Ep11: Have you seen a doctor? | Lí ū khì hōo i-sing khuànn--bô? 你有去予醫生看無

Bite-size Taiwanese | Elementary
Bite-size Taiwanese | Elementary
Ep11: Have you seen a doctor? | Lí ū khì hōo i-sing khuànn--bô? 你有去予醫生看無

In this episode, we’ve learned some useful phrases about one’s health condition, body parts, and seeing a doctor. Also, we talked a little bit about the passive voice in Taiwanese and the passive marker “hōo” and “khì-hōo”.

These show notes use tables and rich formatting. Please visit the episode webpage for an optimal viewing experience.)

Lí ū khì hōo i-sing khuànn--bô? Have you gone to see a doctor?
hōo i-sing khuànn to see a doctor
kū-tsìng-thâu an old injury or disease (usually recurring), chronic symptoms
Guá bô sè-jī, io khì hōo siám--tio̍h. I wasn’t careful and sprained my back.
sè- to be careful, cautious
siám--tio̍h to sprain, to get sprained
Se-i Western medicine
Tiong-i / Hàn-i traditional Chinese medicine in general or the actual practitioner
kiān- (national) healthcare insurance
Khó-liân--neh. That’s too bad. Sorry to hear that.
Guá (ê) thâu teh thiànn. My head hurts.
thâu-khak head
king-kah shoulder
io lower back
kha-tsiah(-phiann) upper back
io-sng-puē-thiànn to have a sore and aching back
sng sore
tshiú hand or arm
Khui-to kám ē khah hó? Would having surgery help?
khui-to to operate, to have surgery
Guá pak-tóo bô sóng-khuài. My stomach isn’t feeling well.
bô sóng-khuài to not feel well, to feel uncomfortable or upset
sin-khu body

Usage note: usually when talking about the physical, concrete aspects (e.g. head, trunk, limbs).

sin-thé body; health

Usage note: usually when talking about the more abstract aspects, one’s overall health.

sin-thé kiám-tsa a physical exam or health check-up
(surname) i-su Dr. ___ (The title of doctor when addressing someone directly)

*Syllables that have been greyed out require a tone change


In this episode, we talked a little about the passive marker “hōo” (also “khì-hōo”, “khit-hōo”).

Since Taiwanese doesn’t really differentiate the active and passive verb forms and doesn’t seem to use the “explicit” passive as much as English does, there’s a range of different ways to express the passive sense. Using the passive marker “hōo” is one of them.

The word “hōo” as a verb on its own has a meaning of “to give”. As a passive marker, it can be loosely translated as: “to get/allow/have (itself) verb-ed” or “to let/allow sb. to do sth. on itself.”

  1. Subject + “khì hōo” + Verb
Subject = recipient of the action Passive marker Verb = action done on the subject
io khì hōo siám--tio̍h
(lower back) (allow/get itself) (to sprain; to be sprained)

We can also say “guá io siám--tio̍h” or “guá siám-tio̍h io”, both without any passive marker to convey a similar meaning.

  1. Subject + “hōo” (by) + Doer + Verb
Passive marker = “by” Doer Verb = action done on the subject
hōo i-sing khuànn
(to let/allow; by) (doctor) (to look at)

The structure in the example “Lí kám ū khì hōo i-sing khuànn?” is literally like “Did you go to allow a doctor to look at you?”

Both the active form “khuànn i-sing” (to see a doctor) and the passive form “hōo i-sing khuànn” (to be seen by a doctor) are commonly used to say “to see a doctor”, although grammatically the role of the subject is not the same.

To learn more about this grammar point, related expressions and other body parts, check out our workbook. It also gives you some additional vocabulary, culture and grammar explanations, and great exercises to reinforce what you’ve learned in this episode.


Our One Bite Challenge this week is a Taiwanese saying:

Tsi̍t lâng huân-ló tsi̍t iūnn, lâng huân-ló tshin-tshiūnn.

Let’s break down the sentence:

tsi̍t lâng one person, each person
huân- to worry; to be worried
iūnn thing, kind, type
lâng no one, no people
tshin-tshiūnn like, alike

This saying means: “Every person has their own worries, and they’re all different from each other.” It can be used when you want to describe a situation like “every person has different issues to deal with.” That’s life, isn’t it?

Music Credit: TeknoAXE

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