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Mar 7

Explanation of a Common Chinese Expression: 你懂的 (nǐ dǒnɡ de)

The expression “你懂的 (nǐ dǒnɡ de)” is a translation of the English expression “You know”. In 2010, people used this phrase on Internet forums to express tacit understanding of feelings.. Since then, this phrase“你懂的 (nǐ dǒng de)” has become very popular with all people. Today, we will explore how you can use this correctly in your own Chinese experiences. 你懂的 (nǐ dǒnɡ de) has three meanings:

Firstly, it is used when something can’t be directly and concisely discussed (sensitive topics).

Example:

Anny: 听 说 你 公 司 倒 闭 了 , 怎 么 回 事 ? (tīng shuō nǐ gōng sī dǎo bì le , zěn me huí shì ? )
I heard your company closed down. How did it come up?

Wilm: 倒 闭 了 ….. 我 们 资 金 问 题 ……. 你 懂 的 (dǎo bì le , wǒ men zī jīn wèn tí , nǐ dǒng de)
Yeah, it closed down…..our financial problem…… You know.

Secondly, it is preferred when all participants understand the subject of conversation and everyone has the same feelings about it. Because this is true, the subject doesn’t need to be elaborated upon and “你懂的 (nǐ dǒnɡ de)” is appropriate.

Example:

Anna: 最 近 的 空 气 很 糟 糕 。(Zuì jìn de kōng qì hěn zāo gāo 。 )
Recently, the air is too bad.

John: 雾 霾 , 你 懂 的 。 (wù mái , nǐ dǒng de 。 )
Fog and haze, you know.

Thirdly, “你懂的 (nǐ dǒnɡ de)”is used to protect people’s privacy.

Example:

Tom: 这 只 表 很 贵 的 , 你 买 的 吗 ? (zhè zhǐ biǎo hěn guì de nǐ mǎi de ma ? )
This watch is very expensive, did you buy it?

Nissa:男 朋 友 , 你 懂 的 。(nán péng you , nǐ dǒng de 。 )
Boyfriend, you know.

Therefore,“你懂的 (nǐ dǒnɡ de)”is a simple and useful Chinese expression that you can throw out whenever a topic is mutually understood, or even if you want to avoid elaborating on a situation’s uncomfortable details. For a beginner or a novice Chinese learner, it can also be a useful method of conveying meaning without stumbling through long and difficult sentence structures. Using this phrase will not only help you to become a more efficient speaker, but will also help you gain admiration for picking up and confidently using such a culturally nuanced phrase.

Author: Amy Zhang

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