Chinese idioms and sayings often make my head swirl. There are so many so I almost always forget all of them. I went online looking for the most common ones and found the following list. Who knows if they are the most common, but they do seem mostly useful. Anyway, I thought some of you might find them interesting.
天道酬勤 God helps those who help themselves.
熟能生巧 Practices make perfect. / Skill comes from practice.
不眠之夜 white night
爱屋及乌 Love me, love my dog.
不遗余力 spare no effort; go all out; do one's best
笨鸟先飞 A slow sparrow should make an early start.
辞旧迎新 bid farewell to the old and usher in the new;
ring out the old year and ring in the new
大开眼界 open one's eyes; broaden one's horizon; be an eye-opener
国泰民安 The country flourishes and people live in peace
过犹不及 going too far is as bad as not going far enough;
beyond is as wrong as falling short; too much is as bad as too little
和气生财 Harmony brings wealth
既往不咎 let bygones be bygones
金玉满堂 Treasures fill the home
脚踏实地 be down-to-earth
茅塞顿开 be suddenly enlightened
马到成功 achieve immediate victory; win instant success
名利双收 gain in both fame and wealth
弄巧成拙 be too smart by half; Cunning outwits itself.
礼尚往来 Courtesy calls for reciprocity.
脚踩两只船 sit on the fence
不打不成交 "No discord, no concord.
百闻不如一见 Seeing is believing.
拆东墙补西墙 rob Peter to pay Paul
活到老，学到老 One is never too old to learn.
有志者，事竟成 Where there is a will, there is a way.
功夫不负有心人 Everything comes to him who waits.
好了伤疤忘了疼 once on shore, one prays no more
赔了夫人又折兵 throw good money after bad
君子之交淡如水 the friendship between gentlemen is as pure as crystal; a hedge between keeps friendship green
每逢佳节倍思亲 On festive occasions more than ever one thinks of one's dear ones far away. It is on the festival occasions when one misses his dear most.
没有规矩不成方圆 Nothing can be accomplished without norms or standards.
不以物喜，不以己悲 not pleased by external gains, not saddened by personnal losses
金无足赤，人无完人 Gold can't be pure and man can't be perfect.
老生常谈，陈词滥调 cut and dried, cliché
比上不足，比下有余 "worse off than some, better off than many; to fall short of the best, but be better than the worst
谋事在人，成事在天 "The planning lies with man, the outcome with Heaven. Man proposes, God disposes. "
大事化小，小事化了 try first to make their mistake sound less serious and then to reduce it to nothing at all
好事不出门，恶事传千里 Good news never goes beyond the gate, while bad news spread far and wide.
留得青山在，不怕没柴烧 "Where there is life, there is hope."
My source is here.
By the way, if anyone has a better list, please share.
changyeAugust 18, 2009, 07:22 AM
The problem is there are too many "最常见的成语" in Chinese. I have a small book titled "学生成语词典" edited for Chinese grade schoolers. To my surprise, it contains more than 600 "frequently used" chengyu.......
helenshen_counselorAugust 18, 2009, 08:18 AM
Some more! And "情人眼里出西施”，Qíngrén yǎnlǐ chū Xī shī，"Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder", “说曹操，曹操到”，Shuō Cáo Cāo，Cáo Cāo dào，"talk of the devil and he comes".
and...there must be some more....(not the end)
henningAugust 18, 2009, 08:56 AM
right in front of me lies a small book called 汉语成语小词典 that is supposedly geared at elementary school students (!). It claims:
helenshen_counselorAugust 19, 2009, 02:54 AM
Ahh.. some more!
Actions speak louder than words.
事实胜于雄辩. Shìshí shèngyú xióngbiàn
Knowledge is power.
知识就是力量. Zhīshi jiùshì lìliàng
An idle youth,a needy age.
少壮不努力,老大徒伤悲. Shàozhuàng bù nǔlì,
lǎodà tú shāngbēi
Better late than never.
晚做总比不做强. Wǎn zuò zǒng bǐ bù zuò qiáng
Better pills may have wholesome effects.
Easy come,easy go.
来得容易,去得容易. Láide róngyì, qùde róngyì
Look before you leap.
三思而后行. Sānsī ér hòuxíng
Well begin is half done.
好的开始是成功的一半. Hǎo de kāishǐ shì chénggōng
All good things come to an end.
天下没有不散的宴席. Tiānxià méiyǒu bù sàn de yànxí
Even Homer sometimes nods.
智者千虑,必有一失. Zhìzhě qiān lǜ, bì yǒu yī shī
It's dogged that does it.
世上无难事,只怕有心人. Shìshàng wú nánshì, zhǐpà
All roads lead to Rome.
条条大路通罗马. Tiáotiáo dàlù tōng Luómǎ
Practise what you preach.
言行一致. Yánxíng yīzhì
Practice makes perfect.
No pain,no gain.
Where there is a will,there is a way.
有志者事竟成. Yǒuzhìzhě shì jìngchéng
Seeing is believing.
百闻不如一见. Bǎiwén bùrúyījiàn
Walls have ears.
Heart and soul.
Do in Rome as the Romans do.
RJAugust 19, 2009, 09:19 AM
If you are really ambitious (not that you havent been already) maybe you could break some of them down. Some of the translations seem to be a stretch so understanding the logic behind them would be fun.
xiaophilAugust 19, 2009, 09:31 AM
Yeah, you are right. Actually, what I first want to do is trim them down to about 30 of the ones I think I will actually use, possibly add sample sentences, and then send them back into a flashcard format. (I will of course share.) After those get memorized, I will add more.
I would like to break them down as well. It seems to me someone around here already did. I saw a group in the CPod community awhile back. I can't get the search feature to work, though.