Some proverbs have the similar meanings in both Chinese and English, although the expressions are different. For example. “Burnt child dreads the fire. ” in Chinese, the corresponding proverb is “一朝被蛇咬，十年怕井绳 (literally means, “He who was once bitten by a snake is frightened at the sight of a coiled rope.” ) Can you make the connection?
Here is a list of 12 proverbs with similar meanings in Chinese and English:
Burnt child dreads the fire.
yī zhāo bèi shé yǎo, shí nián pà jǐng shéng
He who was once bitten by a snake is frightened at the sight of a coiled rope.
yǒu qián néng shǐ guǐ tuī mó.
if you have money, you can make the devil push the millstone for you
Fine feathers don’t make fine birds.
rén bùkě màoxiāng
you can’t judge a person by appearance
By falling we learn to go safely.
chī yī qiàn, zhǎng yī zhì.
a fall into a pit a gain in your wit
Better die with honor than live with shame.
níng wéi yùsuì bù wéi wǎquán
rather be a shattered vessel of jade than an unbroken piece of pottery;
rather fall to pieces like broken jade than remain intact as a worthless tile;
rather die like a hero than live in dishonor
Hungry dogs will eat dirty puddings.
jī bù zé shí
A hungry person is not choosy about his food.
Destruction pursues the great.
shù dà zhāo fēng
a tall tree catches the wind — a person in a high position is liable to be attacked.
For evil news rides fast, while good news baits later.
hǎoshì bù chūmén, huàishì chuán qiānlǐ.
Good news never goes Beyond the gate, while Bad news spreads 1000 miles
Feed a pig and you’ll have a hog.
zhǒng guā de guā zhǒng dòu de dòu
as a man sows and so he shall reap
Better an open enemy than a false friend.
míng qiāng yì duǒ, ànjiàn nán fáng.
It is easy to dodge an open spear thrust, but difficult to guard against an arrow in the dark.
Where there is life, there is hope.
xīngxīng zhī huǒ kěyǐ liáoyuán
a little spark may kindle a great fire
Behind bad luck comes good luck.
sàiwēng shīmǎ, yān zhī fēi fú
This proverb in Chinese has a story behind which is shown as below so to help better understand its meaning:
Once upon a time, there was a farmer in China who used an old horse to plow his field.
One day, while working in the field, the horse dropped dead. Everybody in the village said, “oh, how terrible it is!” The farmer stayed very calm, said “we will see.” His attitude moved the villagers and some decided to give him a horse as a present.
Looking at the new horse, people said “What a lucky man!” Ant the farmer still remained calm. “We will see. ” He said.
A couple of year later, the new horse ran away. Everybody in the village said, “What a poor man who lost his horse twice!” The farmer said, ” We will see.”
Several days later, the horse found its way back home. Everybody in the village said, “What a fortunate man!”
The farmer said, “We will see.”
One day the farmer’s younger son fell from the horse while he was riding it and broke his leg. Everybody in the village said, “What a poor boy!”
The farmer said, “We will see.”
Several days later, the army came to the village to recruit new soldiers. When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they left him behind.
Who knows losing a horse is not a fortune? Who knows gaining a new horse is lucky? Losing sometimes is gaining.
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