Word of the Week, Zenme yang


Zěnmeyàng (怎么样) is a very useful word, partly because the meaning is quite broad. Zěnme 怎么 means “how” and yàng 样 means “appearance”. Put together the phrase can be translated as “how does that appear?”

Zěnmeyàng can be used on its own to mean different things depending on the context. If your friend is eating some fried rice and you ask “zěnmeyàng?” you’re asking “how’s the rice?” If you bump into a friend you haven’t seen in a while and ask “zěnmeyàng?” you’re asking “how are you/ how have you been?”

Once you’ve learnt a bit of Chinese you can also use zěnmeyàng to extend an invitation. In English you would say “would you like to go watch a movie with me?” but in Chinese you would say “we go watch movie” and then add “zěnmeyàng?”, so the sentence is like “we go watch movie, what do you think to that? (zěnmeyàng)”

You can also solicit someone’s opinion. “What did you think of yesterday’s football game?” in Chinese would be “you think yesterday’s football game,” with “zěnmeyàng?” again added on the end.

So zěnmeyàng is an extremely useful word. At first you can just use it on it’s own, and then as your Chinese develops you will find more and more uses for it.


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