Three Chinese idioms about people relationships: 人情世故, 左右逢源, 面面俱到

Posted by Grace Feng on March 13, 2012

Three Chinese idioms about people relationships: 人情世故, 左右逢源, 面面俱到Isn’t it true that relationships, connections and networking are especially important in China? Yes, those kind of things are important anywhere of the world. Yet in china they are even more critical if you not only want to survive but also want to blossom in that society.

Well, at least you can start with learning the following three high frequency Chinese idioms to get your learning process started on the 关系 (relationships) culture of China:

人情世故 rén qíng shì gù : worldly wisdom, to know how to deal with the relationships between people

左右逢源 zuǒ yòu féng yuán : literally, it means to get water source from every side (idiom); it really means slick operator who can derive benefit from any situation. It’s mostly used as positively, depends on who you use it on, sometimes it can be negative.

面面俱到 miàn miàn jù dào : Take care of everything; handle every side of it perfectly. It used to describe a very competent person in handling things. The underneath layer of this phrase’s meaning is: be good at making everyone happy. It’s mostly used as positively, depends on who you use it on, sometimes it can be negative.

Even if you don’t have the need to survive in China, you may learn Chinese for self development or simply for fun, you still need to understand this kind of Chinese idioms to comprehend Chinese articles about people. The truth is language learning can not be conducted separately from culture learning. It makes no use if languages are learned only as communication symbols outside of a culture body. Do you agree?

OK, now. Let’s have a look at the following examples to see how the three Chinese idioms are used:

xiǎo zhōu shì gè hěn jīngtōng rénqíngshìgù de rén. tā zuòshì shí zǒngnéng zuǒyòuféngyuán, miànmiànjùdào.

小周是个很精通 人情世故的人.  她做事时总能左右逢源, 面面俱到.

Xiao Zhou is a person with very good worldly wisdom. She always knows how to benefit from every side and at the same time make everyone happy.

[mp3j track=”zuo-you-feng-yuan-e1.mp3″]


huì shuōhuà, shànyú jiāowǎng de rén, cáinéng zuǒyòuféngyuán, bǎ shēngyi zuò hǎo.

会说话, 善于交往的人,才能左右逢源,  把生意做好.

The people that are good at expressing themselves and socializing, would be able to benefit from all sides around them and make their business prosper.

[mp3j track=”zuo-you-feng-yuan-e2.mp3″]


Take your time to practice these three idioms. Once you’re done, copy them in www.baidu.com to search for Chinese sentences with them in. See if you can understand what you see.


Related posts:

A Chinese idiom that is used on a crowd - 争先恐后
How to understand and use Chinese expression 顾左右而言它?
A Chinese idiom that used to encourage people to work hard and persist on their pursuit - 任重道远


Category: Chinese idioms

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