Chinese Character yòng 用 – How to use it

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USE in Chinese : Deciphering 用 yòng : The Power of Characters

Let’s take a look at the common verb yòng – 用 (to use) to learn a bit more about how words are structured in Chinese while also getting a deeper understanding of the character itself.

I remember Chinese Character yòng – 用 (to use) by looking at its two main components, which are 月 with a stick through it丨. 

As many of you already know, the Chinese character for Moon is 月 – (yuè).

Wouldn’t it be great if you could put the Moon on a stick and USE its light at nighttime?

Different Ways of Using 用 – Combination 1

Chinese Character yòng – 用 can be used in several different ways when combined with other characters.

First, let’s look at these three resultative complements:

All of these words are starting with the verb 用 – yòng and then following it up with the result of said “use.” 

用完, literally “use finish,” is the most generic way of indicating that you’ve used up something. 

It in the past (finished) now, so you can’t use it anymore.

A fresh way of telling someone to get more out of physical activity is to say to them 用力 – (lì), which translates to “use power.” 

You can apply this to any situation where putting more physical effort into a given task (e.g., scrubbing a table) makes sense. 

Different Ways of Using yòng 用 – Combination 2

What if the effort into “using” is more psychological in nature? “Using” your “heart” – xīn – 用心 is doing the task “with concentrated attention.”

If something is “useful,” it “has a use,” which is the direct translation of the Mandarin word yǒu – 有用 (useful).

If something is “practical,” it has 实 shí – (real) 用 “Chinese yòng” – (use). Thus came to the highly logical Chinese word for practical 实用 Shíyòng (practical).

Combination 3

Finally, if you ever want to say that there is “no need” for something, you can say 不用 – búyòng. 

Often after you thank someone by saying “谢谢” (xièxie- “thanks”), they will respond politely with “不用谢,” aka “No need for thanks.”

Are you starting to see how 有用 (useful) learning characters is? Keep it up, and your ever-growing interest in the Chinese will never 用完 – run out.

To learn more about Chinese Characters, check out our Guide to Chinese Characters.