Lia & Fahad

10 Things All People Who Speak Terrible Mandarin Can Identify With


Some of us aren’t great when it comes to speaking Mandarin.

We hesitate even to say that our Mandarin is okay.

From being unable to say the simplest things like, “thanks for dinner,” to getting laughed at ALL the time for our incredibly broken Mandarin, there’s no lack of reminders of how crappy our skills are.

If you're like me, people are always saying you “jia gan dang” (“only know how to speak English, which in Hokkien, translates to "eat potato,”), you’ll definitely identify with these 10 things:

1. Your words are Chinese, but your grammar is English.

2. There’s a weird accent to your Chinese.

You don’t hear it, but apparently everyone else does.

3. You really want to carry on conversations with your sweet extended family, but you literally cannot.

Like, your vocabulary just will not allow it.

4. You can sort of understand what people are saying, but speaking it is a whole different ball game.

And reading and writing it are just out of the question.

5. You are damn proud of your remaining cheng yus.

You will whip one out for no other reason than that you can still remember it.

6. You will NEVER let people forget your Chinese/Higher Chinese grade.

Those were your glory days. (You also secretly wonder how in the world you managed to pull that off.)

7. Your Chinese is a running joke

8. People always challenge you to speak Chinese. You always accept, and you just end up embarrassing yourself.

9. You get ridiculously happy when you find someone with even worse Chinese than you.

You are more than happy to pass the title of Worst Chinese down to them.

10. For what you lack in Chinese, you make up for with your much better English. Well, at least there’s that.

If like me, your Chinese isn’t very good just plain sucks, now is not a bad time to start brushing up on it.

With Chinese New Year just round the corner, learn some new cheng yus, so you can smash it during lou hei, and take it as an opportunity to practice your Chinese with your Chinese-speaking relatives!

If this article reminded you of your Chinese-challenged friends, share this with them.

Maybe even try to speak a bit of Chinese together, just for the heck of it!