Don’t get yourself in unnecessary troubles – Chinese expression 多一事,不如少一事。

Posted by Grace Feng on May 11, 2013

Don't get yourself in unnecessary troubles - Chinese expression 多一事,不如少一事。Based on your best knowledge, could you please try to figure out what does Chinese expression “多一事,不如少一事。 duō yī shì, bùrú shǎo yī shì。” mean? I’d suggest you to break down the expression into individual words like this first: (more) 一事(one thing),不如(not as good as) 少(less) 一事(one thing)。

Now let’s complete the broken down sentence to get a better picture: it is better to have less things to deal with than more. Then swap “things” with “troubles”. Here we go: it is better to have less troubles to deal with than more. Or, it can also be translated like this: to not get yourself into unnecessary troubles, it’s better to save trouble.

This expression is usually used to persuade others to stay out of something other than get involved. The “something” usually refers to difficult situation and accident that is waiting to be taken care.

I’ll show you how to use it in everyday conversation in the following examples:


jiù dāng nǐ méi kànjiàn, duō yī shì, bùrú shǎo yī shì。


Pretend you didn’t see it, stay out of trouble.


duō yī shì, bùrú shǎo yī shì。 nǐ jiù bùyào guǎn tā le。


Please don’t invite trouble.  Just leave him alone.


Can you memorize it now? Please go ahead and practice it in different sentences until you can recall and use it freely.


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9 Responses to “Don’t get yourself in unnecessary troubles – Chinese expression 多一事,不如少一事。”

  1. nothing


    05-11-2013 1:15 pm

    That’s a great phrase Grace, but I wanted to ask, is that how to say “just pretend that…..” 就当…..”? So to say “pretend you didn’t hear” would be “就当你没听见”?


    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      05-11-2013 1:27 pm

      100% correct, 白睿!

      Literally speaking, “就当…..” can be translated as “Just treat it as if…”. So “就当你没听见” means “Just treat it as if you didn’t hear.” or “Pretend you didn’t hear.”

      I think these kind of words come natural to native, but actually is not so obvious for learners. I think I might introduce more words of this kind in the future.

      Thanks 白睿,



      • nothing


        05-13-2013 6:18 pm

        我抱歉进入你们的对话却握从来猜想假装是pretend/to feign。 by the way, which one is most commonly used in daily life “装成” or 假装


        • nothing

          Grace Feng:

          05-13-2013 8:10 pm


          “就当你没听见” and “假装你没听见” are equivalent. 就当 and 假装 can both be used as “pretend to”. Which one is used more often? Probably 就当.

          装成 is not good to be used this way. :-)



  2. nothing


    05-11-2013 1:38 pm

    How about this dialogue as an example of using the expression 多一事,不如少一事:



    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      05-11-2013 6:39 pm

      Hehe… 白睿, did you make this up? That’s very creative!!

      Yes, the way you use this expression in the dialogue is just perfect!!

      I believe your example will be of great help to other readers too, good job!!

      Grace :-)


  3. nothing


    05-12-2013 9:46 am

    呵呵,当然是我创造的Grace!:D 我想来想去可是,想不通造一句话,始终只好造出对话来用这个俗语。


  4. nothing


    05-13-2013 2:03 pm

    I just discovered your website and I’m so glad I did! I can’t wait to come back and learn more! :D

    I have been living in Guangzhou for the past 13 years, but I never studied Chinese so I still feel i have a lot to learn!


    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      05-13-2013 4:45 pm

      Be my guest, Alysa :-)

      13 years in Guangzhou! I bet your listening comprehension might be at a high level to start with? Feel free to drop me questions or suggestions. And most important of all, I hope this site could make your language learning a bit more enjoyable. :-)



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