The favorite love vows – Chinese idiom 天荒地老, 海枯石烂

Posted by Grace Feng on March 18, 2012

The favorite love vows - Chinese idiom 天荒地老, 海枯石烂Imagine when the sky disappeared and the land became old; when the sea dried up and all stones eroded away, how long would that take? Millions of years? Or billions of years? There’s a Chinese idiom 天荒地老, 海枯石烂 (tiān huāng dì lǎo, hǎi kū shí làn) does imply that long period of time, in another word, an eternity. See? 天荒 means the sky disappears, 地老 means the land becomes old, 海枯 means the sea become dry, 石烂 means stones are all rotten. Seriously, will they ever?  But the point is if it’s possible and when it happens it has to be a super long time later.

Now the question is can we use this idiom in any situations to symbolize a very long time? The answer is no, this idiom is mostly used in love vows and alike to show long lasting love or emotion. If you use it to explain how long delay your project will be to your Chinese clients, they might get choked. :-) Only use it in your love letter to your lovers please. If you’re reading Chinese articles, you might encounter this idiom in romance literature often.

the two parts of this idiom can be used separately as well. So you might only see the appearance of one part of the idiom: either 天荒地老 or 海枯石烂 in some articles.

Now I’ll give you some examples to show you how to use this idiom:

wǒ huì ài nǐ ài dào tiān huāngdì lǎo, hǎikūshílàn.

我会爱你爱到天荒地老, 海枯石烂.

I will love you till the sky disappear

[mp3j track=”tian-huang-di-lao-e1.mp3″]



jiùsuàn tiān huāngdì lǎo, hǎikūshílàn, wǒmen dōu bùhuì fēnkāi.

就算天荒地老, 海枯石烂, 我们都不会分开.

We will be together till eternity.

[mp3j track=”tian-huang-di-lao-e2.mp3″]

Try search for this idiom in www.baidu.com and see if you could understand the sentences you found. What kind of love messages it tries to express.

Enjoy your Sunday night, my dear friends. See you next time!


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Category: Chinese idioms

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