In this week's Mandarin Monday, we'll focus on what we all need to know for those emergency situations where polite talk just doesn't do the trick: profanity. While we don't suggest that you drop f-bombs in every sentence from now on, sometimes you do need a word that stops people in their tracks and raises a couple of eyebrows.
First, the basics. “F*ck” (the verb) can be directly translated into Chinese as 操 (cào), but honestly that's only for the most extreme of circumstances. A slightly more polite term to use instead is 他妈的 (tā mā de), literally "his mother."
Like f*ck in English, 他妈的 is versatile – it can be used to mean "damn it," "gosh," "f*ck it," or as a modifier on almost every phrase you can think of to give it a little more oomph. And like f*ck in English, it doesn't always have to have an angry connotation – it can also be innocent, surprised, suspicious, indifferent... you name it.
A further refinement of the original 他妈的 that came thanks to the Internet is 特么的 (tē mē de), which sounds like the original but leaves everyone's mother out of the equation and therefore is less likely to be scrubbed from your social media stream by the Net Nanny.
Now that you're primed, let's arm you with a few example sentences to get you started.
When you're impressed
Baozi are f*cking amazing.
bāozi zhēn tā mā de hǎo chī.
(Don't) cheat me/screw me over
I’m trusting you with my WeChat account password, don’t f*ck me over.
wǒ bǎ wēixìn mìmǎ gàosù nǐ le, bié tā mā de chě wǒ hòutuǐ.
(Don't) mess it up
Deliver these beers to my hutong flat, and don’t f*ck it up.
bǎ zhè xiē píjiǔ sòng qù wǒ de hútòng，bié tā mā de gěi wǒ gǎo zá le.
Are you joking?
You slept with your ayi, are you f*cking with me?
nǐ shuì le nǐ de āyí, nǐ tā mā de zài dòu wǒ ma.
When you're annoyed
Nanluogu Xiang is so f*cking full of tourists.
nánluógǔ xiàng dōu tā mā de shì yóukè.
When you're exasperated
The dancing grannies in the square outside are so f*cking noisy.
lóuxià dàmāmen tiào guǎngchǎngwǔ zhēn tā mā de chǎo.
When you're unhappy/depressed
F*ck me, the pollution is f*cking bad today.
tè me de jīntiān de wùmái zěn me tā mā de zhème yánzhòng.
When you're overjoyed
I'm f*cking loving my air purifier.
wǒ tā mā de àisǐ le wǒ de kōngqì jìnghuàqì.
Now that we've got your attention, why not read how to decipher China's top Internet slang of 2019.
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