top menu

Why People Need a Hug 為什麼人們 需要擁抱 in Chinese


A hug feels the same in Chinese.

A hug feels the same in Chinese.



Why People Need a Hug 為什麼人們 需要擁抱 in Chinese

Proving once again that there are many major similarities in common between most cultures, the Chinese word for “to hug” will be discussed today.  While in English, the word has wonderful connotations, the Chinese version leaves no room for doubt.





(ni3) (dei3) [(wan2 zheng3)(de.)] (yong4) (shuang1 bi4) (ru2 guo3) (ni3) (yao4) (yong3 bao4) (peng2 you3)

(you) (must) [(complete,whole) (ly)] (to use) (both arms) (if) (you) (want) (to hug) (friend)

You must completely use both arms if you want to hug a friend.


The first word in the duo, 擁 (yong3), means “embrace” or “hold,” giving an impression of total involvement. The second word, 抱 (bao4), means those things, plus adds the emphasis of using the arms and “harboring or cherishing in the bosom.” If there is an aspect of full mutuality to the exchange, one might say:



(wo3 men.) [(huan1 xi3)(de.)] (hu4 xiang1) (yong3 bao4)

(we) [(happy)(ly)] (to each other) (to hug)

We happily hugged each other.



It is a well known, but not easily studied fact that:



(mei3 ge.) (ren2) (xu1 yao4) (hen3 duo1 de.) (yong3 bao4)

(every) (one/person) (to need) (very many) (hug)

Everyone needs many hugs.


In any language, hugs are therapeutic and



(ren2 men.) (bei4) (yong3 bao4) (hui4) (you3) (geng4 duo1 de.) (neng2 liang4)

(people) (indicates subject passively receiving action) (to hug/hugged) (will) (to have) (even more) (energy)

people who are hugged have more energy.


In scientifically unprovable ways,



(hen3 duo1) (yong3 bao4) (rang4) (ren2 men.) (jue2 de.) (bi3 jiao4) (rong2 yi4) (jie1 shou4) (kun4 nan2)

(very many) (hugs) (make) (people) (feel) (comparatively) (easy) (to receive) (difficulty)

Many hugs make it feel comparatively easy to accept difficulties.


Even if



(da4 jia1) (zuo4) (zai4) (yi1 qi3) (gen1) (hu4 xiang1) (yong3 bao4) (shi4) (bu4 yi1 yang4 de.)

(whole family) (sit) (at) (together) (with) (each other) (to hug) (to be/is) (not the same)

the whole family is sitting together (compared) with hugging, it is not the same.


In one of the peculiarities of Chinese,



(ni3) (ke3 yi3) (bao4) (yi1 ge.) (bao3 bao3)

(you) (can) (hug/hold) (a) (baby)

you can hold a baby.


You might even



(yong3 bao4) (bao3 hu4) (ta1 de.) (bao1 bei4)

(to hug) (to guard) (his) (wrapping cloth/blanket)

hug his (gender neutral for baby antecedent in previous sentence above) wrapping cloth (to you) to guard him.


In any case,



(ru2 guo3) (ni3) (yong3 bao4) (bei2 ren2), (ni3) (ying1 gai1) (ye3) (hui4) (bei4) (yong3 bao4).

(if) (you)(to hug) (other people), (you) (probably) (also) (will) (passively be) (hugged)

if you hug other people, you will probably be hugged.


The audio we recorded of me reading the English and my tutor reading the Chinese:



Notes on helpful things I learned or was reminded of while writing these sentences:


❶ In this case, the Chinese word 擁抱 (yong3 bao4) can be a noun or verb as needed.

❷ For this sentence, the first character is dropped and embracing or holding is conveyed just with using the character/word (bao4).

❸ The word for baby literally means “treasure.” That is easy to remember.

❹ The use of a baby wrapping cloth implies a baby inside.

❺ A fun example of how tones and context are important in understanding spoken Chinese.