Chinese Four Character Idiom: 忠言逆耳 (Zhōng yán nì ěr)

“Loyal advice jars on the ears”

Another great four character phrase in Mandarin Chinese is 忠言逆耳 (Zhōng yán nì ěr) which could be translated to “Loyal advice jars on the ears”

It’s referring to a situation where correction is given by someone — but that correction is difficult to hear or bear, the idea of the phrase is to communicate that sometimes although the guidance we receive from others is “difficult on the ears” (because it is correcting us) the people who are in the process of giving that advice are actually very loyal to us or else they would not provide it to us.

Here are the components:

忠 (Zhōng): loyal (adjective)
言 (yán): words or speech (noun)
逆 (nì): to oppose (verb)
耳 (ěr): ears

Here is a sample sentence:

没有人喜欢被批评, 但是, 忠言逆耳, 这些批评对我们是有好处的 (Méiyǒu rén xǐhuan bèi pīpíng, dànshì, zhōngyánnì’ěr, zhèxiē pīpíng duì wǒmen shì yǒu hǎo chǔ de)

Translation: “No one likes to be critisised, but, ‘Loyal advice jars on the ears’, these criticisms are advantageous to us”

Now we know how to offer good advice!

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