Sun Tzu Quotes 48 Sourced Quotes

Sun Tzu 孫子; Sūn Zǐ; (c. 6th century BCE) was a Chinese general, military strategist, and author of The Art of War, an immensely influential ancient Chinese book on military strategy; also known as Sun Wu (孫武; Sūn Wǔ), and Chang Qing (長卿; Cháng Qīng).

Here are 48 real Sun Tzu quotes ordered by their popularity online. The most quoted quotes on the web appear first. Questionable and fake quotes are excluded. Sources and related information are shown after each quote. We hope you find these quotes useful. If there is anything we can do to improve this article, your feedback is welcome. If you find these quotes helpful, please share them.

1. “兵者,詭道也。故能而示之不能,用而示之不用,近而示之遠,遠而示之近,”

—Sun Tzu

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Source and Related Info:  • Variant translations
• A military operation involves deception. Even though you are competent, appear to be incompetent. Though effective, appear to be ineffective.

2. “實而備之,強而避之,怒而撓之,卑而驕之,佚而勞之,親而離之,出其不意,攻其不備。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source:  • Note: "If his forces are united, separate them" is also interpreted: "If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them."

3. “乱而取之”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter I · Detail Assessment and Planning)

4. “卑则骄之”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter I · Detail Assessment and Planning)

5. “孙子曰:国之上下,死生之地,存亡之道,不可不察也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter I · Detail Assessment and Planning)

6. “夫未战而庙算胜者,得算多也;未战而庙算不胜者,得算少也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter I · Detail Assessment and Planning)

7. “将听吾计,用之必胜,留之;将不听吾计,用之必败,去之;”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter I · Detail Assessment and Planning)

8. “怒而挠之”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter I · Detail Assessment and Planning)

9. “故兵貴勝,不貴久。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter II · Waging War)

10. “近于师者贵卖,贵卖则百姓财竭”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter II · Waging War)

11. “兵久而国利者,未之有也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter II · Waging War)

12. “知彼知己,百戰不殆;不知彼而知己,一勝一負;不知彼,不知己,每戰必殆”

—Sun Tzu

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Source and Related Info:  • Variant translations
• If you know others and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know others but know yourself, you win one and lose one; if you do not know others and do not know yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.
• Know your enemy and know yourself, find naught in fear for 100 battles. Know yourself but not your enemy, find level of loss and victory. Know thy enemy but not yourself, wallow in defeat every time.

13. “故用兵之法,十則圍之,五則攻之,倍則分之, 敵則能戰之,少則能守之,不若則能避之。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter III · Strategic Attack)

14. “是故百戰百勝,非善之善者也;不戰而屈人之兵,善之善者也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source and Related Info:  • Variant translations
• Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
• The best victory is when the opponent surrenders of its own accord before there are any actual hostilities... It is best to win without fighting.

15. “古之所善戰者,勝於易勝者也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter III · Strategic Attack)

16. “知可战与不可战者胜。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter III · Strategic Attack)

17. “以虞待不虞者胜。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter III · Strategic Attack)

18. “凡用兵之法,全國為上;破國次之;全軍為上,破軍次之;全旅為上,破旅次之;全卒為上,破卒次之;全伍為上,破伍次之。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source and Related Info:  • Variant translations
• It is best to keep one’s own state intact; to crush the enemy’s state is only second best.

19. “是故上攻伐谋”

—Sun Tzu

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20. “是故勝兵先勝而後求戰,敗兵先戰而後求勝。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source:  • Variant: Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

21. “见胜不过众人之所识,非善之善者也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter IV · Disposition of the Army)

22. “守则不足,攻则有余”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter IV · Disposition of the Army)

23. “孫子曰:昔之善戰者,先為不可勝,以待敵之可勝,不可勝在己,可勝在敵。故善戰者,能為不可勝,不能使敵必可勝。故曰:勝可知,而不可為。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source:  • Translation by Lionel Giles

24. “治众如治寡,分数是也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter V · Forces)

25. “积水之激,至于漂石者,势也。鸷鸟之疾,至于毁折者,节也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter V · Forces)

26. “鸷鸟之疾,至于毁折者,节也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter V · Forces)

27. “故善战者,求之于势,不责于人。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source:  • Variant: The expert in battle seeks his victory from strategic advantage and does not demand it from his men.

