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How do you say ‘think’ in Chinese

There are a few words in Chinese that can be translated as ‘think’. I’ll explain them in this post.

Some of the time, 想 (xiǎng),觉得 (juéde) and 认为 (rènwéi) can be used interchangeably, but they do have slightly different meanings

想 means ‘think’ – referring to a thought/idea
(想 also means ‘to want to’ do something or ‘miss’)
觉得 means ‘feel’ – referring to a feeling
认为 means ‘to believe that’ – referring to an opinion

我想你是对的
Wǒ xiǎng nǐ shì duì de
I think you are right.

我觉得你是对的
Wǒ juéde nǐ shì duì de
I feel that you are right.

想 xiǎng means ‘think’ – referring to a thought or idea

我想这件事很重要
Wǒ xiǎng zhè jiàn shì hěn zhòngyào
I think that this is important.

我想你应该去工作
Wǒ xiǎng nǐ yīnggāi qù gōngzuò
I think you should go and work.

In these situations, we could also use 认为 (rènwéi)

我认为这件事很重要
Wǒ rènwéi zhè jiàn shì hěn zhòngyào
I think that this is important.

我认为你应该去工作
Wǒ rènwéi nǐ yīnggāi qù gōngzuò
I think you should go and work.

Or, we could also use 觉得 (juéde)

我觉得这件事很重要
Wǒ juéde zhè jiàn shì hěn zhòngyào
I think that this is important.

我觉得你应该去工作
Wǒ juéde nǐ yīnggāi qù gōngzuò
I think you should go and work.

Unrelated to the meaning of ‘think’, 想 (xiǎng) can also mean ‘want to do something’ or ‘miss’

我想跟你一起去
Wǒ xiǎng gēn nǐ yīqǐ qù
I want to go with you.

我想你
Wǒ xiǎng nǐ
I miss you.

However, 觉得 (juéde) literally means ‘to feel’ and can be used in a more literal way.

你觉得怎么样?
Nǐ juéde zěnme yàng?
How do you feel?

我觉得很累
Wǒ juéde hěn lèi
I feel really tired out.

In these sentences, you cannot use 想 or 认为

Don’t translate ‘don’t think’ as 不想 – this means ‘don’t want to’ or ‘don’t miss’

我不想跟你一起去
Wǒ bù xiǎng gēn nǐ yīqǐ qù
I don’t want to go with you.

我不想你
Wǒ bù xiǎng nǐ
I don’t miss you.

You can translate ‘don’t think’ as 觉得。。不 or 认为。。不

I think we shouldn’t do it that way/like that.

我觉得不应该这么做
Wǒ juéde bù yīnggāi zhème zuò

我认为不应该这么做
Wǒ rènwéi bù yīnggāi zhème zuò