“jiā yóu” (加油) is an encouraging thing to say. Unlike English, these words can be used in any situation where encouragement is needed. Whenever a friend is experiencing a challenge (math test, a race, extra busy day, etc) you can say “jiā yóu”. It means you have confidence in them, you want them to give it their best, and you are on their side. I wish English had such a word and Chinese people feel the same way because it is so easy to mistranslate. The literal translation is jiā = “add” and yóu = “oil”, which is like our phrase: “pour on gas”
|climber||Wǒ yóu diǎn hàipà!||我有点害怕||I’m a bit scared|
|spotters||jiā yóu! jiā yóu!||加油！加油！||You got it! You got it!|
|有点||yóu diǎn||a little|
|加油||jiā yóu||add oil|
Note: you may be wondering why the “o” in “yóu diǎn” is not 3rd tone. This is because of tone change. Effective Chinese materials display pinyin in “spoken tone” rather than “dictionary tone”. When the spoken tone differs from dictionary tone we change the tone marked vowel to a slightly lighter shade.