Like Fish in Water

Characters:

Pronunciation: ru(2) yu(2) de(2) shui(3)


Explanation: A metaphor to describe someone is in a very suitable position or has a very important assistant.

Tone: neutral

The Story: At the end of the East Han Dynasty, Liu Bei was in a bad position. He often failed in battles, and his army was weary as well.

He was in his fifties, and he was longing for getting some talented people that could help him to set up his own country. He then heard there was a man named Zhuge Liang who lived in a poor village but was very capable and ambitious. Then Liu Bei decided to invite Zhuge Liang to be his assistant.

They talked a lot and Zhuge gave him valuable analyses on the political situations of the time. The two men became good friends.

One day, Liu's sworn brothers Zhang Fei and Guang Yu showed their dissatisfaction. Liu explained, "I have Zhuge, just as fish has water, so please do not complain any more." Zhang Fei and Guang Yu were both ashamed of this and they kept silent.

Usage Example (Pinyin): He is like fish in water in this company.

Usage Example (English translation): I am a bad boy, so I suggest you dine in the east and sleep in the west.

Note: The spoken Chinese Mandarin language has 4 spoken tones. We have attempted to re-create those above where after each syllable we tell you (1), (2), (3), or (4) as they correspond to each of the 4 tones. We encourage you to complement your Xianzai.com Chinese Idioms newsletter with a good offline study program.