Children’s Story: The Doctor and the Monkey

Eeps – bad medicine! In this story, the mischievous Monkey – always a trickster figure in Chinese stories – pulls the wool over Little Bear’s eyes. If Little Bear was American, he’d sue the hospital for negligence and rake in millions of baskets of peaches.

Though the majority of this text is very basic reading, there are three phrases which jump out at me as being difficult, or words I couldn’t find in basic dictionaries.

理所应当 – lǐ suǒ yīng dāng This phrase means to feel something is well-deserved, that something has been earned through hard work, usually when it actually hasn’t. So I guess that roughly translates to ‘taking a reward for granted’? In this story, Monkey feels that his payment is well-earned or well-deserved. But as readers, we know Monkey doesn’t deserve anything at all – he’s taking that payment for granted when he didn’t really earn it. Consider this phrase in another context:

别人帮助你那是义气,你不能当作是理所应当的。 – “When other people help you it’s in the spirit of self-sacrifice, you shouldn’t consider this something you deserve as a matter of course.”

甜头 – Though this looks like two words, the first meaning “sweet” and the second meaning “head” or “brain”, it’s actually a colloquialism that just means “sweet flavor” or “pleasant taste”.

贪念 – These two characters also seem separate, they don’t appear together in my dictionary, but they’re actually one word. According to Baidu Bai Ke, the Baidu dictionary (a Chinese-language resource for word meanings and derivations), 贪念 tān niàn just means “greedy” (I presume the “念” probably adds the meaning “idea” or “thoughts” here, so 贪念 could be read as “greedy thoughts”).

You can read the original here.

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Show English translation »
Monkey went to the hospital on a lark, and entered the doctor’s room. At that moment, the doctor wasn’t in, and he’d left his [doctor’s] clothes in the room.

Monkey thought this would be fun, so he put on the doctor’s clothes, that white lab coat we see so often. Just then a little bear came to the hospital to see the doctor. This was the little bear’s first time at the hospital, and he didn’t know what hospitals were like [lit: didn’t know the hospital situation]. All he knew was that doctors wear white lab coats.

The little bear had shown up at the hospital carrying a basket of peaches (this was the payment he had prepared to give to the doctor), and he happened to walk into the room where Monkey was. Little Bear didn’t know Monkey, but he recognized the white lab coat, so he asked Monkey to examine him.

Monkey originally just [intended to] have a bit of fun, but when he saw Little Bear’s basket, he coveted it fiercely. So Monkey put on a big show of examining Little Bear, and accepted his well-earned basket of peaches. As to whether or not Monkey actually cured Little Bear, we will never know.

However, after Monkey tasted that sweetness, he often stole into the hospital, taking advantage of the doctor’s absence, and examined patients. Later, Monkey simply made himself one of those kind of white lab coats.

Ai! We don’t know how many people were examined by Monkey!

41 replies on “Children’s Story: The Doctor and the Monkey”

Hi! I just wanted to say “Thanks!” for all your articles, especially the ones for beginners. It’s so hard to find Chinese content for beginners, even in 2013! I can’t believe I’m reading children stories… Yet, I am very grateful for these. So, 谢谢你!

I have the same opinion of jmtahk previous comment. Also a beginner that can with a little dificulty read beginner texts, so that they are very appropiate. Thanks for posting this material.
Bye bye from Málaga Spain.

Sadly, I don’t have control over what pops up in the translation boxes, that’s a beta script graciously given to me by another developer, so the pop-ups do sometimes make mistakes.

Fiona, these are not typos. Annotations are done automatically by a program. 了 can be pronounced either as le or as liǎo depending on the context. That’s why you see both pronunciations on the pop-up.

Hi Kendra,
I followed a link about Zhajiangmian which led me to your site and exploring further, I found your Chinese reading practice articles. So interesting! Our whole family is taking Chinese lessons via Skype so finding extra material is always exciting. Thank you for all your work!

I’m a Vietnamese person. what a good thing you have given me! It is useful for not only practicing reading chinese but also useful for reproducing more inferences about the real life. Thank you very much!

really helpful, im learning chinese and it is great. I love that you have also put in the translations. 🙂 very happy with this website. Thankyou very much

Thank you so much for taking the time to share these stories! To find something both beginner and enjoyable is rare. I really appreciate your efforts! Really helping me with reading, vocabhlary, colloquialisms and culture!

These are pretty good, I never learned simplified so sometimes it can be tough for me, but I figure the more I read the better acquainted I will become with simplified characters. This is exactly the type of site I was looking for. I also hope to find some good books to read, or news articles, or something to supplement my vocabulary. Keep up the good work!

Many thanks for your postings!!! Started learning with the mokney story 🙂 But can’t wait till I start learning the rest :).


I have one question on this text: are you sure the second sentence shouldn’t be “正好大夫不在,衣服也落了在房间内。”, with 了 and 在 in this order? I can’t find a compound verb like “落在” anywhere, so this is a bit confusing to me.

thank you for all your materials. you’re great.

Gee, I like this story. I will try to retell it to my brothers. They will like it too. It is a very funny monkey.

Wow I hope no one was like actualy sick or something like a broken leg. So at the end of the story when it says monkey got his own “white lab clothes, does it mean he was already grown up or is he still a kid? Anyhow thanks again. P.S. I’ve read every single one before this one and there all great story’s so THANKS ONCE AGAIN!!!!! whoooo!! 🙂 => =]

Thank you for the good story! It definitely helps my Chinese writing skills! (I’m writing them down to improve my handwriting)

Where are you getting those stories from anyway?

Thanks for this. I’m reading this with my 2nd grade class. It’s fun showing them the text in Chinese; then seeing it written in English. The kids are having fun writing words in both languages.

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