A Sea of People
This Chengyu is a particularly useful Chengyu for daily life. Typically translated to 'a sea of people', or more simply 'lots of people'; 'people as far as the eye can see'. 人山人海 is used to describe busy places. Specifically, the Chengyu is used when describing large gatherings of people in given areas, such as a popular tourist destination.
People Mountain; People Sea
人山人海 can be applied to everyday situations quite easily- especially when in Chinese cities - making it a great Chengyu for beginners to add to their vocabulary. Further, a shorter statement with a similar meaning is 人海 rénhǎi, also meaning 'a sea of people'.
The everyday applicability of this Chengyu is a big part of why I chose to make it the first Chengyu of this series. Another reason why I chose to feature 人山人海 is its intuitive meaning, even to beginners. Often, Chengyu have deep historical meanings, only understandable once you can infer its historical context and nuanced meanings of 汉字 [hanzi], characters. 人山人海, however, immediately hints at its meaning, even when literally translated as 'People Mountain; People Sea'.
今天去吃火锅，店里真的人山人海啊。 Today I ate hot pot, the restaurant was really crowded!
动物园内人山人海，大家都想看水獭吃饭。 The zoo is very busy with people, everyone wants to see the otters eat.
No matter your level of Chinese, you'll both hear this Chengyu often - and find yourself saying it, too. If you have any interesting stories involving this Chengyu, please let me know!
If you're on your own Mandarin learning journey - whether you just started today or you're a polyglot who has lived in China for 15 years - you'll find insightful and opinionated reviews, introductions to Chinese culture, and my first-hand perspectives every step of the way.