When pronounced as a 4th tone, this character has the meaning "to think/regard as/replace, suitable/adequate, at or in the very same". It's the first meaning I'm interested in. My dictionary gives the example sentence

你当我不知道吗? Do you think I've no idea?

The problem is, I can't find any more example sentences or articles or information on how to use this or when it's suitable to use it, because 当 pronounced as a 1st tone is more common and all my search results are for that pronunciation.

So my questions are - can anyone provide me some examples of how to use this character (4th tone)? And can anyone explain when to use it? (what is the difference between 你当我不知道吗 and 你以为我不知道?)

Thanks in advance!


3 Answers 3


According to《规范》one of the meanings of




and they give the sample sentence:


So it seems the difference between 当 and 以为 is minimal at best.

As for other example sentences, here's a gloss of the PLC dictionary provided by Pleco:


1 proper; right; appropriate

以上意见当否, 请批示。 Yǐshàng yìjian dàng fǒu, qǐng pīshì. We are awaiting your comment on the proposals set forth above.

2 that very (day, etc.)

当李的产量 dàng lǐ de chǎnliàng the output of that season

3 of the same; of one's own

当村的小伙伴们 dàng cūn de xiǎo huǒbàn men little friends of one's village


1 match; be equal to

他一个人能当两个人用。 Tā yī ge rén néng dàng liǎng ge rén yòng. He can do the work of two persons put together.

2 treat as; regard as; take for

不要把支流当主流。 Bùyào bǎ zhīliú dàng zhǔliú. Don’t take minor aspects for major ones.

3 think

我当你不知道呢。 wǒ dàng nǐ bùzhīdào ne. Well, I thought you didn’t know.

4 pawn

当衣服 Dàng yīfu pawn one’s clothes; put one’s clothes in pawn

Hopefully that gives you a better idea of how it's used.

  • I think it's 当季的产量 in your example showing "that, very" meaning.
    – Huang
    May 23, 2018 at 23:06

So my questions are - can anyone provide me some examples of how to use this character (4th tone)? And can anyone explain when to use it? (what is the difference between 你当我不知道吗 and 你以为我不知道?)

  1. the difference between 你当我不知道吗 and 你以为我不知道吗: there is no difference in meaning between these two sentences. 你当我不知道吗 is used more in spoken language. Well, 你以为我不知道吗 is used in both spoken and written.

  2. When/how to use 当 dang4: basically 当 is one considers/believes/have an impression in one's mind. For example, 你当我傻呀?! which connotes that in your mind you consider I am silly. More examples for this: 你当我是什么?我当你不存在。拿我当你啊!我可以当这件事情没有发生过。... ... and lots of more.

In short, it can be used whenever you want to express that someone would consider something/a person as XXX, like those examples above.

Hope this could help you out!


你当4我不知道吗? is odd for me, sounds like an old Beijing accents, However, 值当4 is a typical Beijing word, though also used all over country.

Other example, in traditional folk art, the old Beijing or Tianjin artist say a famous opening poem, one of the line is 养狼当犬看家难, they will say 当4.

An interesting part is young artist also say 养狼当4犬看家难, but they won't say 当4作 but 当1作, imply that they only learn the pronunciation from the art teacher, the accents are vanishing.

When 当 is related to pawn, it will always 4th tone.


妥当0 or 4, 稳当0 or 4 ( Both mainly used in north, especially around Beijing)

  • It's not a dialectical thing. Actually, according to dictionaries, the correct pronunciation should be dang4 when 当 means to think, like in the example 你当我不知道吗. Understood that in practice people usually pronounce it as dang1 in the sentence 你当我不知道吗, but technically it should be dang4, which at least is defined in dictionaries.
    – dan
    May 25, 2018 at 22:35

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