I have a group of friends who regularly meet to play soccer, someone asked on WeChat:


The reply given was the time that we start "7" (meaning 7pm).

I may be missing something very simple here, but I have never heard someone just ask 怎么意思.

So what is the correct way to translate this into English?

Based on the reply, I don't see how this means "what time are we starting tonight" or "what time are we meeting tonight" - which is the kind of question I would expect if it was in English.

  • 3
    never heard that sentence before. it's may be a typo or a slang in small groups Dec 20, 2013 at 9:56
  • I am certainly sure that your friend make the mistake! Your friend may ask for your plan. To translate a wrong sentence is not the right way. So for your first question , I guess they are asking 今晚怎么样(How about tonight?). For question two: I may translate to 今晚几点开始? or 今晚几点见面?
    – einverne
    Dec 23, 2013 at 4:50
  • @LiuYan刘研: English tip for you if you're interested: We never say "a slang", just "slang". Kind of like "information". (-: Feb 14, 2014 at 9:02
  • 1
    @hippietrail, thanks for your useful tip ^_^ Feb 14, 2014 at 12:40
  • Putting the phrase on Google gets just 9 hits, 4 of which come from your question. It is safe to agree with the people below who say this is not something many Chinese people would say. Dec 5, 2014 at 5:49

7 Answers 7


I think your friend was asking how to arrange the evening, not literally ask the time to meet. 「今晚怎麼意思?」 means “Any plans tonight?" in English.


I would read 意思 here as "wish; desire" (source: ABC). So perhaps something like: "what are your intentions for tonight" might be a somewhat literal (albeit overly formal) translation.


It might be a little off the topic, but you remind me of a popular joke online:


Your friend's expression is similar which is highly irregular and non-standard. Coincidentally, my friend and I also use "怎么个意思" in asking for advice and comments on recreational plans, attitudes and even just for greeting.

Usually the meaning of this kind of expression is gradually formed during daily usage among a small group of close friends and it might be difficult for outsiders to get to know the meaning at first glance.


This is more commonly used in Northern dialects. 今晚怎么意思=今晚怎么个意思=(litterally) How would you make tonight meaningful?=Where shall we hang out tonight?

This may have relation with 名词使动用法(noun being used as a donative verb) of classical Chinese. Since 意思=significance, here it means "to render significance".



  • 我上海的,我自己一般不會說「怎麼意思」的,最多說「哪能」。
    – hrzhu
    Dec 21, 2013 at 2:52

As a native speaker, I don't think it has the meaning of asking for time.

And agree with the translation of "any plans tonight".

BUT I have to say this sentence is not very standard, even not close to life chatting. And "意思" has so many many many meanings in Chinese. So pay attention.


I don't understand what the '今晚怎么意思' means, even I'm Chinese. I think it should be '今晚怎么样?'. It means 'How about tonight?', then they said '7 pm'.

Hope helpful.


it means what your plan is for tonight? how will you spend tonight

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