How to translate:

  • "It is what it is"
  • "I am what I am"
  • "They are what they are"

Suppose phrase means "it" etc. are difficult to characterize or classify.

  • Removed biblical reference as you already provided the translation
    – going
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 5:27
  • Above phrases may be in answer to the question, "what is it?", etc. following differing assertions about "it", some saying "it is nonsense", some "it is wisdom" etc.
    – user6065
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 14:37
  • The original meaning in English isn't clear from the question. "It is what it is" seems to mean idiomatically "fxck it, we will unwillingly deal with it". But OP says it's used as an answer to "what is it". Please clarify your question, at least put more context into it.
    – jf328
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 9:13
  • read preceding comment?
    – user6065
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 11:47

3 Answers 3

  • "It is what it is" (imply it can't be changed)


  • "I am what I am" (imply I can't be changed)


  • "they are what they are" (imply they can't be changed)



Sorry to disagree with the distinguished colleague 唐后 We think "I am what I am." is better translated:


  • 我就是我 means " I am who I am" (not other person) ; while " I am what I am" describe what kind of person I am, for example: "a pragmatic man" (and that can't be changed). My name is not 唐后.
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 14:21
  • Old English hwa "who," sometimes "what; anyone, someone; each; whosoever," from Proto-Germanic *hwas. My Chinese friends disagree with your interpretation. Fundamentally, who means 'what person', note the 'hwa'. Nota bene: everything changes! Is who you are not what you are?
    – Gangosa
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 16:04
  • There is no need to apologise if you disagree with others. But you need to present more supporting arguments. Here I think the problem is because OP's question isn't clear in English anyway.
    – jf328
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 9:18

These are overused terms commonly considered meaningless nowadays.

The meaning is broad and vague and depends on situations. Sometimes it can mean "本該如此" and sometimes it may mean "幹!" (i.e., "fxck it").

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