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China is my second home, a home full of adventures and new experiences. Every city and village I visit tell a new story. Every mountain has a new route to explore. Every food stall is a delicious feast. One of the Chinese verbs I use quite often to describe my Chinese experiences is熟悉 (shúxī). It means “to know well” or “to be familiar with something or someone”. It’s a useful verb that fits almost every situation, and can be used positively or negatively.
The Chinese definition of 熟悉 is:
Shúxī de yìsi shì liǎojiě de qīngchǔ, qīngchǔ di zhīdào.
The meaning of 熟悉 is “to understand clearly”, or “to clearly know”.
There are several ways to use 熟悉 in a sentence:
1) 熟悉can be used as a verb in a sentence composed of subject, verb and object. The sentence, which can be positive or negative, indicates that the subject understands clearly, or knows the object well. The object can be anything: a place, an item, a person, an idea, an ideology, etc.
Wèile yuèdú zhè běn shū bìxū shúxī ōuzhōu de lìshǐ.
In order to read this book, one must be familiar with European history.
Ó, zhè shǒu gē wǒ bù tài shúxī.
Oh, I’m not familiar with this song.
Nà tiáo dēngshān de xiǎolù, chúle tā, shéi yě bù shúxī.
Only he knows this path to climb the mountain.
Xīn lái de lǎoshī hé xuéshēngmen zhújiàn shúxīle.
The new teacher and the students got to know each other gradually.
2) Another way to use 熟悉 in a sentence is to precede the verb with the preposition word 对(duì). In the pattern 对。。。熟悉, 对means “with”, or “the”. The pattern literally translated to: 对 (with) something or someone, the subject is (or is not) 熟悉 (familiar). Meaning: the subject of the sentence is familiar (or not) with something or someone.
Wǒ de háizi dōu duì báixuě gōngzhǔ de gùshì hěn shúxī.
All my kids know the story of Snow White pretty well.
Xīn lái de línjū duì zhèlǐ hái bù tài shúxī.
The new neighbors are still not quite familiar with the environment.
Wǒ duì bālí bǐ duì luómǎ shúxī.
I know Paris better than Rome.
3) 熟悉is a verb, but when adding the particle 的 (de) after 熟悉, it becomes an attributive meaning “acquainted”, or “known”. The noun that follows 熟悉+的 is the noun that being described as known, or unknown.
Tiāncái de zuòjiā huì miáoxiě nàxiē zìjǐ bù shúxī de qíngkuàng.
A talented writer can describe situations that he is personally not familiar with.
Rúhé yǔ bù tài shúxī de nánshēng liáotiān?
How to chat with an unfamiliar guy?
Kuòbié duōnián, tā zhōngyú fǎnhuí gè shúxī dì dìfāng.
After many years of being away, he finally returned to a familiar place.
Hé bù shúxī de rén jiāowǎng yào liúshén.
Be careful when talking to strangers.
Getting to know China and understanding the Chinese language is an exciting process. There are new words to learn, remote places to visit, and unique customs to observe. Hopefully learning the verb 熟悉 will help you 熟悉中国文化 (shúxī zhōngguó wénhuà = become familiar with the Chinese culture).