Chinese Proverbs

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Annotation And Connotations
A person cannot be judged by his appearance in the same token as the sea cannot be measured with a bucket.
(Chinese original: 人不可貌相,海水不可斗量; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Rén bù kě mào xiàng; hǎishuǐ bù kě dǒu liáng.)
Appearance is deceiving: youll never know how capable and/or how powerful he may be.
The evil is dreaded by men but not heaven; the kind-hearted is cheated by mortals but not God.
(Chinese original: 人恶人怕天不怕,人善人欺天不欺; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Rén è rén pà tiān bù pà, rén shàn rén qī tiān bù qī.)
The owner's departure leaves the house vacant.
(Chinese original: 人去楼空; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Rén-qù-lóu-kōng
This proverb derives from a Tang poem: “昔人已乘黄鹤去, 此地空余黄鹤楼。黄鹤一去不复返,白云千载空悠悠"。 Audio Xīrén yǐ chéng huánghè qù, cǐdì kōng yú Huánghèlóu./ Huánghè yī qù bù fùfàn, báiyún qiān zǎi kōngyōuyōu." Translation: "The person in the past left riding his crane, leaving behind this vacated pavillion. A thousand years passed and the crane has ne'er returned; the pavillion's only visitors have been the white clouds."

The poet expresses his sense of loss when he sees only the place but his old friends on a trip to revisit his hometown. Have you ever had the same feeling?
A person moves up while water runs down.
(Chinese original: 人往高处走,水往低处流; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Rén wǎng gāo chù zǒu, shuǐ wǎng dī chù liú
One should never give up efforts to improve oneself, whether morally or financially.

Void of a long-term plan will bring you trouble soon.
(Chinese original: 人无远虑,必有近忧; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Rén wú yuǎn lǜ bì yǒu jìn yōu.)

A man's greed is like a snake that wants to swallow an elephant.
(Chinese original: 人心不足蛇吞象; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Rén xīn bù zú shé tūn xiàng.)
You can never tell what one really thinks. Sincerity shows through one's actions rather than words and appearance.
A man's heart is indiscernible behind his chest.
(Chinese original:人心隔肚皮; Chinese Pinyin: Audio Rén xīn gé dù pí.)
(A similar proverb: You may know someone by his appearance, but you may never know what he thinks. 知人知面不知心: Audio Zhī rén zhī miàn bù zhī xīn.)
You can never tell what one really thinks. Sincerity shows through one's actions rather than words and appearance.


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Last updated: October 13, 2014