Similes in English are like "you are as tall as a tree" or "you are like a monkey in many ways". "Watchful like a hunter, open minded like a beautiful blue flower, ready like the wind." Etc.. Those two constructs, "as x as" and "like" form the basis of how you do comparisons in English. How do you do this in Chinese?

If you could provide Pinyin and English gloss along with any Chinese characters, that would be of great help as well.

3 Answers 3

  1. [adj] 如 [n] / 其 [adj] 如 [n] (more idiomatic, usually contains four characters)

  2. 有如 [n] 般 [adj] / 如 [n] 般 [adj] (more literary)

  3. 跟 [n] 一般 [adj] / 像 [n] 一樣 [adj] (more colloquial)

  4. [adj] 得跟 [n] 一般 / [adj] 得像 [n] 一樣 (even more colloquial)


1a. 蠢如豬牛 - stupid like a pig or a cow

1b. 兇狠如狼 - vicious like a wolf

(蠢如豬,狠如狼 is more classical)

1c. 其蠢如豬 - stupidness like a pig's

1d. 其狠如狼 - viciousness like a wolf's

2a. 如豬牛般愚蠢 - as stupid as a pig or a cow

2b. 如豺狼般兇狠 - as vicious as a wolf

3a. 跟豬牛一般愚蠢 - as stupid as a pig or a cow

3b. 像豺狼一樣兇狠 - vicious like a wolf

4a. 愚蠢得跟豬牛一般 (so foolish that it is like a pig or a cow)

4b. 兇狠得像豺狼一樣 (so vicious that it is like a wolf)

Another example:

桃李,冷冰霜 (beautiful like peach and plum blossoms, cold like ice and forse)

奔馬,疾流星 (fast like a running horse, quick like a shooting star)

  • Can you summarize the rules with a little English description instead of pure Chinese? Can you further describe the differences, unless that is it? I see "like" vs. "that it is like", etc.
    – Lance
    Nov 3, 2022 at 18:25
  • They are the simplest and most common ways to make a simile in idiomatic, literal, classical, and colloquial styles. You should focus on the colloquial first and the idomical second because we use them in day-to-day talk the most
    – Tang Ho
    Nov 3, 2022 at 23:48

"as...as" is comparing two comparable objects:

"you are as tall as a tree" - 你"如/就像"(as)樹"一般"(as)高

"she is as smart as him" - 她"如/就像"(as)他"一樣"(as)聰明

"like" is "similar to":

"you are like a monkey in many ways" - 在很多方面(in many ways)你"就像/如同"(like)一隻猴子.

"Watchful like a hunter" - 警惕的"如/像/如同"(like)一個獵人.


一朵血红的玫瑰 Rabby Bairns

O my Luve is like a red, red rose
That’s newly sprung in June;
O my Luve is like the melody
That’s sweetly played in tune.

You're as tall as your father.

The water was as smooth as glass.

Unfettered by the axioms of Western Grammar, Chinese can dispense with is, was and as:

My hands are as cold as ice.

Her skin was as white as snow.

  • I mean, the "unfettered by the axioms of Western Grammar" part at the end seems overblown. "Ice-cold hands" and "snow-white skin" are just as grammatical and idiomatic in English. Nov 1, 2022 at 5:09
  • Maybe he meant Germanic grammar? He did not say English grammar? :) Nov 1, 2022 at 5:35
  • Would you really only say: "My two ice-cold hands." or "Her snow-white skin." ?? Does that not seem a tad unfinished to you? English is Germanic!
    – Pedroski
    Nov 1, 2022 at 6:40

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