Making Mistakes in Chinese

Word of the Week: cuo le


Some people are scared of making mistakes, but if you want to learn a language you need to be thick skinned. If someone makes a mistake in Chinese you can say cuò le 错了.

As an adjective cuo means “bad”, so you can say bú cuò when you think something is “not bad”

nǐ shuō de bú cuò

you speak not bad (what you said wasn’t bad/ what you say isn’t bad)


zhè bù diàn yǐng bú cuò

This movie isn’t bad

However, when used as a verb cuò is probably closer in meaning to mistake. So cuò le can be translated as “you made a mistake” “a mistake was made” or “you’re wrong/ that’s wrong”

Chinese also has an interesting aspect where you can add a result onto the end of a verb. So if you add cuò le immediately after a verb it means that the verb was performed incorrectly.

nǐ shuō cuò le

You said that wrong


zhè gè zì xiě cuò le

This character has been written wrong

If you’re learning Chinese don’t worry about making mistakes or saying things wrong bié pà shuō cuò. It’s all part of the process.