quotes in chinese

12 Inspirational Quotes in Chinese to Help You Keep Calm and Carry On

Have you been feeling down in the dumps lately?

Life can be pretty rough at times, which can make it hard for us to remain positive 100% of the time.

But as the saying goes, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

It is expressions like this that remind us that the bumps in the road we sometimes face can be overcome.

So whether you need some motivation to overcome an obstacle in your Mandarin studies, or simply need words of encouragement to carry on, we have got some uplifting quotes in Chinese to get you through these tough times!

What You Can Learn from Chinese Quotes and Proverbs

Before we dive in, let’s go over all the reasons why it is beneficial for you to learn some famous quotes in Chinese in the first place.

New vocabulary

First and foremost, proverbs are opportunities to pick up new terms that might not appear in a typical Mandarin lesson or a textbook. Additionally, many quotes also include chengyu or Chinese idioms.

Chengyu are a natural part of everyday speech where Chinese speakers use color-specific idioms to describe everyday situations, as well as phrases about love to describe beauty and feelings.

Essentially, chengyu are language tidbits that will improve your overall Mandarin skills. They are also absolutely necessary if you want to communicate well with native speakers.

Chinese core values

Chinese adages reveal certain beliefs that are unique to Chinese culture. Some of the core values that have existed for centuries include harmony and benevolence, which are reflected in Laozi and Confucian proverbs.

All in all, these sayings have been passed down from generation to generation to offer insight into the wisdom that is so deeply rooted in Chinese culture.

A sense of universality

While no two cultures share the exact same set of values, we all have more in common with each other than we may think. Proverbs may be connected to certain groups, but the universality of the underlying messages manifests in the way that anyone can relate to them on some level.

They are the values that have survived through the centuries, and are the truths that we need and can still apply in this day and age. It is the timelessness of proverbs that gives us the comfort and strength to push forward.

12 Inspirational Quotes in Chinese to Help You Keep Calm and Carry On

There are lots of beautiful Chinese quotes out there! Here are some of our favorites to get you through the obstacles.

Quotes in Chinese About Having Patience

不怕慢, 就怕站。(Bù pà màn, jiù pà zhàn.) — Be not afraid of growing slowly, only of staying still.

 (pà) — to fear, to be afraid
 (màn) — slow
 (zhàn) — to stop, to halt

When literally translated word for word, the saying actually is, “Do not be afraid of slow, only be afraid to stop.”

The main idea here is that the only thing you should fear is staying in one phase and never progressing. No matter how slowly you think you are moving towards a goal, slow progress is always better than no progress at all!

冰冻三尺,非一日之寒。(Bīng dòng sān chǐ, fēi yī rì zhī hán.) — Three feet of ice does not form in a single day.

 (dòng) — to freeze, to feel cold
 ( fēi) — incorrect, not; to not be
 (zhī) — equivalent to ; it, her, him
 (hán) — cold; to tremble

It is true that there is a lot that you can accomplish in a day, but do not be disappointed when you do not see any visible progress.

Progress and growth take time, and it is important to exercise patience with whatever journey you are currently on.

欲速则不达。 (Yù sù zé bù dá.) — Haste will not get you anywhere.

 (yù) — appetite, passion; to desire
 (sù) — fast, rapid; velocity
 (zé) — but, then; norm, standard; to imitate
 (dá) — to attain, to amount to

Literally meaning, “Want something in haste but cannot there,” this Chinese quote is emphasizing that speeding up does not mean you will necessarily cross the finish line faster.

We have to stop being in a rush all the time, and stop looking for instant gratification. It is better that you take your time so that your progress is nice, steady and consistent.

It is like the saying, “Don’t run before you can walk.”

循序渐进。(Xún xù jiàn jìn.) — Follow the order to gradually move forward.

 (xún) — to adhere to, to abide by
 (xù) — order, sequence
 (jiàn) — gradual; gradually
 (jìn) — to go forward, to advance

Just like you would not skip ahead when following a recipe, take things one step at a time in whatever you are trying to accomplish. Trying to yield faster results for the sake of convenience will not do you any good.

