I know that the abovementioned formula expresses a negative result, but I am not exactly sure how to translate it. Some questions:

1 How to translate it well into English?

2 Can I use it without verb + 到 / alternatively without verb, but with 到

3 Can I skip verb AND 到 altogether without ruining the actual meaning?

4 One Chinese friend told me that the meaning of 头上来 is equivalent to 自己. False or correct_

5 To understand better, I quote a few sentences from my textbook - I seriously can not translate them well by myself. Help, please....>

a 我没找你算账,你倒先找到我头上来了 b 他们丢了东西,查来查去倒查到小孩子头上来了 c 你谁去欺负,现在竟然欺负到他头上来了

Thanks a lot for helping me out. Concerning this construction, I am lost!

  • For 2 and 3, if you drop the verb, the sentence drops some meaning. It's okay in oral just say 我頭上來了, meaning Now it's my turn, something bad usually, but also something good as a surprise, e.g. opportunity of a foreign business trip.
    – George
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 10:29
  • 頭 is roughly equivalent to something itself, not only yourself, something depends on what's placed before 頭. 上 is preposition, similar to "on". 來 is a helping verb, this kind of helping verb appears in Japanese and Korean too.
    – George
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 10:32
  • For plain translation, 5-a: I have mercy on you, oh nice, you belt me round the neck now. It seems to be just spoken
    – George
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 10:51
  • 5-b: They got something lost, searching for it here and there, at last, they came to the child.
    – George
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 10:53

1 Answer 1


This is a good question. First of all, 头 is the most important part of a human body. So, for someone to climb on top of another person's head 爬到 Subject 头上 or to ride on top of another person's head 骑到 Subject 头上 shows great disrespect to the person. This term is used usually to express incredulity on the action of another person.

  1. Because this phrase XX头上XX is usually used in the literal sense, any translation to English has to be done on a case-by-case basis.
  2. 到 always used together with a verb in front for this type of construction if you want to use 到 at all.
  3. Yes, for example, 算在 Subject 头上. Note, 来 is not necessary here.
  4. As explained earlier, 头上 refers to the most important part of a human body. It still refers to whoever is the Subject, not necessary 自己 (yourself).
  5. The following would be how I would translate the three sentences:
    a) I should be the one looking for you to settle the score, but you have come to look for me instead!
    b) They lost some stuff but ended up investigating on a little kid!
    c) Your bullying antics have gone on unchallenged, now you even dare to bully him!

Note that for the three sentences above, omitting the words 头上 would not change the meaning of the sentence. In English, it could only be represented by an exclamation mark as a way to express incredulity.

However, the more common usage would be 爬/骑到 Subject 头上 where 头上 is not optional. Example:

She was very obedient, but after their marriage, she rides roughshod over her husband, making life difficult for him.

The words 头上 can also be found in an idiom 在太岁头上动土, which means to do a daring act that would offend someone of higher authority.

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