What To Say When Your Chinese Friend Is A Phone Addict

Word of the week: kòng

There’s always that one person in the office who spends more time playing on their shǒu jī 手机 (phone) and talking to people on wēi xìn 微信 (WeChat) than they spend talking to people in real life. These people you can call shǒu jī kòng 手机控 (phone addict). So next time you’re at the bar and you see your Chinese friend is playing on their phone again you can say:

nǐ zhēn shì gè shǒu jī kòng 你真是个手机控 (you really are a phone addict!)

You can add kòng 控 onto the end of a few different words to indicate that a person spends too much time on that thing. For example diàn nǎo kòng 电脑控 for someone who is always glued to their computer screen, or yóu xì kòng 游戏控 for someone who spends more time in computer game world than in the real world.



shǒu jī kòng on the subway


shǒu jī kòng sounds a bit light hearted. If you think the person actually has a real problem you can say nǐ yǒu shǒu jī yī lài zhèng 你有手机依赖症 which translates as “you have phone dependence disorder”. I’m not sure if yī lài zhèng (dependence disorder) is really a legitimate medical condition, particularly the phone variety, but it certainly sounds more serious than shǒu jī kòng. You can also add other nouns in front of yī lài zhèng to indicate an over-dependence on that thing.

All this talk of shǒu jī kòng and shǒu jī yī lài zhèng reminds me of a time I was at karaoke with some Chinese friends. As usual there was one girl spending the whole time on her phone and so my friend, an overseas Chinese from Spain, shouted out:

shéi wán shǒu jī jiù yào dǎ pì gǔ! tuō kù zi dǎ pì gǔ! 谁玩手机就要打屁股!脱裤子打屁股!(whoever plays on their phone will get a smack bottom! Pants down smack bottom!)

You can also say that someone is addicted to their phone. nǐ duì shǒu jī shàng yǐn le 你对手机上瘾了(you’re addicted to your phone). For “addicted to” you can use the sentence structure duìshàng yǐn le and just insert the thing that is addicted to. wǒ duì xiāng yān shàng yǐn le 我对香烟上瘾了 (I to cigarettes addicted/ I am addicted to cigarettes)