customs.
These will also enrich your vocabulary and add nuance to the romantic ideas you want to express.
Get started with the following list of 14 Chinese proverbs and phrases about love!
- Chinese Proverbs and Phrases About Beauty
- Chinese Proverbs and Phrases About Types of Love
- Chinese Proverbs and Phrases About Heartache
- 9. 一刀两断 (yì dāo liǎng duàn)
- 10. 耳听为虚，眼见为实 (ěr tīng wéi xū, yǎn jiàn wéi shí)
- 11. 肝肠寸断 (gān cháng cùn duàn)
- 12. 有情饮水饱，无情食饭饥 (yǒu qíng yǐn shuǐ bǎo, wú qíng shí fàn jī)
- 13. 没有人值得你为他流泪，值得让你这么做的人不会让你哭泣 (méi yǒu rén zhí dé nǐ weì tā liú lèi, zhí dé ràng nǐ zhè me zuò de rén bú huì ràng nǐ kū qì)
- 14. 守得云开见月明 (shǒu dé yún kāi jiàn yuè míng)
- And One More Thing...
Chinese Proverbs and Phrases About Beauty
These phrases should help you get started expressing love and attraction. Add them to your vocabulary to improve your flirting in Chinese.
1. 一见钟情 (yí jiàn zhōng qíng)
English: Love at first sight
The translation of this Chinese saying is very similar in English. 一见 means “first sight” or “first time meeting you,” and 钟情 means “fall in love.” The phrase doesn’t necessarily have to be about a person.
2. 各花入各眼 (gè huā rù gè yǎn)
English: Different flowers match different eyes
How do we account for why one person might catch our eye while another doesn’t? If you can’t explain why someone stands out from the crowd, you can simply say 各花入各眼.
Literally, 各花 means “each flower,” 入 means “goes into” and 各眼 means “each eye.”
3. 沉鱼落雁闭月羞花 (chén yú luò yàn bì yuè xiū huā)
English: Sinking fish, falling goose, hiding the moon, shaming the flowers
This particular Chinese proverb refers to China’s historical four great beauties. Each of the four beauties has a different story, and at least one is a fictional character.
The four parts of 沉鱼落雁闭月羞花 refer to each beauty: one whose looks can make a fish stop swimming and sink, one who can make a goose stop flying and fall out of the sky, one who can make the moon hide behind the clouds and one who can shame even the flowers.
沉鱼落雁闭月羞花 can be used as one long phrase, or you can convey the same meaning by using select parts of the saying. So, it’s okay to just say 闭月羞花 or 沉鱼落雁 if you want to shorten the proverb.
Chinese Proverbs and Phrases About Types of Love
Now that you’ve hooked the object of your affection through your clever use of Chinese proverbs, you can let your love grow. Whether you hold on loosely or fall deep into a passionate affair, there are several ways we can convey the type and depth of our romantic relationships.
4. 有缘千里来相会 (yǒu yuán qiān lǐ lái xiāng huì)
English: Fate/destiny has us meet from a thousand miles away
有缘 is something connected by fate or karma. This romantic sentiment can be found on posters and in cards, indicating the idea that your love was meant to be.
5. 一往情深 (yì wǎng qíng shēn)
English: To be deeply attached to
There’s like, there’s love and then there’s deep attachment. The word 情 is a common word for “emotion” or “feeling” that you’ll see in other proverbs and phrases about relationships, while 深 is what makes it a “deep” emotion.
深 can be used literally, as in 深雪 (shēn xuě), which means “deep snow,” or figuratively, as in 深入阅读 (shēn rù yuè dú), which means “read deeply.”
6. 爱屋及乌 (ài wū jí wū)
English: Love the house and its crow
True, long-lasting love means accepting your partner’s imperfections, so you should love the whole house—even the crow sitting on it.
As an added bonus, this one’s nice to say and easy to remember because of the two words that are pronounced wū with a first tone. 屋 means “room” or “house,” and 乌 means “crow,” though when speaking about crows on their own, you’d normally use the longer word 乌鸦 (wū yā).
7. 执子之手，与子偕老 (zhí zǐ zhī shǒu, yǔ zǐ xié lǎo)
English: Hold hands with you, grow old with you
偕 means “in company with” and is found in other words that mean “together,” like 偕同 (xié tóng).
8. 厮守终生 (sī shǒu zhōng shēng)
English: To be together forever
One example of using this phrase would be 两人约定厮守终生 (liǎng rén yuē dìng sī shǒu zhōng shēng), which means “the two agreed to stay together for life.”
