Posted by Grace Feng on May 29, 2012
“Up – 上 shàng” and “down –下 xià” are two very basic frequently used Chinese characters that appear in words, phrases and idioms. If I ask the Chinese learners that just started their learning process and have already learned these two words how difficult it is to learn them, it won’t be surprised to hear that it is actually very simple.
However, with your language study progresses into higher level, you’ll slowly discovered that even if you know these two characters inside out, you still might find yourself in a situation that have no idea about what they really mean.
Today I wanna help you with some of their interesting occurrences and hopefully at the end of the post you’ll be able to boost your vocabulary a little.
The very first smart way of engaging 上 and 下 shows in Chinese idiom “seven ups eight downs” – 七上八下 qī shàng bā xià, meaning “feeling fidgeting, anxious, nervous “. You can tell your friends about your feelings before your very first interview after graduation this way :
wǒ jǐnzhāng dé xīnli qīshàngbāxià de.
我紧张得心里七上八下的. (I was so nervous that my heart beat went wild. :-) )
Please be aware, 七上八下 qīshàngbāxià can only be used after 心 xīn or 心里 xīnli .
Guess the above idiom is not that hard to digest. Now let’s have a look at a Chinese word that used the same concept to carve out “nervousness “. This time, all you need to think about is just place 上 and 下 on top of “heart – 心” itself. Like this:
忐忑 ( fidgeting )
It’s almost the same meaning as 七上八下, but can be used directly on people:
wǒ tǎntè dì zuò zàinar.
我忐忑地坐在那儿. (I was sitting there fidgeting.)
Now you might think, what if you’re stuck and can not either go up or go down, is there any words for that? Yes! 不上不下 bù shàng bùxià! You can tell people that your current position in the company is kind of dangled somewhere in the middle – does not belong to the lower rank staff, nor the upper management:
wǒ xiànzài de zhíwèi shì bù shàng bùxià de.
我现在的职位是不上不下的. (My current position is stuck in the middle. )
Or, simply smashing the two characters together into a new character: 卡 kǎ! It means ” got stuck ” !! :-) Could you get it? Don’t you know that Chinese could be very creative sometimes?
tā de shǒu kǎzhù le!
他的手卡住了! (His hand got stuck!)
Now, let me know whether you know any words or idioms that are using 上 or 下 in a fun way…
Category: Chinese vocabulary
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