Word of the day 5 – 反正

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Today’s word of the day is 反正 (fǎn zhèng), which means anyway / in any case. This contains the 正 (zhèng) from yesterday’s word 正常 (zhèng cháng), the Chinese word for ‘normal’.

反正 (fǎn zhèng) is not only a high-frequency word in everyday conversation (think how much we say ‘anyway’), but also a wonderful example of the logical nature in which characters are pieced together to form words.

So let’s break it down.

反 (fǎn) : reverse / opposite / contrary / anti

正 (zhèng) : straight / right / proper / correct

反正 (fǎn zhèng): anyway / in any case

– reverse / anti + straight / corrrect = ‘anyway’ / ‘in any case’

Example:

Beginner: 反正无所谓 ( fǎn zhèng wú suǒ wèi) : Anyway, it doesn’t matter

Intermediate: 反正到时候再说吧 ( fǎn zhèng dào shí hòu zài shuō ba) – Anyway, let’s see about it at the time.

Advanced: 反正路不远,咱们走着去吧 (fǎn zhèng lù bù yuǎn, zán men zǒu zhe qù ba) – In any case, it’s not far. Let’s just walk there!

As a side note, another common example of this kind of construction, where characters of opposite meaning are pieced together to form words, is the word 左右 (zuǒ yòu). Literally translating to ‘left, right’, in conversation 左右 (zuǒ yòu) actually means ‘about’, ‘around’, ‘approximately’. For example, 5点左右 (‘around 5 o’ clock’)

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