50 Skills and Abilities in Chinese

Lately I’ve noticed that Chinese has many words to describe skills and abilities that English lacks. While some like 杂技 and 想像力 are easy to translate, others are notoriously difficult In particular I found 内功, 号召力 and 悟性 real challenges.

Here’s the list I’ve compiled. Note that there are four main suffixes that describe skills and abilities in Chinese – 1) 艺, 2) 技, 3) 功 & 功夫 and 4) 力& 能力. Please let me know if you have any comments about the English translations.


50 Skills and Abilities in Chinese

  1. 厨艺: culinary skills 他厨艺很好。He’s a good cook.
  2. 手艺: craftmanship 老李的手艺很烂,他做的桌子用了两天就坏了。Old Li’s craftmanship is poor, the table he made fell apart after just a couple of days.
  3. 园艺: gardening skills; horticulture
  4. 车技: driving skills 我朋友说我是马路杀手,一定要提高车技。My friends say I’m a killer on the road, so I have to improve my driving.
  5. 演技: acting skills
  6. 舞技: dancing skills大家对她的舞技十分看好。Everyone thinks highly of her dancing skills.
  7. 杂技: acrobatics
  8. 口技: ability to imitate voices; vocal mimicry; ventriloquism
  9. 牌技: card-playing or mahjong skills
  10. 床技: lovemaking skills; sexual prowess (also known as 床上功夫) 他的床技很好。He’s good in bed.
  11. 吻功: kissing skills 他的吻功好。He’s a good kisser.
  12. 内功: ability to survive and develop; an enterprise’s competitiveness or an individual’s mental strength (originally referred to exercises used to benefit the internal organs in martial arts) 练好内功,使企业立于不败之地。Strengthen the business’s inner qualities to put it an invincible position.
  13. 眼力: ability to observe and tell things apart; a good eye他真是好眼力,一下子就看出这幅画是赝品。He has a good eye – he could immediately tell that the painting was a fake.
  14. 听力: 1. hearing 2. listening comprehension
  15. 定力: ability to concentrate, especially in spite of distractions (originally used in reference to Buddhist meditation)
  16. 耐力: stamina; endurance
  17. 智力: intelligence; intellect
  18. 亲和力: warmth of character; approachability
  19. 适应力: adaptability; resilience
  20. 承受力: endurance, especially mental
  21. 战斗力: combat ability; fighting strength
  22. 创造力: creativity
  23. 洞察力: discernment; insight 这都被你发现了!你的洞察力真强!You managed to figure that one out! You’re really perceptive!
  24. 观察力: power of observation 他很有观察力。He’s very observant.
  25. 感染力: influence; appeal; contagiousness 他很有感染力。He’s very influential. 她的笑声很有感染力。Her laughter was contagious.
  26. 号召力: charm and appeal; charisma; ability to motivate people 这个导演在电影市场很有号召力,他拍的电影都很卖座。This director is a big player in the film industry, all his films are box office hits.
  27. 想像力: imagination
  28. 执行力: ability to execute a plan; ability to get things done
  29. 理解力: ability to grasp ideas; faculty of understanding
  30. 影响力: influence
  31. 表现力: power of artistic expression; artistry
  32. 说服力: persuasiveness; power of persuasion; ability to persuade 他很有说服力。He’s very persuasive.
  33. 记忆力: ability to remember; faculty of memory
  34. 胜任能力: professional competence
  35. 驾驭能力: ability to manage or control (e.g. livestock, a vehicle, a company, etc.)
  36. 审美能力: ability to appreciate beauty; aesthetic judgement
  37. 领导能力: ability to lead; leadership
  38. 社交能力: ability to socialise; social skills
  39. 动手能力: hands-on skills; practical ability 父母让我们做家务,是在锻炼我们动手能力,而不是找借口。Our parents ask us to do chores not because they want to get out of them but because they want us to improve our practical skills.
  40. 逻辑能力: ability to think logically; logical thinking
  41. 嘴上功夫: gift of the gab 他的嘴上功夫还不错。He can really talk.
  42. 口才: eloquence 他是个很有口才的人。He’s a very eloquent person.
  43. 才华: literary or artistic talent (also known as 才气)
  44. 悟性: discernment; savviness 这个人很有悟性。This person is really savvy.
  45. 眼光: vision; foresight (also known as 目光) 他的眼光短浅。He’s shortsighted.
  46. 智商: intelligence quotient (IQ)
  47. 情商: emotional quotient (EQ)
  48. 才智: ability and wisdom
  49. 见识: knowledge and experience
  50. 气场: one’s “qi field”; a person’s aura, charisma or personal magnetism

5 Comments to "50 Skills and Abilities in Chinese"

  1. Jon's Gravatar Jon
    06/05/2014 - 10:50 am | Permalink

    你很有make lists力!挺好玩儿的。

  2. 07/05/2014 - 7:23 am | Permalink

    Thanks for another great list!

  3. 李's Gravatar
    09/05/2014 - 10:12 pm | Permalink

    目光短浅 is more common than “眼光短浅”。 Also, 说一个人“有眼光”是说他有品味;“眼光很高”则为品味很高,有时又代指高傲,而“目光”一词就不能这么用。也可以讲“目光长远”,意指其拥有长远的计划及考量以谋求可持续的利益。

  4. Chris's Gravatar Chris
    20/05/2014 - 12:39 pm | Permalink

    I didin’t realize that 艺、技、力 all stands for skills before. Thank you for sharing

  5. 20/05/2014 - 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m Kristine Peterson and I’m a English to simplified Chinese Language translator. You have mentioned a good list of Chinese skills and abilities. Blog links you have recommended are also very interesting and informative.

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