You speak Chinese? No way!

For better or for worse there will be things about China that shock or surprise you. In English you might respond with “really?” and in Chinese you can do the same thing. zhēn de 真的 can mean “real” or “really” (there isn’t much of a distinction between adverbs and adjectives I Chinese) and you can exclaim zhēn de 真的 in the same way you might say “really?” in English.

If you are… erm, really surprised by something in China you can juxtapose the word for real (zhēn de) with the word for fake (jiǎ de) and say zhēn de jiǎ de 真的假的, which is a bit more like replying “are you kidding me?” in English.

tā xué le sān gè yuè de hàn yǔ jiù tōng gùo le HSK liù jí (She passed the HSK 6 exam after only three months Chinese study.)

zhēn de jiǎ de?! (Are you kidding me?)

When speaking English many Chinese people claim lots of things are “impossible” even when they’re not. This isn’t because Chinese people are particularly pessimistic about what things can and can’t be done, it’s because they’re speaking Chinglish. bù kě néng (literally “not possible”) is often used in the same context that “no way!” might be used in English, but with extra emphasis that you suspect it’s not true.

tā yǐ jīng tōng gùo le HSK liù jí. (She has already passed the HSK 6 exam.)

bù kě néng ! (No way/ I don’t believe that!)

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