"Mama! Papa don't let me watch TV, he's making me do house chores first"

Both are translated as 让 in Chinese, e.g.,

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I even added more context on the sentence, with the hope that Google might be able to infer the proper translation of let and make to Chinese based on one's willingness/non-willingness to do something :) But then it's still 让

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How to differentiate let and make in Chinese?

  • Let = allow, permit (准, 允許). Make = command, compel, put pressure on someone to do something (令, 叫, 使). 讓 is less formal and “softer” than most of the other alternatives to “make”, though...
    – dROOOze
    Oct 25, 2019 at 2:01
  • Is there any difference between 'let' and 'make' (in English) in your context?
    – dan
    Oct 25, 2019 at 3:30
  • Yes there's a difference. "My teacher let me sing my favorite song", the kid is telling her mama that her teacher allowed her to sing the song she(kid) want to sing. "My teacher make me sing my hated song", the kid is complaining to her mama that her teacher is forcing her to sing a song she don't want to sing. It would be odd to complain with "My teacher let me sing my hated song." Oct 25, 2019 at 4:20

4 Answers 4


Assuming make = force, then it would look like this:

  • Let = 让
  • Make = 逼

  • Let me sing = 让我唱
  • Make (force) me (to) sing = 逼我唱

p.s. in case anyone is confused about make = force, OP @MichaelBuen wrote the following in his comments on this page:

My teacher make me sing my hated song", the kid is complaining to her mama that her teacher is forcing her to sing a song she don't want to sing.

The word "make" means the same as “"force" or "cause to happen / cause to feel something."

  • Thanks for this answer, I think 逼 can be used for strong objections, like with forcing to sing ugly song. However, I think it can't be used for some general unpleasantness, example it would be weird to say in Chinese and English: "My parents are forcing me to eat vegetables", we won't come across such wording in everyday conversation, unless the conversation revolves around something truly objectionable. I made another question regarding this, stating unpleasantness: chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/35433/… Oct 25, 2019 at 6:16
  • @MichaelBuen Trying to find a one to one from English to Chinese is impractical, there might be instances where you can but they are two very different languages. Expressions in English can also vary greatly from region to region.
    – Mou某
    Oct 25, 2019 at 7:30
  • Yep, well-aware of that, using three languages at home, one kid using four. I find it's better to learn Chinese (any language for that matter) by learning from Chinese-to-English. However, sometimes I need to learn Chinese from English-to-Chinese translation when I haven't yet encountered the fixed expression or a ready expression for something I want to express :) Oct 25, 2019 at 7:50
  • My wife (Chinese) agreed that for "My parents is making me eat apple", 逼 is preferable over 迫 Oct 25, 2019 at 11:29

In my opinion, the way to express the same thing is quite different between Chinese and English, so the interpretation is various according to different contexts.

In OP's case,

"Mama! Papa don't let me watch TV, he's making me do house chores first"

I'd expect, in this situation, a Chinese speaker would say something like:


非 or 非得 can be emotional in Chinese to express one's complaining. It can describe a situation where I am not willing to do something but someone else tries hard to make me do it. E.g. 我不想去,可他非让我去。

Another word that can express 'force' or 'make' is 硬. E.g.他硬让我做我不喜欢做的事情!

In formal speech, 强迫 is a word for it. E.g. 他不愿意去,就不要强迫。

There are also some other words, but context is the key to determine which one is best suit.


Papa don't allow me watch tv or Papa don't suggest me watch tv.

let means shall we?

eg:let us go to the great wall.

make means ask me to do something.

  • Let: The word "let" means the same as "allow" or "give permission." e.g. "My mother won't let me get my ears pierced until I'm 15." Make: The word "make" means the same as “"force" or "cause to happen / cause to feel something." e.g. "My boss made me stay late every day this week!" More examples: ecenglish.com/learnenglish/lessons/… Oct 25, 2019 at 1:21
  • 1
    you are right.I am Chinese I do not know how to tell you about it
    – daotian
    Oct 25, 2019 at 1:37

You are looking at this from the wrong angle.

Perhaps first change 'don't' for 'won't'

"Mama, Papa won't let me watch TV, he's making me do house chores first."

The little brat is trying to play Mum against Dad, so the brat says "Dad is making me". Dad only asked him or her to tidy up his or her room a bit first.

You can't watch TV now, please tidy your room first.
现在不可以看电视, 请你先整理你的房间。

So your second 让 is only 'asking = 请', not 'making = 迫使'。

Dad is not a despot, just a parent!

  • The word "don't" indeed makes the dad seems like a despot :) Should use "won't". Next time, I'll use english.stackexchange.com when I have doubt with the wordings Oct 25, 2019 at 4:41
  • No, don't is just wrong. You can't say 'Dad do not let me' you should say 'Dad will not let me.' 'Dad does something.', not 'Dad do something.'
    – Pedroski
    Oct 26, 2019 at 0:26

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