As Expected – No-Nonsense Chinese Idioms

Here’s an idiom to say that something happened just as you expected it to. In normal conversation you might say something like 跟我想像的一样(跟我想像的一樣 gēn wǒ xiǎngxiàng de yīyàng)which means “the same as I thought”, but this is seven characters, as opposed to the four of the following idiom.

不出所料

Pinyin: bù chū suǒ liào
English: As expected, within expectations

I like this idiom because it’s one that can be broken down easily to see what it actually means, and in doing so I learnt some new words for ‘presume/expect’. First off, 不出 means to ‘not come out’, or here more like “not outside of”, 所 is “that/of” (it’s one of those characters with many meanings and uses), then last 料 is short for 料想(liàoxiǎng), or 预料(yùliào), both of which contain the meaning of expectation – in other words ‘not outside of expectations’, or ‘as expected’. For ‘expect’ I usually would have used 預期(预期 yù qí)so it was good to not only learn the meaning of the idiom but also a couple of new words in the process.

Here some examples of this idiom in use:

他很聪明,期末考不出所料考100分 (他很聰明,期末考不出所料考100分)

Tā hěn cōngmíng, qímò kǎo bùchūsuǒliào kǎo 100 fēn

He’s really clever, as expected he got 100% on the end of semester test.

我们昨天喝很多酒,今天早上不出所料大家都宿醉了(我們昨天喝很多酒,今天早上不出所料大家都宿醉了)

Wǒmen zuótiān hē hěnduō jiǔ, jīntiān zǎoshang bùchūsuǒliào dàjiā dōu sùzuì le

We drank a lot yesterday and this morning, as expected, we all have hangovers.

3 responses to “As Expected – No-Nonsense Chinese Idioms

  1. Thanks, Dave, I’ll try to remember that one, although I have never spent much time trying to remember many chengyu.

    果然 (guǒrán) is a similar (even shorter!) phrase, also good to know. Two definitions given by the ABC dictionary are “Sure enough” (which, at the beginning of a sentence, is very native English usage, at least in the USA, particularly for a more emotion-laden sentence), and “as expected” (which strikes me as a perhaps more natural translation when 果然 appears later, in a more calmly spoken sentence).

    1. Yeah, you’re right. When I first saw this idiom its usage was more along the lines of “According to plan”, in response to a building project being completed on time. So in this sense its use is a bit more formal (as a lot of Mandarin idioms are), and 果然 more suitable for everyday use.

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