Quotes in Chinese About Perseverance

万事开头难。 (Wàn shì kāi tóu nán.) — The first step is the hardest.

万事 (wànshì) — all things
 (kāi) — to start, to establish
 (tóu) — head, top, beginning, end, first

Whether you are thinking about taking up a new language or transitioning into a healthier lifestyle, just the idea of getting started can be quite intimidating. We often find excuses for not taking on anything new in our lives.

Although once we get over our fears of taking risks, we will realize that the biggest hurdle is letting ourselves to be vulnerable to mistakes, and accepting that failure is all part of growth.

一口吃不成胖子。 (Yī kǒu chī bù chéng pàng zi.) — One mouthful will not make a fat man.

 (chéng) — to finish, to accomplish, to turn into

Here is a quote that is very similar to, “Rome was not built in a day.”

While the saying is about not expecting quick results, my personal interpretation is that one setback will not ruin your progress entirely.

熟能生巧。 (Shú néng shēng qiǎo.) — Experience can breed skill.

 (shú) — experience, practice
 (qiǎo) — skill; skilled; timely

Though some people are naturally gifted, the truth is that practice makes perfect. You have to put the time and work in if you want to master anything, may that be Mandarin Chinese, a technical skill or an artistic pursuit.

今日事,今日毕。 (Jīn rì shì, jīn rì bì.) — Today’s task is for today to complete.

 (bì) — to complete; finished

Procrastination is a widely shared setback. Many of us have a tendency to put off even the simplest tasks because we are either not in the mood, or the task itself is not enjoyable. Leaving everything to the last minute does not do anything for you in the long run, except build bad habits.

Thus, if you set out to accomplish something for the day, then get it done, or at least, get as much of it done as time permits.

Quotes in Chinese About the Importance of Learning

授人以鱼不如授之以渔。 (Shòu rén yǐ yú bù rú shòu zhī yǐ yú.) — Giving a man a fish is not equal to teaching him how to fish.

(shòu) — to teach, to award, to give
(yǐ) — to use; by means of
不如 (bù rú) — inferior to, not as good as
(yú) — to fish; fisherman

We all know the adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Many have contested the origin of the quote, with some arguing it originated from this particular Chinese proverb and others saying it came from the Native Americans or elsewhere.

No matter where that quote in English comes from, there is this universal notion that the Chinese and non-Chinese observe; that there is a greater value in being taught or in learning than just receiving a handout.

学习是永远跟随主人的宝物。 (Xué xí shì yǒng yuǎn gēn suí zhǔrén de bǎo wù.) — Learning is a treasure that always follows its owner.

永远 (yǒng yuǎn) — eternal; forever
跟随 (gēn suí) — to follow

No matter how mundane or tedious it can sometimes be when acquiring new skills, everything you learn will follow you for the rest of your life. Even if you are not currently studying, you never actually stop learning, which is a privilege you should always cherish and treasure.

不入虎穴,焉得虎子? (Bù rù hǔxué, yān dé hǔ zǐ?) — If you do not enter the tiger’s den, how will you get the tiger cub?

(yān) — how, where
(dé) — to obtain, to gain; suitable; finished

You have likely heard the mottoes, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” and, “No pain, no gain.”

Although no one in their right mind would actually enter a tiger’s den, the main idea here is that you will never get anywhere in life if you do not take the risk. Nothing will happen if you always stay in your comfort zone!

书是随身携带的花园。 (Shū shì suí shēn xié dài de huā yuán.) — A book is a garden you carry around with you.

随身 (suí shēn) — to carry on one’s person
携带 (xié dài) — to take along

This is by far one of the most beautiful quotes in Chinese I have ever come across. A book can be many things, but I had never compared a book to a garden before, though it completely makes sense. A garden is a place of nurturing, growth and love, and we should never underestimate how much we can learn and grow from reading.


So, keep your chin up!

You will get through your hurdles. And just in case, you can always check out these proverbs for a little more Chinese wisdom!

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