In English we have the prefix mis- that conveys this. I misread, I misspoke, I made a mistake, etc. A misrepresentation, a mistranslation, a misuse, etc.

  • Unless I misinterpret your question, how about 无 非 未 毋 没? Apr 25, 2020 at 2:34
  • One more candidate: 误
    – tsh
    Apr 27, 2020 at 1:25

2 Answers 2


For a verb with the prefix mis- you can use 错 (incorrectly, wrongly) to express the same thing.

Examples: I misread - 我看错了(Literally: I read wrongly)

I misspoke - 我说错了(Lit.: I spoke incorrectly)

I made a mistake - 我做错了/我搞错了(Literally: I did it incorrectly)

And for a noun with prefix mis-, one usually use 误 to replace it. While 错 is sometimes also acceptable for nouns, as in the few examples that you gave, I believe that 误 sounds more natural, and in words such as 误解,you cannot replace 误 by 错 at all (错解 is not a word). Note that this is quite subtle, since 错误 as a whole word also simply means "mistake", and 错 and 误 have very similar meanings, but their respective usages are not entirely interchangeable.


A mistranslation - 一个误译(“译”=“翻译”=translation)

A misunderstanding - 一个误解(“解”=“理解”=understanding)

A misuse - 一个误用(“用”=“使用”=use)

However, some words cannot be translated this way. For example, "misrepresentation" can only be translated as "歪曲" (which is an entirely figurative translation), but never as "误+something", because Chinese does not have a single character which means "representation“ on its own. (The two-character word ”反映“ means "representation", so one may consider translating "a misrepresentation" as "一个错误的反映". This is acceptable, but not as concise as “歪曲".)

  • 1
    "misrepresentation" can be 误传.
    – dan
    Apr 25, 2020 at 8:20

misread, misspoke, made a mistake, misrepresentation, mistranslation, misuse


You can use [action]錯 to describe the situation. Here [action] is the action that is wrong. 他這題寫錯了。(He done wrongly at this exercise). Here 寫錯 can be interpreted as [action]錯. Here [action] is 寫. And 寫 is the action that is done wrongly.

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