11 Words for “Indeed” in Chinese

In natural conversation, one inevitably finds oneself agreeing with the other party, and yet at the same time, one does not want to just keep saying 是 shì (“Yes”), 嗯 ǹg (“Mmm/Yeah”), or even 同意 (“I agree!”) which is quite formal. 我也这么感觉 wǒ yě zhème gǎnjué (“I feel that way too”) sounds pretty good, but it’s not strong enough when you really just want to say “indeed!” – or perhaps just a natural way of saying one of the following natural-sounding English expressions in Mandarin Chinese:

  • You can say that again!
  • Absolutely!
  • That’s so true!
  • For sure!

So how would one word such a construction? In fact there are a number of interesting ways that I’d like to outline today. I’ll try to provide literal translation glosses where possible – all of these can be used as interjections meaning “indeed”, expect where noted otherwise.

“Indeed” in Chinese

1. 谁说不是呢 shéi shuō bu shì ne – Literally, “Who says ‘no’ ah?”

2. 可不是吗 kě bushì ma – To be honest, I have no idea how to break down the literal components of this phrase, perhaps a commenter can assist me. At any rate, it’s quite a fluent way of saying “You can say that again!” Remember that, when pronouncing it, the emphasis usually rests on kě.

3. 说得对 shuō de duì – “[What you] say is correct.” Could also be expanded as 你说得很正确 Nǐ shuō de hěn zhèngquè. — What you say is very correct. (Which sounds bizarre in English, but that’s the Chinese logic.)

4. 说的是 shuō de shì – “[What you] say is true.” Same deal as number 3.

5. 没错 méicuò – “[You’re] not wrong.” Probably one of the most common on the list.

6. 的确… díquè… – “Precisely.” Cannot stand by itself as an interjection; must be connected with an adjective, e.g. 的确很难看 Díquè hěn nánkàn. — It was indeed ugly.

7. 确实… quèshí… – “Truly.” As with 的确 díquè, 确实 quèshí must be used with an adjective, e.g. 确实非常恐怖 Quèshí fēicháng kǒngbù. — It was truly [extremely] terrifying.

8. 就是 jiùshì – “Exactly.” Can be used both as an interjection and in the middle of a sentence, e.g. 这个问题就是很严重 Zhège wèntí jiùshì hěn yánzhòng — This problem is indeed serious.

9. 正是如此 zhèng shì rúcǐ – Here, 正是 zhèngshì means “exactly”; 如此 rúcǐ, “like this.”

10. 是这么回事 shì zhème huí shì – “It’s this kind of matter.”

11. 那倒是 nà dàoshi – “That actually is.”

I hope you find these useful in conversation. Let me know if you can think of any more!

13 Comments to "11 Words for “Indeed” in Chinese"

  1. F's Gravatar F
    08/11/2010 - 3:04 am | Permalink

    Very cool list, cheers! I’m gonna try to use these this week.

  2. Helen's Gravatar Helen
    17/11/2010 - 1:13 am | Permalink

    ”可不是吗“ 一般用于肯定别人说的带有否定词的话,或者有贬义或批判意义的话。例如:1.A: 他真不要脸!B: 可不是吗!2. A: 她真不知羞耻! B: 可不是吗!3. A: 他不应该让你掏钱!B: 可不是吗!他太小气了!A: 可不是吗!(funny isn’t it? huh~)

  3. Alicia's Gravatar Alicia
    05/12/2010 - 1:19 am | Permalink

    I think of “可不是吗” as a rhetorical “Ain’t it so?”

    • Quek Sai Kee's Gravatar Quek Sai Kee
      11/12/2010 - 12:27 am | Permalink

      I agree with Alicia. I would use the modern form: “Isn’t it so?”

      • blushingpride's Gravatar blushingpride
        13/08/2012 - 4:38 am | Permalink

        I thought the modern form was ‘innit? 🙂

  4. Quek Sai Kee's Gravatar Quek Sai Kee
    10/12/2010 - 11:58 pm | Permalink

    I think it should be 可不是嘛!(tone: downward) instead of 可不是吗?
    吗 is usually used for questions and ends with a question mark. In tone, it ends with an upward inflection.

    Just my two cents’ worth for your consideration:)

  5. Xuchen's Gravatar Xuchen
    14/12/2010 - 12:35 pm | Permalink

    可不是吗? “Isn’t it so?” Feels right to me. I kind of think of it as “Can it not be(like this)?”, kind of like “能不这样吗?“

  6. Josh's Gravatar Josh
    01/11/2011 - 12:43 am | Permalink

    I agree that “Isn’t it so?” is unnatural in English, but I think that Xuchen has perfectly nailed the literal meaning with “Could it not be (like this)”. That’s how I broke it down to help remember the meaning.

    With regards to feel and usage, I believe you’ve done well with, “You can say that again!”

  7. Ricky's Gravatar Ricky
    04/05/2012 - 7:28 pm | Permalink

    A possible translation would be the British-English “‘innit!” a.k.a “isn’t it”..

  8. LW's Gravatar LW
    18/07/2012 - 11:31 pm | Permalink

    然也(ran2 ye3)

  9. 07/08/2012 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

    I feel that 确实 could be used as a concessive. That is, ‘True, he is rather stubborn, but … (e.g., he’s amenable to reason).’ (他确实比较倔强,但是…)

  10. Erin's Gravatar Erin
    21/02/2013 - 7:33 am | Permalink

    I always think of 可不是吗 as the equivalent of an English slang that I hear quite a lot — I know, right? For example, A: Her dress is really ugly! B: I know, right?

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