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What Do English and Chinese Proverbs Have in Common?

Updated on November 10, 2020
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As far as some proverbs are concerned, I find that there are similarities between English and Chinese even though the cultures are very much different. It is interesting to compare the two. Almost all Chinese proverbs can be expressed in just four words. Take a look at some of the marvelous examples:

Killing two birds with one stone.

Chinese equivalent: 一箭双雕.

Literally: Killing two eagles with an arrow.

Don't teach your grandmother to suck milk.

Chinese equivalent: 班们弄斧.

Literally: To show off your skills in front of an expert.

As close as a clam.

Chinese equivalent: 一毛不拔.

Literally: Not pulling even a hair.

As plain as a nose on one's face.

Chinese equivalent:一目了然

Literally: It is clear at a glance.

Love at first sight.

Chinese equivalent: 一见倾心

Literally: The heart inclines at first sight.

To carry off with a smile.

Chinese equivalent:一笑置之.

To owe one a day in the harvest.

Chinese equivalent: 一饭之恩.

Literally: The favor of a meal.

As like as two peas.

Chinese equivalent: 一模一样.

Literally: Exactly the same.

To hang by a thread.

Chinese equivalent: 一发千钧

Literally: Hanging forty thousand pounds with a thread of hair.

A drop in a bucket. .

Chinese equivalent: 九牛一毛.

Literally: A thread of hair from nine oxen.

All things to all men.

Chinese equivalent: 八面玲珑.

Literally: Octagonal porcelain vase.

A wolf in sheep's clothing.

Chinese equivalent: 人面兽心.

Literally: The face of a man but a heart of a beast.

Putting the cart before the horse.

Chinese equivalent: 本末倒置.

Literally: Putting the root at the top of a tree.

Silence is golden, speech is silver.

Chinese equivalent: 沉默是金.

You made your bed, now lie in it.

Chinese equivalent: 自作自受.

Literally: One is responsible for what he has done.

You make a mountain of a mole-hill.

Chinese equivalent: 小题大作.

Literally: Writing a long essay on a minor subject.

Where there's a will there's a way.

Chinese equivalent: 有志者, 事竟成.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Chinese equivalent: 以牙还牙.

Literally: A tooth for a tooth.

It's never too late to mend.

Chinese equivalent: 亡羊补牢.

Literally: To mend a fence when a sheep is killed.

A burnt child dreads fire.

Chinese equivalent: 惊弓之鳥.

Literally: A bird dreads a bow.

Prevention is better than cure.

Chinese equivalent: 预防胜于治疗.

Strike while the iron is hot.

Chinese equivalent: 打铁趁热

When in Rome do as the Romans do.

Chinese equivalent: 入乡随俗.

Literally: To follow the customs when one enters a village.

Blood is thicker than water.

Chinese equivalent: 血浓于水.

A leopard cannot change its spots.

Chinese equivalent: 本性难移.

Literally: It is difficult to change one's character.

Between a rock and a hard place.

Chinese equivalent: 进退两难.

Literally: Either advancing or retreating is difficult.

You can't have your cake and eat it.

Chinese equivalent: 鱼与熊掌.

Literally: It is difficult to have a fish and a bear's paw at the same time.


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