Expressing Likes and Dislikes in Mandarin

chinese likes and dislikes

Everyone wants to sound smooth and natural when chatting with someone in Mandarin. But hold on a sec; if your conversations solely revolve around declaring your love for scallion pancakes (because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), it might get a tad repetitive.

This is where this awesome guide swoops in to save the day. We’re here to take you beyond the basic “wǒ xǐhuan” (我喜欢) and equip you with an arsenal of ways to express your likes and dislikes in Mandarin –– because trust us, the world of Chinese emotions is way more nuanced than just a thumbs up or thumbs down.

We’ll explore fancy verbs for expressing preferences in Mandarin that make “wǒ xǐhuan” sound like yesterday’s news, get into the subtle art of disagreeing politely, and even dig into secret idioms that will have you sounding like a seasoned Mandarin speaker.

Get ready to impress your friends, family, or maybe even that cute dumpling vendor at the market with your newfound fluency in the language of like and dislike. We’ll have you holding conversations with confidence, peppering them with colorful expressions, and leaving everyone wondering where you picked up such impressive Mandarin skills.

Degrees of liking (this is your “xǐhuan” upgrade)

Okay, “wǒ xǐhuan” (我喜欢) has been your trusty companion when expressing what you like in Mandarin. It’s served you well, no doubt. But let’s face it, “I like it” can get monotonous after a while, right? There’s a whole spectrum of how much you can like something in Mandarin, and we’re here to unlock it. Remember, if you want to take your fluency to the next level, understanding the habits of highly fluent Mandarin speakers can set you up for success.

Spicing up your vocabulary

Think of “xǐhuan” as your everyday seasoning. To really impress, it’s time to add some flair. Here are some new verbs to add to your Mandarin spice rack, along with how they differ from “xǐhuan”:

  • 爱 (ài — to love): This goes beyond simple liking and expresses a deep affection or fondness. For example, 我爱我家乡 (wǒ ài wǒ jiāxiāng) means “I love my hometown.” Reserve this for things that hold a special place in your heart.
  • 欣赏 (xīnshǎng — to appreciate): This implies a level of respect and admiration for something, often related to its beauty, value, or skill. For instance, 我欣赏你的艺术品味 (wǒ xīnshǎng nǐ de yìshù pǐnwèi) means “I appreciate your taste in art.”
  • 钟意 (zhōngyì — to be fond of): This conveys a strong liking or preference for something, often after careful consideration. It’s a good choice when you want to express that you really dig something specific. An example would be 我很钟意这件外套 (wǒ hěn zhòngyì zhè jiàn dàiwài), which means “I’m really fond of this jacket.”

Intensity boosters (the secret ingredient)

Words like 很 (hěn – very), 非常 (fēicháng — extremely), or 特别 (tèbié — especially) are the pinch of salt that takes the flavor from good to “Dang, you must really like Chinese food!”. Let’s look at some examples that crank the “like” factor up a notch:

  • 我很喜欢北京烤鸭. (Wǒ hěn xǐhuan běijīng kǎoyā) — I like Peking Duck a lot. 
  • 我非常爱我的猫. (Wǒ fēicháng ài wǒ de māo) — I absolutely love my cat.
  • 这部电影特别好看. (Zhè bù diànyǐng tèbié hǎokàn!) — This movie is especially good! (This uses “tèbié” to highlight just how good you think the movie is.)

Bonus Tip: Notice how adverbs like “很” (hěn) often come before the verb, while “特别” (tèbié) can come before the adjective or verb.

Expressing dislikes in Chinese

dislikes in Chinese

Not everything is going to be your cup of tea. Maybe you’d rather listen to the sound of nails on a chalkboard than your friend’s K-pop obsession. Or perhaps durian fruit smells a bit too intense for your liking. Fear not; we’re here to help you voice your dislikes without making enemies.

The “bù xǐhuan” upgrade kit

While “bù xǐhuan” (不喜欢) is your trusty companion for expressing dislike, there’s a whole range of expressions you can use depending on how much you dislike something. Let’s restock your vocabulary.

  • 不太喜欢 (bù tài xǐhuan — don’t like it very much): This is for when something’s just not your jam, but you won’t throw a fit if you encounter it. Think of it as your “meh” button.
  • 不感兴趣 (bù gǎn xìngqù — not interested): This handy phrase politely indicates a lack of enthusiasm for something without saying outright, “This is awful.”
  • 实在欣赏不来 (shízaì xīnshǎng bù lái — really can’t appreciate it): This is a step up from “bù xǐhuan” and implies a stronger dislike, but it’s still more polite than saying “I hate it.” Use it when you find something genuinely unappealing.
  • 讨厌 (tǎoyàn — to hate/dislike): Use this when you feel a stronger dislike. Just be mindful of the context — you don’t want to cause any unnecessary drama!

A note on cultural sensitivity: Expressing dislikes in Mandarin (or any language) comes with a side of cultural awareness. While honesty is valued, open criticism is often less direct in Chinese culture. Use softer tones and indirect comments to avoid being too blunt.

