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To settle a matter by leaving it unsettled – Chinese idiom 不了了之

Posted by Grace Feng on February 16, 2013

To give up on unfinished things - Chinese idiom 不了了之If you’ve been learning Chinese for some time, character “” should be no stranger to you. It appears almost everywhere in a Chinese article as a particle to indicate an action that has taken place or something that has changed. In that sense, it should be pronounced as “le“. Such as “他走了。tā zǒu le。“, meaning “He is gone.

However, there is another way to pronounce it: liǎo. Its usage is changed to be a verb. which means “finish, complete“.

Chinese idiom 不了了之 bùliǎoliǎozhī is a good example to use it this way: 之 zhī means the thing that has not been settled.  不了  bùliǎo means “have not been settled”. 了之 liǎozhī means “settle it”.  To put them together, the idiom is describes “to settle a matter by leaving it unsettled “. I will show you how to use it in the following two examples:

 

因为没有足够的人手,这个工程就这样不了了之了。

yīnwèi méiyǒu zúgòu de rénshǒu, zhège gōngchéng jiù zhèyàng bùliǎoliǎozhī le。

Due to lack of resources, the project was left unsettled.

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没有人提起,这件事就这样不了了之了。

méiyǒu rén tíqǐ, zhè jiàn shì jiù zhèyàng bùliǎoliǎozhī le。

Since no one followed up, it was left unsettled.

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2 Responses to “To settle a matter by leaving it unsettled – Chinese idiom 不了了之”

  1. nothing

    白睿:

    02-16-2013 7:18 pm

    Hi Grace. This is a new one to me! It looks like this phrase is preceded by 就这样…. Is it possible to precede it in any other way? Thanks.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      02-17-2013 3:05 am

      Yes 白睿, it definitely can :-) Although the combination of “就这样不了了之” is used quite frequently.

      Here is an example of another way of using it:

      这个工程拖到最后不了了之了.
      This project was dragged on and on till it was ended unsettled.

      Reply

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