28. “微乎微乎,至于无形;神乎神乎,至于无声;故能为敌之司命。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source and Related Info:  • Alternative translation: Subtle and insubstantial, the expert leaves no trace; divinely mysterious, he is inaudible. Thus he is master of his enemy's fate.'''
Alternative translation: O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible and hence we can hold the enemy's fate in our hands.

29. “人皆知我所以勝之形,而莫知我所以制勝之形。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter VI · Weaknesses and Strengths)

30. “故形兵之极,至于无形,无形,则深间不能窥,上智不能谋。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter VI · Weaknesses and Strengths)

31. “故善战者,至人而不至于人。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter VI · Weaknesses and Strengths)

32. “故敌逸能劳之,饱能饥之,安能动之。出其所不趋,趋其所不意。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter VI · Weaknesses and Strengths)

33. “围兵必阙”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter VII · Military Maneuvers)

34. “故用兵之法,無恃其不來,恃吾有以待之;無恃其不攻,恃吾有所不可攻也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source:  • Translation by Lionel Giles

35. “数赏者,窘也;数罚者,困也;”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter IX · Movement and Development of Troops)

36. “令素行以教其民,则民服。令不素行以教其民,则民不服。令素行者,与民相得也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter IX · Movement and Development of Troops)

37. “将弱不严,教道不明,将之过也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter X · Terrain)

38. “故战道必胜,主曰无战,必战可也;战道不胜,主曰必战,无战可也;”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter X · Terrain)

39. “进不邀功,退不避罪,唯人是保,而利合于主,国之宝也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter X · Terrain)

40. “視卒如愛子,故可與之俱死。”

—Sun Tzu

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Sun Tzu. “Sun Tzu Quotes: 48 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/sun-tzu-quotes.html#40

Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter X · Terrain)

41. “吾士无余财,非恶货也。无余命,非恶寿也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Sun Tzu. “Sun Tzu Quotes: 48 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/sun-tzu-quotes.html#41

Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter XI · The Nine Battlegrounds)

42. “兵之情主速,乘敌所不及,由不虞之途,攻其所不备也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Sun Tzu. “Sun Tzu Quotes: 48 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/sun-tzu-quotes.html#42

Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter XI · The Nine Battlegrounds)

43. “施无法之赏,悬无政之令。犯三军之众,若使一人。”

—Sun Tzu

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Sun Tzu. “Sun Tzu Quotes: 48 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/sun-tzu-quotes.html#43

Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter XI · The Nine Battlegrounds)

44. “非利不動,非得不用,非危不戰。主不可以怒而興師,將不可以慍而致戰;合于利而動,不合于利而止。怒可以復喜,慍可以復悅,亡國不可以復存,死者不可以復生。故明君慎之,良將警之,此安國全軍之道也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source:  • Translation by Lionel Giles

45. “敌间之来间我者,因而利之,导而舍之,故反间可得而用也;”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter XIII · Intelligence and Espionage)

46. “故明君贤将,能以上智为间者,必成大功。”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter XIII · Intelligence and Espionage)

47. “故三军之事,莫亲于间,赏莫厚于间,事莫密于间,”

—Sun Tzu

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Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter XIII · Intelligence and Espionage)

48. “此(译注:用间)兵之要,三军之所恃而动也。”

—Sun Tzu

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Sun Tzu. “Sun Tzu Quotes: 48 Sourced Quotes.” QuotesCosmos.com, edited by QuotesCosmos, 15 November 2017, https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/sun-tzu-quotes.html#48

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Sun Tzu. “Sun Tzu Quotes: 48 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/sun-tzu-quotes.html#48

Source: Wikiquote: "Sun Tzu" (The Art of War: Chapter titles from Chow-Hou Wee (2003), Chapter XIII · Intelligence and Espionage)

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