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(ru2 he2) (zhi1 dao4) (zi4 ji3) (shi4 fou3) (hu2 tu2) (le.)
(how to) (to know) (oneself) (yes or no) (confused) (completed action)
How to know if you are confused.
My tutor has been teaching me about the word 搞 (gao3). It is a lot like the English word “get,” which is, in fact, one of its definitions. It is also another “to do” type of word, like the Chinese 做 (zuo4), which is very common. Other “to do” words are:
- 弄 (nong4)
- 做 (zuo4)
- 辦 (ban4)
- 幹 (gan4) (which I discuss the delicacies of here)
- 從事 (cong2 shi4)
There are other Chinese combinations that mean “to do” a certain thing, but these are the more general ones.
Other definitions for 搞 (gao3) are:
- to stir up, cause trouble
- to carry on, to be engaged in
- to secure
- to set up, to start, to organize
When 搞 (gao3) is combined with other words, it takes on certain implications specific to the attached word. Although, you might use it by itself to ask something like:
(ni3) (zai4) (gao3) (shen2 me.) (gui3)
(you) (adds -ing to following word) (engaged in) (what) (ghost, sly, crafty)
What are you up to?
(ni3) (zen2 me.) (gao3) (de.)
(you) (what, why, how) (to do) (adjective marker)
What have you done？
There are clearly negative uses, such as:
(wo3) (ba3) (ni3 de.) (dian4 shi4) (gao3 huai4) (le.)
(I) (indicates that direct object of action will be mentioned next) (your) (television) (made broken) (emphasizes completion)
I broke your TV…
There are some more positive uses of the word, such as
(ni3) (gǎo) (ming2 bai2) (le.) (ma.)
(you) (to get) (to understand) (emphasize completion) (question marker)
Do you understand?
(ni3) (gao3) (dui4) (le.)
(you) (to get) (correct) (emphasize completion)
You got it right! (or “you fixed it”)
Still, I had more fun when talking about being confused and that generated the sentences below:
(mei3 ge.) (ren2) (dou1) (hui4) (you3) (gao3 cuo4) (de. shi2 hou4)
(every) (person) (all) (will) (to have) (make mistake) (when)
Every person will have times when they make mistakes.
(yi1 xie1) (ren2) (ta1 men.) (gao3 cuo4) (de. shi2 hou4) (zi4 ji3) (hui4) (cheng2 ren4)
(some) (people) (they) (make mistake) (when) (oneself) (will) (admit)
Some people will admit when they make a mistake.
(yi1 xie1) (ren2) (bu2 hui4) (shuo1) (chu1 lai2)
(some) (people) (won’t) (to speak) (to come out, to appear)
Some people won’t talk about it.
(bu2 guo4) (ta1 men.) (dou1) (zhi1 dao4) (zi4 ji3) (gao3 cuo4) (le.)
(however) (they) (all) (to know) (oneself) (make mistake) (emphasize completion)
However, they all know they have made mistakes.
(ta1 men.) (dou1) (bu2) (shi4) (zhen1 de.) (hu2 tu2) (le.)
(they) (all) (not) (to be/are) (really) (confused) (emphasis)
They all are not really confused.
(bu4 shao3) (ren2) (hui4) (gao3 diu1) (le.) (dong1 xi1)
(a few) (people) (will) (get lost) (emphasize completion) (things)
A few people will lose things.
(ta1 men.) (shen4 zhi4) (ye3) (hui4) (wang4 ji3) (le.) (peng2 you3) (de.) (ming2 zi.)
(they) (even) (also) (will) (forget) (emphasize completion) (friend) (’s) (name)
They will even also forget a friend’s name.
(qi2 shi2) (ta1 men.) (goa3 diu1) (le.) (ta1 men.) (de.) (nao3 dai4),
(ke3 shi4) (ta1 men.) (zi4 ji3) (bu4) (zhi1 dao4)
(actually) (they) (to lose) (their) (adjective marker) (mind, mental capability),
(but) (they) (oneself) (not) (to know)
Actually, they have lost their minds, but they don’t know it.
(kan4 yang4 zi.) (ru2 guo3) (ni3) (zhen1 de.) (hu2 tu2) (le.),
(ni3) (zi4 ji3) (shi4) (bu2 hui4) (zhi1 dao4) (de.)
(it looks like, it appears) (if) (you) (really) (confused) (emphasize completion),
(you) (oneself) (to be/is/are) (won’t) (to know) (adjective marker)
It seems that if you really are confused, you yourself won’t be aware of it.
❶ This phrase was confusing to me. Literally, it seems to mean “not a few,” but my Chinese tutor says it means “a few, not very many.” She said this was also confusing to her when she learned English, but it is a phrase that has to do with perspective rather than actual counting. Another way of thinking about it is “there are not just one or two, but there are some or several.”
❷ Both 搞丟了 (gao3 diu1 le.) and 搞掉了 (gao3 diao4 le.) mean lost, even though 丟 (diu1) is translated “to throw, to lose, to lay aside” and 掉 (diao4) can mean “to turn, to fall, to drop, to lose” plus a few more things. The 了 (le.) on the end of each word is because the state of being lost is complete (at least in the moment it is spoken of).
❸ This grammatical structure can be used in fun ways. For instance:
我有多愛妳,你是不會知道的。 How much I love you , you wouldn’t know .
我有多喜歡吃巧克力,,你是不會知道的。 How much I love to eat chocolate , you would’t know .
Maybe you could try using the writing function on the KTdict Chinese-English dictionary app to figure out unfamiliar characters? If you have trouble, leave me a comment and I can help.
The 是不會 (shi4 bu2 hui4) is a bit hard for me to get my mind around, with its literal meaning of “to be + not + will.” It helps me to think of the “not + will” as the English contraction “won’t,” then the phrase is more easily remembered as a version of “won’t be” or “wouldn’t.”