How to break it to your friend that their singing is… unique

We’ve all been there – that moment when a well-meaning friend unleashes their hidden vocal talents and… well, let’s just say it’s not exactly music to your ears. How do you break the news without crushing their spirits? Let’s look at a few ways to handle this delicate situation.

  • Blunt approach: 你唱歌太难听了。(Nǐ chànggē tài nántīng le.) — Your singing is awful to listen to. (Yikes! Maybe just reserve this for karaoke nights where tone-deafness is celebrated)
  • Politer way: 我不太喜欢这种风格的音乐。(Wǒ bù tài xǐhuān zhè zhǒng fēnggé de yīnyuè.) — I don’t really like this style of music. (This avoids direct criticism of their voice but conveys the preference).
  • Indirect approach: 这歌听起来很有挑战性。(Zhè gē tīng qǐlai hěn yǒu tiǎozhàn xìng.) — This song sounds very challenging. (This implies it might be difficult to sing well without directly saying they’re struggling).

Bonus Tip: Sometimes, a well-timed facial expression might be all you need. Just be careful that your raised eyebrow isn’t misinterpreted!

Everyday Chinese like and dislike phrases

Everyday Chinese like and dislike phrases

Now that you’ve mastered the art of expressing different levels of likes and dislikes, it’s time for the good stuff — ready-to-use phrases suitable for a whole range of everyday situations. Think of these as your Swiss Army knife for expressing your preferences in Mandarin!

Scenario 1: Food adventures

Ever found yourself on a culinary adventure where your taste buds are doing a happy dance… or maybe a silent scream? Here’s some essential phrases to use when looking at restaurant menus or attending dinner parties, from expressing your love for spicy noodles to politely declining that mysterious-looking fermented dish.

  • 我特别喜欢吃火锅。 (Wǒ tèbié xǐhuan chī huǒguō.) — I especially love eating hotpot.
  • 我对海鲜过敏。 (Wǒ duì hǎixiān guòmǐn.) — I’m allergic to seafood. (Important phrase to know!).
  • 这个味道太淡了。 (Zhèige wèidao tài dàn le.) — This tastes too bland.
  • 这个菜有点辣。 (Zhèige cài yǒudiǎn là.) — This dish is a bit spicy.

Scenario 2: Entertainment time

Whether you’re a movie buff, a music lover, or just looking for something to do on a Friday night, you’ll need the right phrases to share your entertainment preferences.

  • 我看过这部电影了,很好看!(Wǒ kànguo zhè bù diànyǐng le, hěn hǎokàn!) — I’ve seen this movie, it’s very good!
  • 我对这种音乐不太感兴趣。 (Wǒ duì zhè zhǒng yīnyuè bú tài gǎn xìngqù.) — I’m not really interested in this type of music.
  • 我们去看个喜剧吧。 (Wǒmen qù kàn ge xǐjù ba.) — Let’s go see a comedy.

Pro tip: Don’t forget that mastering everyday Chinese slang words can help you sound like a native speaker and really impress your friends.

Scenario 3: Shopping adventures

Get ready to master the art of expressing your likes and dislikes when you’re on a shopping spree! Whether you’re swooning over a stylish jacket or questioning your friend’s questionable fashion choices, we’ve got the perfect phrases for you.

  • 这双鞋我很喜欢,我要了! (Zhè shuāng xié wǒ hěn xǐhuan, wǒ yàole!) — I really like this pair of shoes; I’ll take them!
  • 这个颜色我不太喜欢。 (Zhèige yánsè wǒ bú tài xǐhuan.) — I don’t really like this color.
  • 我可以试穿一下吗? (Wǒ kěyǐ shìchuān yīxià ma?) — Can I try this on?
  • 这件夹克太好看了,我要买! (Zhè jiàn jiákè tài hǎokàn le, wǒ yào mǎi!) — This jacket is so stylish, I’m buying it!
  • 你觉得这条裙子怎么样?我觉得颜色不太适合你。 (Nǐ juéde zhè tiáo qúnzi zěnmeyàng? Wǒ juéde yánsè bù tài shìhé nǐ.) — What do you think of this skirt? I don’t think the color suits you very well.

Bonus: Expressing strong feelings

Sometimes, “I like it” or “I don’t like it” just don’t cut it. Get ready to unleash your inner drama queen (or king) and amp up those expressions! We’re about to show you how to declare your absolute love or utter disdain with gusto.

