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Chinese Grammar: Make sure with 千万

Lupishu’s puzzled. He knows and as numbers but he keeps hearing Yocha use them in front of his orders, to ensure Nincha does what he’s asked to. Surprisingly enough, it seems to work and helps Nincha keep out of trouble.
So, what’s the link between these big numbers and a word that is imperative enough to prevent bad results from happening and get others acting fast in urgent situations? Imagine Lupishu’s excitement when Yocha told him 千万 can also be used to “make sure” you understand the situation. 千万, let’s explore you further.

千万 literally and figuratively

千万, taken quite literally, is a large amount. is “thousand”, and is “10 thousand” and together, their literal meaning is “10 million”. In fact, 千万 represents amounts so big sometimes, another meaning of it is “countless”.

What does that have to do with 千万's meaning of “making certain” of something? If someone talked to you about something a thousand million times, surely you’d end up thinking it must be really really important, no? From there, it’s not hard to picture why 千万 also means “to make sure” or to “make certain” in Chinese. It’s quite a vivid word to stress a situation and to give warnings.

千万 only likes imperative sentences

千万 is great to wake up your sentence and reinforce your meaning. One rule: this word must always be used in an imperative way.


[千万 + Warning/Command/Reminder...]

Use it to:
- Alert: give someone a warning, a command or an order not to do something.
- Give a reminder: remind someone they need to make sure to do something.

It’s straightforward to use: just tack it onto the beginning of your sentence. This convenient word doesn’t change the sentence structure and gets along well with everyone.

Give strong reminders with 千万

When using 千万 to give a reminder, sentences will usually be affirmative, and will always be preceded by 千万. You'll often see or other active verbs in the sentence.


火车 千万 小心
Be careful when you take the train!

千万 记得 按时 吃药
Make sure you take your medicine on time!

千万 注意 安全
Make sure to pay attention to your safety!

千万 完成 作业 电影
Be sure to finish your homework first, only then can you watch a movie.

Give imperious orders and alerts

To reinforce your meaning of ordering something not to do something, 千万 is very frequently associated with , 不要 or 不能.


千万 告诉
Be sure not to tell him!

千万 迟到
Make sure you’re not late!

千万不能 相信 陌生人
Be sure not to believe strangers!

千万不要 放弃
Make sure not to give up!

Ready to go practice?

千万 is a B2 grammar point in Mandarin Chinese. Browse all our other Chinese grammar lessons for more grammar points at all levels.

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