Learn one Chinese idiom, one Chinese sentence pattern by reading one joke in Chinese [Beginner]

Posted by Grace Feng on January 17, 2013

Learn one Chinese idiom, one Chinese sentence pattern by reading one joke in Chinese [Beginner]January is always a busy month after holidays. That makes me think that probably we should do some light weight learning with a touch of humour to make our day more delightful. How about we start by learning one Chinese idiom and one Chinese sentence pattern before we read a joke (which is a really short one)?

I will explain the vocabulary you might encounter in the joke too. So when you start to read the joke, I recommend you to read all through without any look up. At the end of the joke, ask yourself whether you get it.

As it’s labeled in the title, this post is specifically for beginners, other level readers are also welcomed to test your Chinese reading on the joke.

OK now, the idiom we’ll learn today is 一无所知 yīwúsuǒzhī . Literarilly, it means “one not know”. It’s actual meaning is “know nothing about”. Then how can we use it in real life conversation? Well, this is where the sentence pattern can help you with:


… 对 … 一无所知 (… duì … yīwúsuǒzhī)

(someone) knows nothing about (something)


A very simple example goes like this:


wǒ duì nǐ yīwúsuǒzhī.


I know nothing about you.


If we break them down, you’ll see the sentence pattern is used in this way:


我 + + 你 + 一无所知.


Is that clear?

For beginners, you might also need to know “one RMB dollar” in Chinese is “一元 yīyuán“;

如果 rúguǒ” means “if”;

算术 suànshù” means “math”;

才 cái” means “really” in this context.

向…要… xiàng … yào …” means “ask (something) from (somebody)”.

OK then, are you ready now? If yes, try to read the joke all by yourself. No peeking in your dictionary. Just try your best. In the end, see if you can get it. Have fun, my friends!


[simplified Chinese]






[tradiational Chinese]








” rúguǒ nǐ yǒu yīyuán qián, yòu xiàng fùqīn yào le liǎng yuán, nà nǐ yī gòngyǒu duōshao qián?”

” yīyuán。”

” nǐ duì suànshù zhēn shì yīwúsuǒzhī。”

” nǐ duì wǒ bàba cái yīwúsuǒzhī。”


“Say you have one dollar. You ask your Dad to give you another two dollars. Then how much money you have in total?”

“One dollar.”

“You really know nothing about math.”

“No, you really know nothing about my Dad.”


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6 Responses to “Learn one Chinese idiom, one Chinese sentence pattern by reading one joke in Chinese [Beginner]”

  1. nothing


    01-17-2013 6:15 pm



  2. nothing


    01-19-2013 3:24 am

    It’s very useful to have examples of usage when learning new words and phrases. Could you perhaps give one or two more examples of when might use 一无所知?


    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      01-19-2013 5:33 am

      Two more examples:

      对西方文化, 她一无所知.
      As for western culture, she knows nothing about it.

      He knows nothing about Chinese language.

      I can’t think of any example that does not use “对…一无所知” sentence pattern. So if you want to use this idiom, use it in this sentence pattern too please.

      Is this clear enough now, John?


      • nothing


        01-19-2013 3:10 pm



  3. nothing

    Thomas Doherty:

    05-21-2013 8:46 pm

    Could you have used zhēn shì instead of cái in the last sentence or was cái required ( and in English translation you could have the “No” at the beginning of the last sentence ) ?


    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      05-22-2013 5:29 pm

      Good question, Tom!

      Using zhēn shì in the second sentence is grammatically correct. But it doesn’t emphasize the turning of meaning. Using cái implies “The silly one is not me, BUT you!”

      The fact follows cái is usually the total opposite of the assumption based on previous facts.


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