Expressing "mistakenly think that" with "yiwei"
We often have mistaken beliefs about various topics. With this article, we learn how to express them in Chinese!
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.
- 我 以为 他 是 英国 人 。I thought he was British.
- 我们 以为 你 不 在家 。We thought you weren't at home.
- 同事 们 都 以为 我 二十 岁 。My colleagues all thought I was twenty.
- 我们 都 以为 你 生气 了 。We all thought you were angry.
- 老师 以为 学生 都 听懂 了 。The teacher thought all the students understood.
- 大家 都 以为 他 是 大 老板 。Everybody thought he was the big boss.
- 她 是 你 外婆 ？我 以为 是 你 妈妈 。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 。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 。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 。 I saw that picture and I thought you had a boyfriend.
Sources and further reading
- Short-term Spoken Chinese: Elementary (汉语口语速成基础篇) (pp. 106) [ →buy]
- Contemporary Chinese 4 (当代中文4) (pp. 31) →buy