How to use Chinese idiom 半信半疑 and 半推半就?

Posted by Grace Feng on March 2, 2012

How to use Chinese idiom 半信半疑 and 半推半就?Before we start, can we do a quick quiz first? In today’s world, if you get a piece of important information from a stranger, what is your thought on the information? Believe it completely? Or don’t believe a single word of it? Or half-believe and half-doubt?

I believe most of you would choose the last one. So you want to tell your Chinese friend about a breaking news you overheard from a homeless man on your way home. You want to say you’re dubious about what you heard.

Can you describe it in a concise manner? Yes, you can, use Chinese idiom 半信半疑 (bàn xìn bàn yí). You can use it in the following sentence pattern:

wǒ duì tā shuō dehuà bànxìnbànyí.


I’m dubious about what he said.

[mp3j track=”ban-xin-ban-yi.mp3″]

Maybe you’ve notice the appearance of two “半 (bàn)” in the idiom. While you’re learning this idiom, it’s a good opportunity to introduce another “half half” idiom – 半推半就 (bàn tuī bàn jiù).

推 (tuī) means “decline”, 就 (jiù) means “compromise”. 半推半就 (bàn tuī bàn jiù) means “half-decline, half-accept”. It is actually a very “Chinese” word. I can’t find an equivalent word in English. It means to accept other people’s offer or wooing in a hidden way. A person that seemingly to decline, yet deep down wants to accept. Why this person would do this? To pretend he/she is decent or noble enough to not to accept the offer or wooing.

Phew! Hope I’ve made it easier for you to understand. Please don’t rely on google translater for this one! Google translator translates it into “half-hearted”, it’s just another joke.

The following example might help you to better understand this idiom:

nà wèi jīnglǐ duì kèhù sòng de lǐ bàn tuī bàn jiù dì shōu xià le.


The manager accepted the gift from the client after politely declined first.

[mp3j track=”ban-tui-ban-jiu.mp3″]

Got it? If not, feel free to leave your question in the comment area, I will answer you in 24 hours.

Good night my friend, hope you had a wonderful day!

See you next time!


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Category: Chinese idioms

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5 Responses to “How to use Chinese idiom 半信半疑 and 半推半就?”

  1. nothing


    03-02-2012 11:08 am

    Good stuff Grace! The first idiom was fairly obvious but I have to admit I’d not heard the second idiom before.

    You are right about Google translate!


    • nothing


      03-02-2012 2:52 pm

      Thanks Barry, there will be more practical idioms and expressions to come, stay tuned…


  2. nothing


    03-03-2012 10:41 am

    Keep the idioms coming….I like them! Oh, my Oxford Chinese dictionary says 半信半疑 should be translated as “yield with a show of reluctance”, which sounds correct.


  3. nothing


    03-03-2012 12:06 pm

    不好意思,我应该写‘半推半就’的意思是”yield with a show of reluctance”.


    • nothing


      03-03-2012 8:17 pm

      Barry, 牛津字典的解释是正确而且精炼的. 谢谢你的补充! :-)



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