How Much is Your Year-end Bonus?


年会(nián huì) is an annual meeting held by most Chinese companies or institutes.  The spectacular event aims at marking an end for the past year and inspiring employees to work harder in the coming new year. With an atmosphere similar to a family party, 年会 is where people can enjoy a talent show from their colleagues, and sometime expect a bit more (for example, prizes or bonuses).

xià zhōu wǒ men jiù yào kāi nián huì le nǐ zhǔn bèi le shén me ná shǒu xì?
Simon: 下周我们就要开年会了,你准备了什么拿手戏?
Next week we will have the annual meeting. What talents are you going to showcase?

jīn nián méi yǒu  jiù děng zhe zuì hòu gōng sī fā nián zhōng jiǎng ne.
Xiao Lin: 今年没有,就等着最后公司发年终奖呢。
Nothing in particular this year. I’m just waiting for the year-end bonus.

hā hā zhè kě shì zhòng tóu xì a
Simon: 哈哈,这可是重头戏啊
Haha, that would be the climax of the party.

bú guò jīn nián de nián zhōng jiǎng gāi bú huì pào tāng ba nà jiù tài sǎo xìng le
Xiao Lin: 不过今年的年终奖该不会泡汤吧,那就太扫兴了。
But I am concerned that the year-end bonus might be up the spout. If so, that would be such a bummer.


“拿手”(ná shǒu) means “be expert in or good at (something)”. For example, “拿手菜” is specialty (dish). “我们的乐队在演奏拿手歌曲时表现出众。(Our band shines when we play the songs we know best.) In the dialogue, “戏” means “performance”, so “拿手戏” refers to “a certain performance one is good at”. By extension, it means “skills or talents one is known for”.

“年” is “year”, “终” is “end”, and “奖” is “bonus”, so the word 年终奖(nián zhōng jiǎng) is year-end bonus.


“重头戏”(zhòng tóu xì), literally meaning “heavy head drama”, refers to the most important or the best part of an event. For example, 我不想错过这场比赛的重头戏。(I don’t want to miss the best part of the game.) 在北京观光的重头戏就在紫禁城。(The highlight of traveling in Beijing has to be the Forbidden City.)


“泡汤(pào tāng )” literally means “to soak in soup”. If something is soaked in soup for a long time, it becomes useless or dissolves. Therefore, this word means “to have one’s hopes dashed”, “fall through” or “up in smoke”. For example, 又一份好工作泡汤了。(Another nice job goes down the drain.)