Chengyu Explanations: 无能为力

无能为力 describes a situation where the subject is entirely unable to do something. The following post describes the meaning of this 成语 in detail.

无能为力.jpg

Characters 无能为力
Pin Yin wú néng wéi lì
Pleco Definition 1. impotent
2. powerless
3. helpless
HSK Level HSK 6

Explanation

无能为力 describes a situation where the subject is entirely unable to do something. This may be because (1) the subject cannot use his power to do something or (2) the subject’s power is diminished to the extent he cannot do something. The “power” indicated by the character 力 may be either physical strength or more abstract (e.g. abilities rendered inoperable due to changing circumstantial realities).

Grammatically, 无能为力 most frequently operates as an adjective (e.g. 无能为力的感觉,无能为力的人).

It may also be used as a verb. It is often used with the change of state particle 了 to emphasise that the current powerlessness is a new situation (i.e. 无能为力了). 无能为力 usually cannot take an object.


Example Sentences

我总是感到无能为力。
I always feel powerless.

她离开上海以后,我不能说服她回我这里,心里有种无能为力的感觉。
After she left Shanghai, I was unable to persuade her to return here, and I felt a kind of helplessness.

不好意思,真的没有办法,我无能为力了。
I’m sorry, but there’s really nothing that can be done. I’m powerless to help you.


References and Further Reading

1. 成语词典 (新世纪版2011修订), p. 718.
2. 新HSK词汇突破: 6级 (2013), p.383-384.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s