Faster Than a Speeding Horse

There’s nothing faster than a horse in Chinese, right? Saying you’ll do something “on a horse” doesn’t mean you’ll be wearing Old Spice while you do it, but that you’ll do it immediately. There is something faster, though – fire.

Here’s the usual words you’d use to express immediacy:

馬上(马上)

Pinyin: mǎ shàng
English: immediately, right away
立馬(立马 lì mǎ) also used

馬上幫你做(我马上帮你做)
mǎshàng bāng nǐ zuò
I’ll help you right away

If you want to express even more speed than horseback, then you can say ‘at the speed of fire’:

火速

Pinyin: huǒ sù
English: at top speed

Here’s an example of 火速 from a Mandarin Sherlock Holmes book I was looking through today:

警察接到報案後,火速趕到現場(警察接到报案后,火速赶到现场)
Jǐngchá jiē dào bàoàn hòu, huǒsù gǎn dào xiànchǎng
After receiving the report, the police officer hurried to the scene at top speed

Even though 光速(guāng sù)”the speed of light” might be faster than 火速, you can’t use this in its place, except maybe jokingly.

One response to “Faster Than a Speeding Horse

  1. 火速 brings to mind another commonly used phrase 火烧屁股^_^
    If one’s bum is on fire, one just has to run.

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