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Expressing "mistakenly think that" with "yiwei"

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We often have mistaken beliefs about various topics. With this article, we learn how to express them in Chinese!

Structure

In English, the verb "to think" can imply that the belief is incorrect, e.g. in "I thought it was legal here." Chinese has a specific verb for this kind of mistaken belief: 以为 (yǐwéi). Literally these two characters mean "take to be," i.e. someone takes one thing to be something else.

Subj. + 以为 ⋯⋯

The phrase will be a whole new statement that is actually incorrect.

Examples

  • 以为 他 是 英国 人 。yǐwéi tā shì Yīngguó rén.I thought he was British.
  • 我们 以为 你 不 在家 。Wǒmen yǐwéi nǐ bù zài jiā .We thought you weren't at home.
  • 同事 们 都 以为 我 二十 岁 。Tóngshì men dōu yǐwéi wǒ èrshí suì.My colleagues all thought I was twenty.
  • 我们 都 以为 你 生气 了 。Wǒmen dōu yǐwéi nǐ shēngqì le.We all thought you were angry.
  • 老师 以为 学生 都 听懂 了 。Lǎoshī yǐwéi xuéshēng dōu tīngdǒng le.The teacher thought all the students understood.
  • 大家 都 以为 他 是 大 老板 。Dàjiā dōu yǐwéi tā shì dà lǎobǎn.Everybody thought he was the big boss.
  • 她 是 你 外婆 ?我 以为 是 你 妈妈 。Tā shì nǐ wàipó? Wǒ yǐwéi shì nǐ māma.She's your grandma? I thought she was your mother.
  • 你 去 吃 四川 火锅 了 ?我 以为 你 不 爱 吃辣 。Nǐ qù chī Sìchuān huǒguō le? Wǒ yǐwéi nǐ bù ài chī là.You went to eat Sichuan hotpot? I thought you don't like eating spicy food.
  • 你们 分手 了 ?我 以为 你们 还 在一起 。Nǐmen fēnshǒu le? Wǒ yǐwéi nǐmen hái zài yīqǐ.You guys broke up? I thought you were still together.
  • 我 看到 那 张 照片 ,以为 你 有 男朋友 了 。 Wǒ kàndào nà zhāng zhàopiàn, yǐwéi nǐ yǒu nánpéngyou le.I saw that picture and I thought you had a boyfriend.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books