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Tuesday, 15 May 2018 18:02


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"Sharp" is one of those wonderful words where we have one word in English, but there are two words for it in Chinese.


Sharp is used to describe something with a pointed or fine edge. Sharp things can prick, poke, slice, and cut. 

This knife is sharp. Its edge can slice fruit or open an envelope. It can cut your finger if you are not careful. The Chinese word for this is 尖利  Jiānlì or just 利 .

Scissors are also sharp. They are used to cut a length of material or paper.

scissors and knife

This tack can poke and prick. It is used to attach papers to corkboard. It is sharp so that it can stick through things. The Chinese word for this is 尖锐 Jiānruì.



Sample sentences:

Don't let Billy handle the knife; it's too sharp.

Be careful handling those sharp tacks--they can poke you! 


In English, we use common items and words in idioms. Today, I was teaching Phil in Chiayi, in South Taiwan. His English has greatly improved through taking classes and I wanted to compliment him on his improvement. We have been studying metaphors and similies in English. I asked him to write a simile, and I also used a simile, "Phil is sharp as a tack." To be "as sharp as a tack" means to be intelligent or smart. In contrast, to be dull is to be stupid or unintelligent. Sharp can also mean smart. So, we have the idiom, "sharp as a tack," to compare an intelligent person with an item that is very sharp.


"To sharpen" means "to make sharp," and it can also mean "to improve." For example, if you want to sharpen your reading skills, read more of our blog posts! To sharpen your listening skills, listen to some of my podcasts!

And if you REALLY want to sharpen your English, join one of our online classes! Contact Scott today to get started!


Hebrews 4:12 says the Bible is "sharper than a two-edged sword." In the verse, the word of God pierces the soul, spirit, bones, and marrow to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. In other words, the Bible metaphorically cuts us in half to show us our true selves. 

Hebrews 4:12 ESV

Hebrews 4:12 Simplified Chinese

Hebrews 4:12 Traditional Chinese


To make things even more interesting, "sharp" also shows a music note that is half a step above the regular note. That is, the black keys on a piano are sharps. However, a note that is half a step low is NOT called dull, but it is called a flat

Keep your mind and your English skills sharp--sign up for an online English class today!



Read 18289 times Last modified on Thursday, 17 May 2018 16:33
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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