What On Earth Do You Mean 意思(yì si)?

Posted by Fifi Yang on 01/03/2016 7:21 PM 1123

meaning 意思

Key Learning Point (Preview):

意思 (yìsi): n. meaning

Have you ever heard some conversation between Chinese people saying "意思yisi"? The word "意思 (yìsi)" is commonly used in Chinese, and it literally refers to "meaning". However, it has different meanings in different situations.

First, let's start with an interesting conversation between native Chinese speakers.

    Nǐ zhège rén zhēn yǒu yìsi.
A: 你 这个 人 真 有 意思。

    Bù hǎo yìsi, gāngcái ràng nǐ jiànxiào le
B: 不 好 意思, 刚才 让 你 见笑 了。

Do you really understand what they mean? Do not worry, we will explain the five different meanings of 意思 below.

1. "意思 (yìsi)" is often used to show that things or people are interesting.


zhè bù diànyǐnɡ tǐng yǒu yìsi de.
这 部 电影 挺 有 意思 的。
The film is very interesting.

Tā lǎoɡōnɡ tǐng yǒu yìsi de, zǒng ài jiǎng xiàohua.
她 老公 挺 有 意思 的,总 爱 讲 笑话。
Her husband is very funny. He loves to tell jokes.

2. 不好意思Bù hǎo yìsi

When 意思yisi appears in expression "不好意思 (bù hǎo yìsi),", it means"sorry" or "excuse me." When you do something wrong but it's not serious, you can use "不好意思 (bù hǎo yìsi)" to show that you're sorry for bothering or troubling someone.


        Bù hǎo yìsi, wǒ wànɡ le ɡěi nǐ huí diàn huà
Jane: 不 好 意思,我 忘了 给 你 回 电话
        Sorry, I forgot to call you back.

        Méi guānxi.
Alice: 没 关系
        It doesn't matter.

Bù hǎo yìsi, wǒ ɡānɡ ɡānɡ méi tīnɡ dào qiāo mén shēnɡ
不 好 意思,我刚刚没听到敲门声
Sorry, I did not hear your knocking just now.

Bù hǎo yìsi, zhè me wǎn le hái dǎ rǎo nǐ
不 好 意思,这么晚了还打扰你。
Sorry for bothering you so late.

3. "意思 (yìsi)" can refer to a small token of kind feeling, affection or appreciation, etc.


        Zhège lǐwù sònggěi nǐ, yìdiǎnr xiǎoyìsi, bié kèqi.
John: 这个 礼物 送给 你,一点儿 小意思,别 客气。
        This small gift is for you. You don't need to say anything.

         Xièxie le.
Mary: 谢谢了。

4. "意思 (yìsi)" means affection, like or love. It's commonly used when one person start to have interest with someone.


          Tā duì nǐ yǒu yì si
Anna: 他对你有意思
          He is coming on to you./ He has a crash on you.

          shì mɑ
Jenny: 是吗?

5. "意思 (yìsi)" can also be used to refer to meaning, hints, signs or traces.


kàn tāde biǎoqínɡ, yǒudiǎn bùxiǎnɡ bānjiā de yìsi
看 他的 表情,有点 不想 搬家 的 意思
I can tell from his expression, he seems does not want to move.

6. "意思 (yìsi)" can also be used to describe someone who is good, kind, delightful and generous.


nǐ yuánliànɡ le wǒde ɡuòcuò, zhēn ɡòu yìsi.
你 原谅 了 我的 过错,真 够 意思.
It was most generous of you to forgive me

nǐ zhēn ɡòu yì si 。
你 真 够 意思
You are such a good feller.

Now do you really understand what 意思 mean in different situations? What does 意思mean in the conversation in the beginning? Tell us in comment below. If you would like to learn more useful experssions in daily life. Feel free to contact us to schedule a free 1-on-1 Chinese lesson with our experienced Chinese teachers.

About The Author

Fifi Yang

Fifi has spent a great number of years learning French. With the understanding of the challenges of learning a language. She puts this experience to good use while preparing and delivering classes to her students. Fifi enjoys drawing, reading, and sports. Learn Chinese online with Fifi Yang >>