Although marriage in China is on the decline, hopefully, there’s someone special out there for those who are looking.
Chinese Proverbs and Phrases About Heartache
Sadly, not all romance leads to a life of bliss. When it comes to heartache, how can we express our pain? Chinese has some great phrases that strike at the heart of the situation.
9. 一刀两断 (yì dāo liǎng duàn)
English: One cut, two pieces
This phrase refers to a romantic breakup.
一刀 here can also mean “one knife” or “one sword,” like in the game titled “ 一刀传世 ” (yì dāo chuán shì) — A Sword Passed Down from Ancient Times. 断 means “to break” or “to snap off.”
For the disillusion of a formal relationship, such as a corporate or political relationship, you can use 断交 (duàn jiāo) instead.
10. 耳听为虚，眼见为实 (ěr tīng wéi xū, yǎn jiàn wéi shí)
English: What you hear, take as false; what you see, take as true
Figuratively, this means “Seeing is believing.”
You might use this phrase to talk about a relationship that went sour because of lies or empty promises.
虚 means “false” here, but it can also mean “empty,” “weak” or “hollow”. 实 is found in many words meaning “real,” “true” or “honest.” 为 is used in several useful grammatical constructions in Chinese, but in both instances in this proverb, it’s a verb that means “to take something as.”
11. 肝肠寸断 (gān cháng cùn duàn)
English: With the liver and bowel broken into inches (pieces)
Even though this idiom references the liver and gut, it’s really describing the feeling of having a broken heart. Let’s all hope that this originated from a figurative description of the feeling rather than some terrible, true ancient story!
We saw 断 in 一刀两断 above, and here again, it refers to a cut. 寸 is an inch here.
You can use this noun in simple sentences such as:
(tā bǐ wǒ gāo liǎng cùn.)
He is two inches taller than me.
12. 有情饮水饱，无情食饭饥 (yǒu qíng yǐn shuǐ bǎo, wú qíng shí fàn jī)
English: With love, water satisfies; without love, food doesn’t make you full.
In the classic “Peanuts” comics, Charles Schulz gave Charlie Brown the line, “Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.” You can now eloquently express the same sentiment in Chinese.
The proverb breaks down into two nicely matching segments: 有情 and 无情 mean that you have or don’t have love respectively, 饮水 and 食饭 mean that you drink water or eat food and 饱 and 饥 mean that you’re satisfied or hungry, respectively.
Learning opposites like this is a great way to expand your vocabulary quickly (though it won’t help you with your romantic problems).
13. 没有人值得你为他流泪，值得让你这么做的人不会让你哭泣 (méi yǒu rén zhí dé nǐ weì tā liú lèi, zhí dé ràng nǐ zhè me zuò de rén bú huì ràng nǐ kū qì)
English: Nobody is worth your tears, and the one who is won’t make you cry
You may have expressed similar sentiments to your friends as they’ve struggled to move on from a breakup.
One of the keywords in building this phrase is 值得, which means “to be worth/to deserve.” Other examples include:
(zhè jiàn xiǎo shì bù zhí dé nǐ dān xīn.)
This little thing isn’t worth your time.
(zài xià yǔ tiān bù zhí dé qù hǎi tān.)
It’s not worth going to the beach on a rainy day.
Another keyword is 让, which means “to let/to allow,” like in the phrase:
(ràng wǒ shì yí shì.)
Let me try.
14. 守得云开见月明 (shǒu dé yún kāi jiàn yuè míng)
English: Watch and the clouds will part to show the moonlight
After one suffers heartbreak, things do get better eventually. Here, 守 tells us to “keep watch” until 云 (the clouds) 开 (open) and we can see the moon’s light.
Learning a few proverbs at a time in contexts that are meaningful to you is the key to mastering the use of chengyu (Chinese idiomatic expressions) in conversation.
If you’re talking to a native Chinese speaker, take the opportunity to try out some of these proverbs and phrases. If you’re studying on your own, consider illustrating the phrases to help you memorize them. If you don’t want to draw them yourself, there are plenty of illustrated Chinese idiom books available for purchase.
To see how romantic proverbs and other common expressions are used in context, there’s also FluentU.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Finally, have fun! Lists of chengyu are meant to serve as a launching pad for exploring the more playful and colorful side of the language–especially if they’re about love.
And One More Thing...
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