When casually speaking English I use the word "actually" a lot at the beginning of a sentance, or as part of the flow of my speech. e.g.

Actually, next semester doesn't start for a month.

Actually, I don't have any siblings.

I would like to be able to continue this speech habit in Mandarin Chinese, I have been using 事实上 (shìshíshàng), but from my listeners' reactions I am not sure if this is really the same.

What is the closest equivalent expression?

  • 5
    Starting your sentences with "actually" can be an effective way to annoy people.
    – Orion
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 5:49
  • 3
    mandarin chinese is the perfect opportunity for new beginnings. Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 23:10
  • @NullUserException Actually, not always. ... :P ahah sorry, I couldn't help it.
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 22:36

3 Answers 3


"其实" or "其实呢" is more similar to what you wanted, casually. E.g.


"事实上" is not wrong, but it is literally "in fact" or "as a matter of fact".

  • 3
    实际上... Will be ok too
    – Alex Chen
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 3:29
  • @AntiGameZ That's right. At first, I thought "实际上" is more similar to "事实上" without thinking too much. Now I get it...
    – Flake
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 3:43

Following on from Flake, I also often hear people saying 那么 (那) or just as a way to begin sentences, or 那个 when stopping to think in mid sentences. Is that the sort of thing you mean?

  • sort of.. but I was after something conveying the sense that I am attempting to clarify the topic under discussion
    – jsj
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 2:47
  • @trideceth12 Do you want to imply that others in the conversation need you to clear it up for them? Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 16:34
  • @ColinMcLarty yeah
    – jsj
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 1:06

An addition to other great answers:

反正 can be used as "actually" too sometimes.


  • 谢谢你过来帮我 (Thanks for coming over to help me)
    Xièxie nǐ guò lái bāng wǒ
  • 反正我刚好在这边附近而已 (Actually, I happened to be just around the corner)
    fǎn zhèng wǒ gāng hăo zài zhè biān fù jìn ér yǐ
  • I corrected the examples but they need to be peer-reviewed first. I wrote a _ (underscore) where I didn't know the pinyin. Who knows it, feel free to add it and correct possible mistakes! :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 22:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.