Wedding Proposal Cover
Photo Credit: VCG

A Not-So-Modest Proposal: How to Pop the Ultimate Question to Your Loved One

Learn the best (and worst) ways to propose in Chinese

Deciding to get hitched is one of the most significant choices someone can make—like opening a magic door to a new life as a husband or wife. So, you should probably take care with how you knock on said door. You don’t want to knock too meekly and you certainly don’t want to go barging through. The goal of a marriage proposal is to obtain one word: “yes.” And if you really want to get it, you’re going to need more than the obligatory ring and a fancy candlelit dinner. You’ll need the right words to go along with it.

Obviously, there isn’t a standard template for a proposal. Your little speech can be romantic or realistic, dramatic or calm, serious or humorous. As Deng Xiaoping once (apparently) said in reference to the best model for China’s economy, “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.”

The “bossy-boss (霸道总裁,bàdào zǒngcái)” style is definitely one of the most popular types of proposal nowadays. For this, we can blame popular TV romances aimed at women, featuring powerful, masculine, and sometimes overly controlling men. Toughness is supposed to be the new sexy and a seemingly non-negotiable proposal represents (on TV at least), deep and sincere love.

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author Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

Sun Jiahui is a freelance writer and former editor at The World of Chinese. She writes about Chinese language, society and culture, and is especially passionate about sharing stories of China's ancient past with a wider audience. She has been writing for TWOC for over six years, and pens the Choice Chengyu column.

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