We all daydream, it’s impossible to stop, and probably beneficial so long as you don’t do it too much, or at critical times. I actually ‘zoned out’ a few times while deciding how to approach this post, which was originally one part of a larger article until I split it up narrowing the focus. And that’s what this post is about now, words to describe focus, or lack thereof.
The following two words, in my experience, don’t have a clear distinction in English. In both cases daydreaming would probably be fine to use. Though for the first word I’ve chosen ‘zone out’ as a suitable definition, since the meaning of this term is to be simply not paying attention, to be in an empty state, rather than actually thinking about something else, or ‘dreaming’.
发 means to show something, a facial expression, which in this case is empty or expressionless, 呆, which also means stupid or foolish.
Qǐng nǐ zài shuō yīcì, wǒ gāng zài fādāile
Could you please repeat that? I just zoned out for moment then.
It sounds a little strange in English, but I often hear people say something along these lines.
This word is exactly the same a the English daydream, 白日 being daytime, and 梦 being a dream. You make a dream 做梦, so a suitable example would go something like:
Wǒ shàngkè wúliáo shí dūhuì zuò báirìmèng
When I’m bored in class I always daydream
If you have just become distracted from what you should be doing then use 分心 instead. 分 means to divide and 心 is your heart, so if you divide your heart amongst many things you can’t be focused on one, so you must be distracted. Maybe you don’t want to admit you were 在发呆中 so you can use this instead 😉
Shǐyòng diànnǎo gōngzuò shí, jiù hěn róngyì bèi wǎng lù fēnxīn
When using the computer for work, it’s easy to become distracted by the internet
That’s enough distraction, so how about actually focusing on something? This word also uses heart 心, but instead of dividing it, we focus it.
Zhuānxīn shì chénggōng de yāo sù
Focus is an essential factor of success
A more down-to-earth, 口語 way to say the same thing:
Rúguǒ nǐ yào chénggōng dehuà, nǐ yīdìng yào zhuānxīn
If you want to be successful you’ve got to focus
There are more ways to say focus and pay attention, such as 专注, and 注意, so if you’d like to add more examples please leave a comment.