  • 这是我吃过的最好吃的蛋糕! (Zhè shì wǒ chī guò de zuì hǎochī de dàngāo!) — This is the best cake I’ve ever had!
  • 这个游戏太无聊了! (Zhèige yóuxì tài wúliáo le!) — This game is so boring!
  • 这个地方简直太美了,我简直爱死这里了! (Zhèige dìfang jiǎnzhí tài měi le, wǒ jiǎnzhí ài sǐ zhèlǐ le!) — This place is so beautiful, I absolutely adore it!
  • 我太激动了!我简直不敢相信! (Wǒ tài jīdòng le! Wǒ jiǎnzhí bù gǎn xiāngxìn!) — I’m so excited! I can’t believe it!
  • 我受不了这个味道!太恶心了! (Wǒ shòubuliǎo zhèige wèidao! Tài ěxīn le!) — I can’t stand this smell! It’s absolutely disgusting!
  • 这部电影真是浪费时间! (Zhè bù diànyǐng zhēnshi làngfèi shíjiān!) — This movie was a complete waste of time!
  • 今天真是糟糕透了! (Jīntiān zhēnshi zāogāo tòu le!) — Today has been absolutely terrible!

Pro Tip: Don’t just memorize, practice! The more you use these phrases in conversation, the more natural they’ll become. Don’t forget that body language, Chinese hand gestures, and tone of voice play a huge part in conveying strong feelings. Don’t be afraid to get a little theatrical.

Idiomatic expressions for likes and dislikes in Chinese

Idiomatic expressions for likes and dislikes in Chinese

We’ve covered basic vocabulary, but now it’s time for the good stuff — idioms! These are the secret sauce that will make your Mandarin sound extra flavorful (see? Even if you’re not a foodie, learning Chinese culinary terms can open a whole new world of cultural appreciation). Now, get ready to discover colorful ways to express your preferences like a seasoned speaker.

  • 对…胃口 (duì … wèikǒu): Ever had a meal so good it felt like it was made just for you? Well, this idiom literally means “to suit one’s taste.” For instance, you could say: 这家餐厅的菜很对我的胃口 (Zhè jiā cāntīng de cài hěn duì wǒ de wèikǒu) — The food at this restaurant really suits my taste.
  • 合不来 (hébulái): This handy phrase translates to “not getting along” and is used to express a general dislike towards a person or situation. Think of it as the Mandarin equivalent of “It’s not you, it’s me”. Example: 我和我的新同事实在合不来 (Wǒ hé wǒ de xīn tóngshì shízai hébulái) — My new colleague and I really don’t get along.
  • 看不顺眼 (kànbushùnyǎn): When something really grinds your gears, this is the idiom you need. It means “can’t stand the sight of”. Use it for strong dislikes: 我真看不顺眼那些乱丢垃圾的人 (Wǒ zhēn kànbushùnyǎn nàxiē luàn diū lājī de rén) — I really can’t stand people who litter.

Usage notes

Idioms are a fantastic tool, but like any tool, they require some finesse. Let’s take a moment to cover some important points about the best ways to use these expressions to avoid any misunderstandings.

  • Context is key: Idioms, while fun and expressive, can have specific connotations. Be sure you understand the nuances before throwing them around willy-nilly!
  • Keep it casual: Idioms add a lot of personality to your speech but might sound too folksy in formal settings like Chinese business dinners. Think of them as the conversational equivalent of adding a fun accessory to an everyday outfit.

Asking about preferences (shifting the spotlight)

Asking about preferences in chinese

So far, we’ve focused on expressing your likes and dislikes. But what about showing genuine interest in what others think and feel? In this section, we’ll give you the tools to politely ask about someone’s preferences, turning any conversation into a two-way street. For example, do you want to impress on a first date? Learn a few essential first-date phrases and show your interest in the things your date likes!

Essential questions

Get ready to learn the key questions that unlock the door to understanding other people’s preferences and opinions in Mandarin.

  • 你喜欢什么…? (Nǐ xǐhuan shénme…?) — What do you like…?: The most basic way to ask about likes. You can fill in the blank with anything: food, movies, colors, etc.
  • 你对…有什么看法? (Nǐ duì… yǒu shénme kànfǎ?) — What’s your opinion on…?: This is perfect when you want someone’s thoughts on a specific topic or situation.
  • 你觉得…怎么样? (Nǐ juéde…zěnmeyàng?) — What do you think of…?: A versatile phrase that works for general impressions or asking for feedback on something.

Empathy bonus

Don’t just ask — listen! Show genuine interest in the other person’s response and use follow-up questions to keep the conversation flowing. Remember, asking about preferences is a great way to build connections.

Mastering likes and dislikes (your Mandarin skills just leveled up!)

Congratulations! You’re no longer confined to a world of simple “wǒ xǐhuan” expressions. You have a colorful arsenal of vocabulary and idioms to express your likes and dislikes in Mandarin with nuance and style. Your conversations just got a whole lot more interesting!

There are many ways to say you like or dislike something, each with its own intensity. But remember that cultural context matters. Choose your expressions wisely, depending on the situation.

Now, practice is key! Find a language buddy, use those idioms in casual conversations, and don’t be afraid to express your opinions. The more you use your newfound skills, the more natural they’ll become.

If expressing simple likes and dislikes is just the beginning, then it’s time to discover your true fluency potential. Want to finally break through those frustrating plateaus and master Mandarin faster? Our FREE Mandarin Fluency Scorecard is your secret weapon!

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