Chinese Beginners' All-purpose word: "没事 (méi shì)"

(Last Modified: 2019-06-27 07:46:48    Author: jinyu)

For many of the Chinese learners, they may have difficulties to start a conversation, as they are facing with a totally different language system, both on pronunciation and on grammar. Some of them may wonder that if there are any shortcuts to get a quick start. Actually, learning of some expressions which have multi-purposes or are versatile is a good alternative.

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What are all-purpose words?

In English, they may refer to multipurpose words, which denote "Words that have different meanings, with the same or different pronunciation". Like homonyms or homographs, there are a lot of English words which contain various meanings.

English homonyms

In modern Chinese, many of the words are coming disyllabic, which prefer to adopt disyllables as morphemes. Thus, when it refers to "words" in Chinese, people are talking about "phrases", as the sentence units are sometimes not single characters.

Chinese disyllables

So there are lots of Chinese phrases which are of multipurpose too. Because of the above grammatical reasons, those all-purpose words are useful in dialogs. Some of them are easy to learn also. For example, the frequently used phrase "没事 (méi shì)".

Usage & Examples of "没事 (méi shì)"

The character " (méi)" means "no" or "not", while the character " (shì)" can be translated as "things" in most cases. So "没事 (méi shì)" shall be converted to "nothing" literally. In fact, this phrase has the following explanations:

1. Nothing. The phrase here can be used to describe the status of not having anything or of being free, especially for a person. Sample sentences:

A: 你最近在做什么? ("nǐ zuì jìn zài zuò shén me")

[What are you doing recently?]

B: 没事,在家里玩。 ("méi shì, zài jiā lǐ wán")

[Nothing, just stayed at home playing.]

A: 没事在家看书,别出去了。 ("méi shì zài jiā kàn shū, bié chū qù le")

[Reading at home when you are free, do not go out.]

B: 好的。 ("hǎo de")


2. Never mind/It doesn't matter. As our free course [0-3] suggests, this is a universally colloquial answer to "sorry". For example:

A: 对不起! ("duì bù qǐ")

[I am sorry.]

B: 没事 ("méi shì")

[Never mind.]

A: 不好意思! ("bù hǎo yì si")


B: 没事 ("méi shì")

[It doesn't matter.]

In some northern areas, people use "没事" to respond to "Thank you" also, as a reminder not to worry about something. Here is the special conversation:

A: 谢谢! ("xiè xiè")


B: 没事 ("méi shì")


3. Being safe. As character "" can be short for "事故 (shì gù)" [accident] or for "事端 (shì duān)" [disturbance or incident], "没事" is also used to describe that someone is safe and sound. For example:

A: 医生,他怎么样? ("yī shēng, tā zěn me yàng")

[Doctor, how is he?]

B: 他现在没事了。 ("tā xiàn zài méi shì le")

[He is out of danger now.]

A: 没事吧? ("nǐ méi shì ba")

[Are you OK?]

B: 只是摔了一下,没事 (zhǐ shì shuāi le yī xià, méi shì)

[I just fell down. It's OK.]

4. Being unemployed. In the same way, "" can be short for "事情 (shì qíng)", which has the meaning of "job" or "occupation". So "没事" here stands for the state of being unemployed. For example:

A: 他最近怎么样? ("tā zuì jìn zěn me yàng")

[How is he doing recently?]

B: 他最近没事,在家闲着。 ("tā zuì jìn méi shì, zài jiā xián zhe")

[He is not having a job recently, just idling at home.]

5. Having no connections with or no responsibility for something. This is often used for notice or warning. For example:

A: 警官,我什么都不知道。 ("jǐng guān, wǒ shén me dōu bù zhī dào")

[Police officer, I know nothing about it.]

B: 你把事情说清楚就没事了。 ("nǐ bǎ shì qíng shuō qīng chǔ jiù méi shì le")

[You will be unrelated with this case as long as you tell us everything.]

A: 老板,我可走了吗? ("lǎo bǎn, wǒ kě yǐ zǒu le ma")

[Boss, can I go?]

B: 可以,你什么了。 ("kě yǐ, méi nǐ shén me shì le")

[Yes, you can go. There is nothing you can help now.]

Useful Idioms Contains ""

Chinese idioms, also called "Chengyu", are expressions used since ancient times. Learning and utilizing those idioms are perfect ways to understand Chinese culture and to improve communication skills. Below are some idioms containing the character "".

  • 1. 多事之秋 ("duō shì zhī qiū")
    Definition: a eventful year.
    Sample sentence: 今年是一个多事之秋。 ("jīn nián shì yī gè duō shì zhī qiū") [This year is eventful].
  • 2. 好事之徒 ("hào shì zhī tú")
    Definition: a meddlesome person.
    Sample sentence: 一群好事之徒正在喝酒。 ("yī qún hào shì zhī tú zhèng zài hē jiǔ") [A gang of meddlesome persons are drinking].
  • 3. 安然无事 ("ān rán wú shì")
    Definition: being safe and sound.
    Sample sentence: 我不能保证你能安然无事地离开这里。 ("wǒ bù néng bǎo zhèng nǐ néng ān rán wú shì di lí kāi zhè li") [I am not assured that you can leave here safe and sound].
  • 4. 不省人事 ("bù xǐng rén shì")
    Definition: being unconscious.
    Sample sentence: 他从车上摔下来,不省人事。 ("tā cóng chē shàng shuāi xià lái, bù xǐng rén shì") [She fell down from the car and became unconscious.]
  • 5. 草草了事 ("cǎo cǎo liǎo shì")
    Definition: rushing through things carelessly.
    Sample sentence: 这件事绝不能草草了事。 ("zhè jiàn shì jué bù néng cǎo cǎo liǎo shì") [This matter shall never be finished carelessly.]
  • 6. 感情用事 ("gǎn qíng yòng shì")
    Definition: acting emotionally, rather than rationally.
    Sample sentence: 感情用事的人,往往会失败。 ("gǎn qíng yòng shì de rén, wǎng wǎng huì shī bài") [People who give themselves over to their emotions often fail.]
  • 7. 料事如神 ("liào shì rú shén")
    Definition: to foresee like a prophet, or predict with divine accuracy.
    Sample sentence: 诸葛亮是一个料事如神的军事家。 ("zhū gě liàng shì yī gè liào shì rú shén de jūn shì jiā") [Zhuge Liang was a militarist with prophetic ability.]
  • 8. 成事不足,败事有余 ("chéng shì bù zú, bài shì yǒu yú")
    Definition: Unable to accomplish anything, but liable to spoil everything.
    Sample sentence: (It can be used directly as a sentence)
  • 9. 世上无难事,只怕有心人 ("shì shàng wú nán shi, zhǐ pà yǒu xīn rén")
    Definition: Nothing is impossible for a willing heart.
    Sample sentence: (It can be used directly as a sentence)


All-purpose phrases like "没事" are helpful for Chinese beginners. They are helpful and expressive. These expressions are prevailing among not only daily conversations but also writing document. Memorizing of these words can let Chinese learners going faster and further.

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