As you practice and finesse your conversational skills in Chinese, you’re going to have to learn how to say more than “What’s up?” and “What are you doing this weekend?” If you’re ready to step up your conversation skills, one great way of breaking the ice, lightening the mood, and engaging your conversation partners is by telling Chinese jokes!
Introducing humor into your Chinese conversations helps you immerse yourself in the Chinese language, culture, and society. As you’ll see in this post, many Chinese jokes rely on puns that play with unique quirks of the Chinese language. These puns aren’t always obvious. For example, many Chinese jokes about foreigners take advantage of situations in which a foreigner misses a crucial double entendre that is obvious to native speakers.
In addition to helping you learn Chinese vocabulary with more depth, jokes in Chinese also just let you have some fun.
To help you practice your Chinese, improve your conversational skills, and have some fun while doing it, here are six great Chinese jokes that just might tickle your funny bone.
6 of the Best Chinese Jokes to Learn
1. Planes and stars
|学生问老师：老师，为什么飞机在天上飞，却从不会撞到星星呢？||xué shēng wèn lǎo shī: lǎo shī, wèi shén me fēi jī zài tiān shàng fēi, què cóng bú huì zhuàng dào xīng xing nē?||The student asks the teacher: “Teacher, why do planes never run into the stars when flying in the sky?”|
|老师回答：因为星星会闪。||lǎo shī huí dá: yīn wèi xīng xing huì shǎn.||The teacher answered: “Because the stars can dodge.”|
This joke is a Chinese pun on the word “闪” (shǎn). “闪” can mean “to flash,” like how stars twinkle. “闪” can also mean “to dodge” as in “闪避” (shǎn bì) or “躲避” (duǒ bì), meaning “to dodge quickly.”
|问：谁最知道猪？||wèn: shéi zuì zhī dào zhū?||Question: Who knows pigs very well?|
|答：蜘蛛人!||dá: zhī zhū rén!||Answer: Spider-Man!|
This one’s a pun on “Spider-Man” in Chinese, “蜘蛛人.” Its pronunciation, “zhī zhū rén,” sounds exactly like the pronunciation for “知豬人.” As a result, if you weren’t aware of Spider-Man’s name in Chinese, it would sound like “知豬人,” roughly translated as “I know, the pig-man.”
3. Steak ‘meet’
|问：一个七分熟的牛排和一个五分熟的牛排相遇了。可它们却没有打招呼，为什么？||wèn: yí gè qī fēn shú de niú pái hé yí gè wǔ fēn shú de niú pái xiānɡ yù le. kě tā men què méi yǒu dǎ zhāo hu, wèi shén me?||Question: A steak cooked medium and a steak cooked medium-well met in the street, but they did not say hello to each other—why?|
|答：我不知道，为什么？||dá: wǒ bù zhī dào, wèi shén me?||Answer: I don’t know, why?|
|答：因为都不熟！||dá: yīn wèi dōu bù shú!||Answer: Because neither was familiar with the other.|
“熟” (shú) in Chinese can mean that food has been well cooked, but it also can be used to indicate the quality of relationship between people, meaning something like “familiar.” For example, if we want to say “I am familiar with him,” then in Chinese we can say: “我和他很熟” (wǒ hé tā hěn shú). To say “the meat is already cooked,” we can say: “肉已经熟了” (roù yǐ jīng shú le).
|A: 谁比较高？A还是C？||A: shéi bǐ jiào gāo? A hái shi C?||A: Who is taller? A or C?|
|B: C，因为，A比C低。||B: C, yīn wèi A bǐ C dī.||B: C because A is lower than C.|
Don’t get it? Say “A比C低” out loud. In Chinese, “A is lower than C” sounds like “ABCD” (A bǐ C dī).
5. How much does it cost to get married?
|一个小孩儿问他的爸爸：“爸爸，结婚需要花多少钱？”||yī gè xiǎo hái ér wèn tā de bà ba: “bà ba, jié hūn xū yào huā duō shǎo qián?”||A little kid asked his father: “Dad, how much does it cost to get married?”|
|爸爸说：“儿子，我不知道。我 还在付款!”||bà ba shuō: “ér zi, wǒ bù zhī dào. wǒ hái zài fù kuǎn!”||The father said: “Son, I don’t know. I’m still paying!”|
6. “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”
|妈妈说：“今天能完成的事，不要留到明天。”||mā ma shuō: “jīn tiān néng wán chéng de shì, bù yào liú dào míng tiān.”||A mother says: “Do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today”|
|儿子回答：“好吧，把全蛋糕给我，我今天都吃光了吧。”||ér zi huí dá: “hǎo ba, ba quán dàn gāo gěi wǒ wǒ, dōu chī guāng le ba.”||The son responds: “Okay, then give me the whole cake. I will eat the whole thing today.”|
In the end:
- Using humor effectively can be one of the hardest parts of learning Chinese, but hopefully, these Chinese jokes have given you a place to start. When you learn Chinese jokes and find the right time and place to use them, you can charm your unsuspecting Chinese friends and colleagues!
- Learning about these Mandarin jokes will deepen your knowledge of the Mandarin language. If you’re learning Cantonese, finding and learning Cantonese jokes can also expose you to Cantonese puns.
- If you want to see truly creative and hilarious uses of Chinese, learn some Chinese internet slang!
- Make sure to add the words you don’t know to one of your vocabulary lists on Hack Chinese to keep them fresh in your memory. Also, remember that Hack Chinese has built-in audio for every word you are learning so you can make the most out of your vocabulary practice.