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I think it's used like 'so so' in English. Like

问题:你觉得怎么样?

回答:马马虎虎。

Am I correct in this? Are there other ways to use it?

  • searching internet immediately leads to widely respected dictionaries like wiktionary,baidu。baike,chengyu.itlearner.com,zdic。net,some users have raised objections to iciba because of sometimes defective English,which however does not detract from its usefulness in providing plenty of sample sentences – user6065 Mar 14 '15 at 1:19
1

马虎 means careless, casual, perfunctory, etc.
So-so mean neither good nor bad, in between.
Example on how to use 马虎:

Question: 为什么你的数学考试打分呢么差? (Why is your score so low on your math test?)
Answer: 我马虎了。 (I was a bit careless.)

马马虎虎 can be shortened to 马虎 in some cases, as shown in the example above.

  • 1
    I don't think 马虎 is short for 马马虎虎. Using repetitive characters is a feature of Chinese to alter the expression in speaking. More than often 马虎 means carelessness and 马马虎虎 means a midly degree of something. – user1228520 Mar 14 '15 at 3:47
  • 小马词典: 马虎 mǎ hu careless; sloppy; negligent; skimpy 马马虎虎 mǎ ma hū hū careless; casual; vague; not so bad; so-so; tolerable; fair iciba has many sample sentences for both – user6065 Mar 14 '15 at 5:38
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    I am a native speaker so I believe I should be able to give a reasonable judge: 马马虎虎 -> not so bad, average; 马虎 -> careless. They have totally different meaning and cannot be replaced by each other. This is not so usual but it happens. – Xiaoge Su Mar 16 '15 at 22:04
  • This should not be the accepted answer because it is incorrect. – Frenzy Li Jun 12 '18 at 8:27
2

I am a native Chinese speaker of Northeastern Chinese origin.

"马马虎虎" can also be used when you are trying to be modest. For example, if someone praises you:

"Friso, 你的中文讲得好棒啊!" (Friso, your spoken Chinese is so good!)

Then you may reply with a smile, "马马虎虎,马马虎虎。"

People will interpret it as you're being modest, and they usually like a response like this.

Hope this helps.

  • So it's similar to 哪里哪里? – Friso Mar 17 '15 at 8:21
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    "哪里哪里" sounds a little formal and old-fashioned. "马马虎虎,马马虎虎" sounds casual and somewhat humorous. – mangoyogurt Mar 17 '15 at 18:20
  • @mangoyogurt I generally find that the difference between how I use 马马虎虎 and 哪里哪里 in this context is that if I think my Chinese is pretty good then I would use 哪里哪里 whereas if I think my Chinese is not that good but someone thought it was then I would use 马马虎虎. If you pretend to sound too humble and it doesn't quite match your actual skill then it seems unnatural as well. – Michael Lai Mar 20 '15 at 4:54
0

*Q: How's your exam?

问:你考得怎么样?

答:马马虎虎吧。

*马虎-形容一个人做事很不小心。

  • 马马虎虎 is not same as 马虎. – songyuanyao Mar 17 '15 at 0:49

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