Google translate says Sensible, Thoughtful (https://translate.google.com/?sl=zh-CN&tl=en&text=dongshi&op=translate)

But I swear growing up, my grandparents (born in the 1930's), would use it as "mature", which is very similar to thoughtful/sensible, but I always felt it meant like I was a little knowledgable too

I remember growing up they'd be like 孙子开始懂事儿。or 你的弟弟不懂事儿 (my family is from the north-east so they have the 儿音话) Or like if I chose to save my money and not buy a toy, they would say 看男男真懂事儿

They would use it pretty regularly over my entire childhood, and while nobody ever translated it for me, I thought it translated more into "mature"

Also looking at the characters in isolation, it means to "understand things" right? So could it even be used in a professional setting, if somebody doesn't understand something in general?

I guess what I'm asking is, is for somebody to explicitly tell me the scenarios in which 懂事儿 can be used? I realized now as an adult that I was making assumptions from my childhood

2 Answers 2


事 in 懂事 is not just 事情 (things), 事 here mostly refers to 世事 (人情世故)

When describing a child being "懂事" it is to say the child is "mentally mature" in general

There are many elements of mental maturity, including being sensible, thoughtful, responsible, and considerate

"懂事" also includes these elements.

懂事 就是有常識,細心,負責任和考慮別人,欠缺其中之一都不算真的懂事

To be considered mentally mature, one has to be sensible, thoughtful, responsible, and considerate, lacking one would mean you are not fully mentally mature

All adults are expected to be 懂事

  • thanks for the answer! so to clarify, 懂事 can't be used to say that somebody knows things? not usable in a professional setting?
    – A O
    Aug 12, 2021 at 5:48
  • @A O "Know things" is generally described as 博學(多才) ,知識豐富 or 很有學識/ 知識
    – Tang Ho
    Aug 12, 2021 at 6:23

懂事 - 瞭解人情事故(適用於年輕人). 通情達理(適用於一般人). 聽話乖巧(適用於小孩和年輕女子,僕人).

懂事 is a praise of a young person who is well behaved and knows how to deal with the people around him/her according to their likings and dislikes (會察言觀色,討好年長者或主管).

It is also a praise of the children and teenagers for their good manner, behavior, and self-discipline/motivation without needing much attention and supervision.

懂 is "understand" and 事 is "things" or "matters". It is pertaining to personality and smartness but intelligence or knowledge. The opposite is "不懂事".

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