Listen and download Lesson 8 of Basic Spoken Chinese
Literally: “Add oil!”
Usage: Used to encourage someone to make extra effort, to do better or to cheer someone on. Can also be used as a verb, “to work hard”.
Near-equivalent in English: “You can do it!”, “Go for it!”, “Go John/Mary/etc.!” depending on the context.
Nǐ yīdìng kěyǐ de, jiāyóu!
You can do it. Go for it!
Wǒ yào xuéhǎo Hànyǔ, wǒ huì jiāyóu de!
I want to learn Chinese well. I will work hard!
Jīntiān kǎoshì jiāyóu!
Good luck with your exam today!
加油 jiāyóu (v.): (lit. “to add oil”) to make extra effort; to work hard (here used as an interjection:) come on! go for it! go! e.g. 加油，你能行的！jiāyóu, nǐ néng xíng de (“come on, you can do it!”)
一定 yīdìng (adv.): definitely; certainly; be sure to; must be e.g. 星期天一定要来啊 xīngqītiān yīdìng yào lái a (“be sure to come on Sunday”), 孩子回来就不高兴，一定是没有考好 háizi huílái jiù bù gāoxìng, yīdìng shì méiyǒu kǎohǎo (“if the kids come back in a bad mood, it must be because they didn’t do well on the exam”), etc.
可以 kěyǐ (v.): 1. can; may e.g. 你不可以走 nǐ bù kěyǐ zǒu (“you may not leave”) 2. be able to e.g. 我在哪儿可以买咖啡？ wǒ zài nǎr kěyǐ mǎi kāfēi (“where can I buy coffee?”)
学（好） xué (hǎo) (v.): to learn (well) e.g. 他在学校没有学好英语 tā zài xuéxiào méiyǒu xuéhǎo Yīngyǔ (“he did not learn English well at school”)
汉语 Hànyǔ (n.): the Chinese language e.g. 你会说汉语吗？ nǐ huì shuō Hànyǔ ma (“can you speak Chinese?”)
会 huì (v.): will (do sth) e.g. 明天你会来吗？ míngtiān nǐ huì lái ma (“will you come tomorrow?”), 他会来看你吗？ tā huì lái kàn nǐ ma (“will he come see you?”)
今天 jīntiān (n.): today e.g. 你今天好像不太高兴 nǐ jīntiān hǎoxiàng bù tài gāoxìng “(you don’t look very happy today”), 今天是星期一，对吧？ jīntiān shì xīngqīyī, duì ba (“it’s Monday today, isn’t it?”), 你今天有空帮个忙吗？ nǐ jīntiān yǒukòng bāng ge máng ma? (“would you have time today to help me with something?”)
考试 kǎoshì: 1. (v.) to sit an exam; to take a test 我今天考试了 wǒ jīntiān kǎoshì le (“I had an exam today”) 2. (n.) exam; test 他的考试成绩很好 tā de kǎoshì chéngjì hěn hǎo (“his exam result is very good”)
Did you know?
The term 加油 jiāyóu originated in Hong Kong Cantonese. It started to be used as an interjection in the ’60s and ’70s during the Macau Grand Prix when people started chanting it to urge the drivers to step on the gas pedal to increase speed. The literal translation into English – “add oil” – has become so well known that it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2018, albeit under the label “Hong Kong English”. There are similar terms of encouragement in French, Japanese and Korean as well – courage, 頑張って ganbatte and 파이팅 paiting respectively, with the Korean term being derived from English “fighting”.