Most embarassing mistakes when trying to speak Mandarin?

There were so many for me, but the worst was probably right at the beginning when I went for lunch in Beijing after class and wanted to order food in the university canteen. I couldn’t understand the menu so thought I just ask for something we had just learned in class: beef
Unfortunately I confused the words for 牛 and 女 and instead of 牛肉 asked for 女肉.
After being told that they dont serve this I repeatedly asked again to be served “fried woman’s meat” (I didnt know what else to ask for) and even wrote down 女肉 on a piece of paper thinking maybe just my pronunciation was wrong. After that I was banned from eating at that canteen.

I never made that mistake again…

Anyone else?


I think the classic one early on is saying 請吻 instead of 請問… i.e. please kiss me instead of excuse me …


Haha yes that one is dangerous.

During a Chinese lesson at uni. Had to describe a classmate as an exercise. Instead of saying about my chatty classmate that he was loud (吵 chǎo) I said he was ugly (丑 chǒu). Dead silence in the classroom and I didn’t get why until someone told me😱


oh my god!!! :joy::joy: I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to open my mouth in front of Chinese people after this thread :joy::joy::joy:


haha, it sounds scary, but it actually is not. Chinese people realize that foreigners do not speak fluent Mandarin and struggle with tones. In case you say something embarrassing they will assume you made a mistake or they misunderstood you due to your pronunciation.
You will never get into real trouble. A few smiles are the worst thing that can happen really.