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!

We also hope that you’ll spice up your language learning with FluentU!

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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