In Cantonese, people often say 話事 to indicate someone is "the boss" (e.g., 你話事) or can decide some matter (e.g., what to eat, what to watch).

This page says the Mandarin equivalent is 作主, but 作主 feels a bit formal. Is 作主 really the right equivalent?

  • 3
    在香港人说广东话“我话事”是什么意思?zhidao.baidu.com/question/1494056639767460219.html 最佳答案:一般来说,我话事只不过是指“由我作主”,例如去哪里吃饭,点什么菜,看什么电影等等,由我作主就是“我话事”,当然也可以说“我说了算”,例如公司老板,自然是他说了算,那就是公司是“我话事”. 还要就是“话事人”就是“头头、作主的人”
    – user6065
    Jun 10, 2018 at 21:37
  • @user6065 could you post this as an answer so you can get credit? thanks!
    – Crashalot
    Jun 11, 2018 at 19:35

4 Answers 4


Apparently simply 他说的算 or nevertheless 他作主呗。

https://zhidao.baidu.com/question/97813888.html https://zhidao.baidu.com/question/1887136042799627988.html


Haha, in China, at home, the woman is the absolute ruler, so try 老婆!

老板 is very commonly heard for boss.


To be polite, you may address someone as 师傅, which is a kind of boss

Every 单位 will have a 领导, leader, boss

'boss people around' 对某人呼来唤去


Personally, I don't hear 作主 very often and probably only in movies. 老板 is common and is what the English word "boss" means, so basically it's an employer. 经理 is a manager. To answer your actual question, 作主 does describe somebody who makes decisions, but not really in a business or work setting. An example phrase could be “一切由自己作主” (yi2 qie4 you2 zi4 ji3 zuo4 zhu3). This means to be your own boss, or being independent.


I hear 作主 enough to not think of it as particularly formal, no more than 老板; BUT it definitely isn't the most colloquial form.

[他]说的算话 is one option you could consider, and close in form to the Cantonese 話事.

  • 1
    How does 他说的算话 compare to 他说了算? The latter feels a bit smoother, but are you saying it's not a common phrasing? Thanks for your help!
    – Crashalot
    Jun 11, 2018 at 19:32
  • @Crashalot 他说了算 literally means "What he says, counts" and is a common phrasing in Mandarin. I understand it to mean "His words count", and sometimes with a subtle hint of "... while mine doesn't". Funny enough, a quick search suggests a movie of similar name.
    – Frenzy Li
    Jun 12, 2018 at 4:07
  • @FrenzyLi thanks! so which is the preferred phrasing: 他说了算 or 他说的算话?
    – Crashalot
    Jun 12, 2018 at 7:25
  • 1
    @Crashalot 他说了算 = His words matters/counts (probably with a subtle hint that mine doesn't). I would also use 他说的算. I have never encountered 他说的算话 before this post---I have no trouble understanding it though I subjectively feel that it is contrived. Another example: 他说了才算 Only his words matter/count.
    – Frenzy Li
    Jun 12, 2018 at 8:04

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.