Short Story: 海上和床上 – On the sea and in bed

This dialogue between a man and a sailor drives home a quick life lesson: there’s risk in anything you do, so there’s no point in trying to avoid danger entirely. HSK 2-3.

Ooookay, glad that’s over. Had a huge 3-week ordeal with my hosting company, they corrupted a server and screwed up the backups, I had to rebuild a bunch of the posts from scratch, some of my early data was lost, and a bunch of comments were lost as well, especially on the more recent posts. Sorry if you had something to say and it got deleted. Luckily, I had local copies of most of the posts, so everything should basically be working again. Thanks for sticking with me. So, back to business.

Today, a story for beginners (HSK 2-3) that’s mostly comprised of dialogue between a man and a sailor. The story drives home a quick life lesson: there’s risk in anything you do, so there’s no point in trying to avoid danger entirely.

Source here.

Some language stuff

Most of the harder words here are ocean-related. You probably already know the word for ocean (海), here are a few others:

水手 shuǐ shǒu – Sailor

西洋 xī yáng – Western Seas. Doesn’t refer to a particular ocean, just the ocean lands that are west of the South China Seas.

风暴 fēng bào – Storm

印度洋 yìn dù yáng – Indian Ocean

捕鱼 bǔ yú – Catch fish / fishing

And a couple of other important phrases:

既然如此 jì rán rú cǐ – “Since it is like that…” or “In that case…”

永远也不 yǒng yuǎn yě bù – I saved the hardest one for last, here. This whole phrase means “would never”. But this may seem strange to you, because if you look at each word individually, here’s what it says:

永远 – Forever
也 – also
不 – no / not

The reason “forever” is used, is because it is referencing an event in the future, rather than the past. In Chinese, “have never” (in the past) and “would never” (in the future) are expressed with different words. “Have never” is usually expressed with 从来没有, sometimes shortened to 从没 or 从未. But if you’re talking about something you would not do in the future, you use 永远不, sometimes shortened to 永不. The 也 here doesn’t mean “also”, it is basically a strengthening word, it just makes the “never” stronger.
















Show English translation »
By the sea, a man came across a sailor who had just returned from the ocean. They started to chat. The man asked the sailor: “Do you like the sea?”

“Of course.” The sailor answered: “And my family is just like me, they all love the sea.”

“Where’s your father now?”

“He died in the ocean.”

“Your grandfather?”

“He died in the Western Seas.”

“Your brother…”

“He was lost during a big storm, at that time he was catching fish in the Indian Ocean.”

“In that case,” the man said, “if I were you, I would certainly never go to sea.”

“Are you willing to tell me where your father died?” the sailor asked the man.

“Oh, he stopped breathing in bed.”

“And your grandfather?”

“He also died in bed.”

“In that case,” the sailor said, “if I were you, I’d would never go to bed.”

26 replies on “Short Story: 海上和床上 – On the sea and in bed”

Thanks for working to get this back up. It is the best little Chinese website my friend and I have used.
–Midwest USA

Kendra, I love reading these stories. I feel my comprehension jumps every time I finish one. Thank you for putting so much effort and time into preparing these for us.

umm how does the man know what family members the sailor had…(like his brother, or he guessed) and why did he only mention male members….

Hi! Just found this web,love it! I used to speak fluent chinese back in kinder when i was living in Singapore, i moved to a different country so i lost it all, sadly. Mum is very disappointed. I want to prove her that i can re-learn chinese again, can you please make more of these? 🙂

I am a Chinese student. I want to improve my English level, If you want to study Chinese, you can contact me. We can learn from each other

This does a lot more good for a lot more people than even Kendra may realise. Thank you, it’s great to be able to have original, pinyin, translation together and analyse / learn.

Wow! …This Is My First story of mandarin world. and i loved it too bad!! …I’m gonna use this story to make my speech beautifull through out my life!

Hi there, how are you?

I just want to say thank you for putting this site together. I am just starting to learn Mandarin so this is great to practise reading. I really hope you continue your ‘pet project’

Do you plan to be updated the site with new stories and possible some audio for each story. That would be great.

Also, do you have printable versions of each story.

Thank you


I just started to learn chinese. Glad to find it. Woww this website is truly amazing. If it also has audio. I would give 10 stars. Anyway, it’s still amazing. I love the lesson in the story too! 非常好。 谢谢你

Good day! Just discovered your site. The explanations at the beginning and the translations are clear, intuitive, and really helpful, especially for a beginner learner like me.

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