A Chinese friend sent me this sentence with a smiley emoji.

I feel like it means ''Whatever you say.'' or ''Sure'', sort of agreeing with someone in jest.

But I could be completely wrong.

What does it actually mean?

  • "你说什么是什么?" literally means, "You said what is what?" If it is valid in English, then "你说什么是什么?" is also valid in Chinese. I do often hear people say "you said who did what?"
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jul 22, 2020 at 23:08
  • @TangHo Hmm ... ''You said what is what'' doesn't mean anything in English. Could you rephrase 你说什么是什么 in Chinese ? I mean could you say it in a different way ?
    – Kantura
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 0:03
  • Is your friend possibly asking you to clarify something you said? "You said what is what" in English might also be "You said which is which" Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 0:16
  • 2
    A short, sweet version in English is "If you say so" Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 3:47
  • @Wayne Cheah In the Moves' The Martian', the JPL director was asked by the NASA director to confirm if the Mars Explanation Project director Vincent's calculation was correct. The JPL director's answer was "if Vincent says so". Meaning he had no doubt that the Maths was checked out because it was Vincent who checked it. And he trusts Vincent. Do you agree it would be different if he replied " Whatever Vincent says"? Would it sound like he is leaving all the responsibility to Vincent in case things go wrong?
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 6:06

10 Answers 10


Maybe you mean:


You decide.



The sentence usually is used when someone disagree with you or they don't know the right answer and whether you said is true or not, but they don't want to argue with you probably because they think it's useless or they feel they can do nothing to influence your decision or believe.

It could be something like believe or do whatever you said because I have no influence on you about it or we don't know the real truth about it.. Or it could be that there are many ways to take it and you can decide whichever you like.

Again, we need more context to analyze what your friend truly means. It could be either he disagreed with you but don't want to argue or he doesn't know the truth either so he just left the decision to you or either way is correct and you can decide which one you should pick.

The sentence could be a wry way to agree with someone. And that smiley emoji is probably just to not make you sad about it.


I think Pedroski got it right.

"你说什么是什么" = "你说什么(就)是什么。" = "Whatever you say (, then whatever it will be)."

"你说什么(就)是什么。" can be used literally. For example "主席说你是人民公敌,你(就)是人民公敌" - The chairman said you are the enemy of the people, (then) you are the enemy of the people.

In most cases, it is used sarcastically. For example "你說我不是好人,我(就)不是好人" - You say I am a bad person, (then) I am a bad person

My conclusion is, yes, he meant 'Whatever you say.'. Not that he is agreeing with you, but more like "I am not arguing with you"

  • 2
    Sorry, but "你怎么说就怎么说" is very strange, I haven't heard anyone around say it in any case. 你想怎么说就怎么说 is common, but that means another thing.
    – dan
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 8:09
  • I was thinking "你(想)怎么说就怎么说" with the 想 omitted. It means 'however you want to say it". And it is indeed different from "你说什么(就)是什么" which means "whatever you say, then whatever it will be"
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jul 23, 2020 at 8:56

Like you said, your friend's sentence might be to convey:

"Whatever you say is what you say, I won't complain/disagree."

I guess it'll depend on context, like what the conversation is about etc. Did he/she reply to an answer, etc.

According to this article, the smiley emoji can mean something else: https://www.techinasia.com/smiley-face-emoji-meaning-china


You two may have a disscusion, and that people said this to you ? Most time , this people is too tired to argue with you.

also see:



The whole meaning of the pattern 说什么是什么 varies according to contexts. In (a), this pattern means someone is honest; in (b), it means the speaker is forced by authority to agree. a. 我们不是那心口两样的人,说什么是什么。 b. 您官大一品,您说什么是什么 。

In terms of cognitive semantics, its core meaning description is that the potential event expressed by 说什么 could be fulfilled by the act by 是什么 despite of any unexpected or expected intervention.


Could be two meanings

  1. you decide (more likely)
  2. implying you are too dominating (less likely)

it also depends on what kind of smiley emoji they send you. If it's a "slightly smile" emoji, than it raises a red alarm.


The meaning of this sentence is very vague. My mother tongue is Chinese, but without the help of context, I have no idea what it means. Even if there is a context, there may be a deviation in understanding.

This person is not very good at expressing his ideas, or deliberately speaking very vague.

The expression of smiling face has the meaning of being angry in young people's communication.


"Damn, whatever the f*** you say, I'll take it... I guess"

Said with a cynical voice.


It means the person who says this wants to just give up arguing. It can be translated as:

"Well, whatever" (accompanied by a shrug, or polite smile)

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