Sharing your own opinions in Chinese is the next step to being able to communicate with friends about topics that are important to you. Saying '我知道' (I know) or '我明白' (I understand) has its limitations and learning some words and phrases that will help you give opinions or advice.
想 (xiǎng) – to think
The 想 (xiǎng) character has multiple meanings such as 'to think', 'to miss' or 'believe something'. 想 (xiǎng) is composed of 3 parts; 心 (xīn) meaning 'heart', 木 (mù) which is 'tree' and an 'eye' 目 (mù).Together, they create phonetics and meaning. 木 (mù) and 目 (mù) also create the character 相 (xiàng) meaning 'appearance'. The origin of 相 (xiàng)suggests that a person would need to stand behind a 'tree' and peer out from behind it, suggesting the need to look and check for danger. 相 (xiàng) together with 心 (xīn) producing 想 (xiǎng) could refer to the idea of 'examining' the 'heart or mind'.
You can read more about characters containing the 'heart radical' in our article 心字底: The Heart Radical
你心里在想什么？ (nǐ xīn li zài xiǎng shén me) What are you thinking?
我想我们最好还是坐飞机。(wǒ xiǎng wǒ men zuì hǎo hái shì zuò fēi jī) I think flying is best.
If you want to negate 'think' to say 'I don't think…' then we can use the phrase 我想。。。不。(wǒ xiǎng…bù).
Although it is tempting to use it, 我不想。。。(wǒ bù xiǎng…) is not correct and is used to express the phrase 'I do not want..'
我想他不帅。(wǒ xiǎng tā bù shuài) I don't think he is handsome.
看 (kàn) – to look, consider, think
If you can imagine someone covering their eyes 目 (mù) from the sun with their hand 手 (shǒu) and tada, you have the 看 (kàn) character.
Although this character is mostly used to describe the verb 'to look', it is also used to mean 'consider'.
你看这件事应该怎么办？(nǐ kàn zhè jiàn shì yīng gāi zěn me bàn) How do you think we should deal with this situation?
觉得 (jué de) – to feel, consider
To understand the 觉 character a little more, we can take a look at the traditional character, 覺. If you look at the bottom radical, it contains a traditional version of the character 见 (jiàn) meaning 'to see'. It makes more sense when you see that originally, 见 (jiàn) was an 'eye' 目 (mù) on top of a 'person' 人 (rén).
我觉得这没问题。(wǒ jué de zhè méi wèn tí) I think it is alright.
说 (shuō) 'say'
Although normally, 说 (shuō) means 'to say', when combined with 你 (nǐ), in the bigram 你说 (nǐ shuō) it translates to 'in your opinion..'
你说我应该选哪门课？(nǐ shuō wǒ yīng gāi xuǎn nǎ mén kè) In your opinion, which course should I choose?
以为 (yǐ wéi) and 认为 (rèn wéi) can often be used in the same context and have a very similar meaning.
认为 (rèn wéi) – to believe, to suppose, to consider
我认为他是对的。(wǒ rèn wéi tā shì duì de) I think he is right.
认为 (rèn wéi) can also be used to talk about something you thought was true, but were mistaken about.
以为 (yǐ wéi) – to believe, suppose, to be under the impression
我以为你今天不会来了。(wǒ yǐ wéi nǐ jīn tiān bù huì lái le.) I was under the impression you weren't coming today.
相信 (xiāng xìn) – to be convinced
我相信我们可以成功的。(wǒ xiāng xìn wǒ men kě yǐ chéng gōng de) I am convinced we can succeed.
妈妈特别相信草药。(mā ma tè bié xiāng xìn cǎo yào) Mother was a great believer in herbal medicines.
认定 (rèn dìng) – to maintain that something is true
我仍然认定联队会夺冠。(wǒ réng rán rèn dìng lián duì huì duó guàn) I still say United are a dead cert to win.
信仰 (xìn yǎng) – to believe in (religion), conviction
我信仰自由。(wǒ xìn yǎng zì yóu) I believe in freedom.
建议 (jiàn yì) to advise or urge
他一再建议我要早点睡觉。(tā yī zài jiàn yì wǒ yào zǎo diǎn shuì jiào) He advised me many times to go to sleep earlier.
Refusing to give an Opinion:
If you don't have any particularly strong feelings about something, or would rather not say, you can use the following phrase.
我没意见。(wǒ méi yì jiàn) I don't have an opinion
没办法 (méi bàn fǎ) – nothing can be done
这是没办法的事，纯属巧合。(zhè shì méi bàn fǎ de shì, chún shǔ qiǎo hé.) Nothing can be done about this matter, it's purely coincidence.
随便 (suí biàn) – do as you please