Eric had been in China for less than a year. He didn’t know much Chinese, and made mistakes from time to time. One day, he was late for his Chinese class. Here’s the conversation between him and his teacher.
Lǎoshī: Wèi shénme chídào?
老师： 为 什么 迟到？
Teacher: Why are you late?
Jīntiān chūjiā wǎn le.
Eric：今 天 出家 晚 了。
I become a monk late today. (I left home late today.)
After Eric’s reply, his classmates within earshot exploded into laughter. Can you guess why?
In actuality, Eric wanted to express that he had left home late, but he used the wrong word. In Chinese, although 出(Chū) means leave and 家(jiā) means home, “出家(Chūjiā)” itself means to give up the luxuries in life decide to become a monk or a nun. The Chinese word Eric should have used is “出门(Chūmén),” which means to leave home. So next time you want to tell someone that you left the house late, you can say, “我出门晚了！(Wǒ chūmén wǎn le!)”
Duì bù qǐ, ràng nǐ jiǔ děng le!
A: 对 不 起，让 你 久 等 了！
Sorry I made you wait for so long!
Méi guānxi, shì wǒ zìjǐ chūmén zǎo le!
B: 没 关 系，是 我 自己 出门 早 了！
That’s okay, I left the house a little early!