This text is talking about 应试教育 versus 素质教育。In this sentence the last phrase is a bit unclear.


Dictionaries say ‘着急’ means 'worry, feel anxious'

我们不能太着急。I'd like to translate this as 'we shouldn't expect quick results' or 'we shouldn't fret'. Does that catch the Chinese meaning??

  • Since the process is not in 'our' control, I agree with your interpretation in your last sentence.
    – NS.X.
    Sep 1 '15 at 1:04

I suggest: "We shouldn't rush the process" since it's a long and painful process you're talking about.

  • Might be better with 'can't rush the process'?? What do you actually think when you read '不能太着急‘? ‘cannot very worry (about it)?
    – Pedroski
    Sep 1 '15 at 0:49
  • What do I actually think when I read '不能太着急‘? -- one cannot afford to rush the process because rushing it might be detrimental. That's why I said "shouldn't", or maybe "must not" is a better choice?
    – monalisa
    Sep 1 '15 at 4:41


This line does not have a subject. It looks like a typical bad use of Chinese language.


It's saying this change is very difficult and it needs a long and painful duration to be accomplished.


Thus, we'd better not push it forward too hard / jump the gun / be too hasty / act in haste / go off at half cook / advance too quickly.

So 着急 here does not mean 'worry, feel anxious'.

Here it's more referring to the probable unwise actions and behavior that is caused by your worry and anxiety.

  • Chinese often omits words, which always confuses me. This is an interview, so in context it is not hard to infer 我们 as the subject. Since they wrote 不能, wouldn't 'can't ' be more fitting than the subjunctive 'we had better not'??
    – Pedroski
    Sep 1 '15 at 4:12
  • Sorry, you are right about that. Precisely speaking, 不能 should be translated as " can't ".
    – John
    Sep 2 '15 at 5:09
  • Please don't apologize, I am only asking because I don't know what is right.
    – Pedroski
    Sep 2 '15 at 8:43

'着急' is not worry, the text is talking about 应试教育 versus 素质教育, the transition from 应试教育 to 素质教育 is a long hard process, so we must be patient and follow the basic education rules to make this change. In this text, '着急' means impatient, short-tempered. As the saying goes A watched pot never boils.

  • On the other hand, 快乐的时光总是短暂的, 'time flies when you're having fun'。 Maybe he means, have fun, don't worry, and the change will happen quicker than you think! I don't really think so, but it is possible.
    – Pedroski
    Sep 1 '15 at 4:23
  • 快乐的时光总是短暂的, time flies when you're having fun. I think when a man is happy, the time flies quicker than when he is sad or worried. 着急, in this text, means a man is eager to get the result or for example a man is eager to have a watermelon and even the watermelon is not ripe. Maybe the example can help you understand.
    – GoingMyWay
    Sep 1 '15 at 4:39

Based on my time in China in both professional and casual settings, I would interpret the term 着急 here as meaning "rushed." "Hurried" might also work.

My translation of your sentence would be

It can be said that we've already begun to push the transition from exam-oriented education to quality-oriented education, but this transition is very difficult. It is a painful and slow/very long/endless/arduous process. We should not/cannot be too rushed/hurried.

To illustrate, I give an example:

My wushu teacher might tell me


which translates to

This move is pretty difficult, don't rush it, do it slowly, otherwise you'll easily get injured.

As you've pointed out, very often people and dictionaries will construe 着急 to mean "worry" or "anxious," but I feel like using "rushed" or "hurried" is more in the spirit of the sentence, given the context of a "painful and arduous" process.

有道词典 contains some examples where "hurry" and its derivatives are used. In the entry for 着急 under more examples


Israel seems in no hurry to prevent that; nor does Mr Abbas, nor their local allies, the leaders of Egypt and Jordan.



Investors like to wait ("flip another card over") while you want to hurry.



"No," the waiter who was in a hurry said, rising from pulling down the metal shutters.


According to dictionary owned by Ministry of Education in Taiwan, 著急 means that feeling anxious and impatient because you want some result to happen earlier.

Consider the meaning and context in given quotation. The different style of education is pushed to change. But the change is difficult, and it is a painful and a long process. To interpret 我們不能太著急。 Consider the process is difficult, painful and long. It is rational to tell us not to feel anxious and inpatient for the reason that you want the result(Change of education style) to happened earlier. That is to say, Please don't be anxious and impatient since you cannot expect that the result you want achieve fast, just be patient.


Focus on 是一个痛苦的漫长的过程 (It's a painful long process)

When you search for the usage of 着急 when it means no rush. there is usually a time duration/period mentioned along, for example:

慢慢来,不着急 (No rush. Take your time)


不着急,慢慢来("Take your time")


想形容一件事“不着急,可以等” (Describe something no rush, you can wait for)


一个痛苦的漫长的过程 describes the duration of a process, so in order to translate to a word match the scene, no rush/take your time should fits better for 着急



我们不能太着急 connotes two aspects here:

  1. it exhorts us that the process is long and hard and there is no way we can get the result quickly, so we shouldn't rush it.
  2. As the process drags on, we should have the patience and not be anxious.

"We should not do it in haste."

hurried, usually carelessly.


XXX, 是一个痛苦的漫长的过程,我们不能太着急

"XXX is a struggling and long-time procedure, we shouldn't hurry"

but how it sounds I prefer this:

"XXX is a struggling and long-time procedure, we need to be patient"

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