Learn Chinese Words: 南辕北辙 (nán yuán běi zhé)

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

南辕北辙 (nán yuán běi zhé) is an ancient idiom, originating from a story in ancient China. It means taking actions that are opposite to one's goals and ultimately failing to achieve them.


“nán” means south
“yuán” means two straight logs for driving livestock in the front of the car.
“bei” means north.
“zhé” means the wheels of a vehicle roll over the ground and leave marks on it.


During the Warring States period, King Wei of Wei decided to attack the capital of the state of Zhao, Handan. The courtiers opposed this decision, and an official named Ji Liang told a story to him: a man driving a carriage to the state of Chu drove northward, and thus he went further and further away from his destination. The competition for supremacy is not won by military might, but by winning the hearts of the people. Going to war is like driving a carriage towards the south while sitting in a carriage facing north. King Wei of Wei decided not to go to war.


To achieve success, it is necessary to have a clear direction and goal from the outset in order to fully leverage one's favorable conditions, otherwise it will only have the opposite effect. If one aims to achieve a certain goal but acts in a contrary manner, then such actions will only lead to greater distance from success.


  1. His plan sounds great, but in reality, it's completely off track and difficult to achieve.
    tā de jì huà tīng qǐ lái hěn hǎo, dàn shí jì shàng shì nán yuán běi zhé, nán yǐ shí xiàn.
  2. Our goal is to encourage more people to use environmentally friendly products, and your actions are completely the opposite.
    wǒ men de mù biāo shì ràng gèng duō de rén shǐ yòng huán bǎo chǎn pǐn, nǐ zhè yàng zuò jiǎn zhí shì nán yuán běi zhé.
  3. You want to go east, but he wants to go west. It's like driving in opposite directions, we can't agree.
    nǐ xiǎng wǎng dōng zǒu, tā què yào wǎng xī qù, zhēn shì nán yuán běi zhé, wú fǎ xiàng tóu.

Sign up for a free trial now!

FAQ / Tips

We offer a referral program that rewards both you and your friend with free classes.To participate, simply refer a friend to our program and once they successfully enroll, both you and your friend will receive free classes.We appreciate your support and look forward to helping you and your friend achieve your language learning goals.
Our Chinese learning method is focused on personalized and interactive one-on-one lessons with a professional teacher. The lessons are conducted live through our online teaching platform, which allows you to see and talk to the teacher. You can schedule the lessons at a time that suits you, and the teacher will tailor the lesson content to your specific needs and goals. During the lesson, you can ask questions and receive feedback from the teacher to ensure you understand and master the knowledge and skills being taught. We also have a student service team and academic coordinator team to assist you with your learning and provide any additional support you may need.Overall, our method is designed to be flexible, personalized, and interactive to help you achieve your language learning goals.
Before starting any Chinese language course, the teacher will assess your Chinese language proficiency level through a placement test.This helps to determine your current level of understanding and ability in Chinese, and allows the teacher to tailor the course materials and teaching methods to your specific needs and goals. The placement test may include assessments of your reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills.Based on the results of the test, the teacher will be able to recommend an appropriate course of study for you.
We offer highly flexible class schedules that cater to your needs, with lessons available from 7am to 10pm Beijing time, seven days a week.This allows you to conveniently take lessons at any time and from any location that suits your schedule.
Our instructors are highly skilled and experienced experts in Chinese language teaching, with proficiency in multiple languages. They hold at least a bachelor's degree in teaching Chinese as a foreign language, and possess extensive teaching experience and knowledge. Through a rigorous selection process and ongoing training, our instructors are equipped to provide students with authentic pronunciation, accurate language usage, and cultural background knowledge, all of which are essential for achieving mastery of the Chinese language.
As a first - time student, if you are not completely satisfied with our service, we offer a cancellation policy that allows you to cancel your subscription before the first month. In such cases, we only charge a one - month fee and refund the remaining balance to you as soon as possible.We strive to ensure that our customers are fully satisfied with our service and are committed to providing a hassle - free refund process.