Alright before I get a bunch of crappy answers saying things like:

> postive 
> active 
> energetic 
> vigorous 
> proactive

I just want to say these are not the words -or- phrases I'm looking for.

I feel like 积极 is very versatile and clear but I always have a hard time translating it back to English or finding a good equivalent to express the same thing in English.

For the following contexts what English word or phrase would you use to express 积极?


I want to use something like enthusiastic but it doesn't quite express it for me...any ideas?

  • 4
    What translation(s) have you tried, and why don't they work? In order to make translations sound natural, translators often change around word order, or use different translations of a word depending on context. I just want to make sure that you're not labouring under the misconception that there's a "perfect" word translation suitable for all purposes. Mar 31, 2014 at 5:25
  • @congusbongus Yes of course. Even as a person who's first language is English, I was just default to using 积极 because I really can't think of anything to describe this in English. Like I said enthusiastic seems to be the closest thing I can think of but still not that good...
    – Mou某
    Mar 31, 2014 at 8:54

5 Answers 5


i think proactive and enthusiastic are pretty good translations. you typically use 積極 to describe such qualities in a younger person who's eager to learn or do something but still humble to listen to advice, so it's not used a lot to comment on older people, though you can also use it to describe someone who's new to a role and wants to do a good job. e.g. a newly elected president (who's never been a president before). maybe that's what you feel is missing from the english words?

same thing for the opposite adjective 消極, which also lends itself better to describe younger people IMHO.


Maybe try be in for, have a passion for, have a strong inclination of, be used to , go into?

(PS. It is my personal thought that western languages weigh verbs more than how Chinese does.)

(PSS. Or are you just seeking some 'natural' expressions in English?)


He is not that used to expressing his ideas in classes.


He always has a passion for working.

  • I like your style
    – Mou某
    Apr 1, 2014 at 9:03

"eager" as in "he is always eager to participate in class activities".


I think active is ok for the examples you took. Active is used to emphasize that someone is taking action in order to achieve something, rather than just hoping for it or achieving it in an indirect way.


积极 has two meanings

  1. positive This meaning is often used to describe abstract concepts such as 态度(attitude), 措施(steps, means)

  2. active Often used to describe doing things in a active, often with initiative or a self-motivated manner.

As for your examples, the 积极 are used with the second meaning.


He is not very active in raising his hand and asking questions in class.

I know active is not the word you are looking for, but I think it's quite suitable here, since enthusiastic seems to be stronger than 积极。


He's motivated in doing everything

He does everything with initiative.

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