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How to Say Thank You in Mandarin

In our daily life, when others lend a helping hand, we all say words of gratitude without hesitation. So, are there many kinds of words of gratitude in Chinese? How do you say “thank you” in Mandarin? Because there are different expressions of gratitude in Chinese. Here are some ways of expressing gratitude in most Chinese dialects.

Across the human experience, gratitude has always been a positive experience. It is an expression of appreciation. It is such an imperative gesture that solidifies relationships. That is why many prominent artists and cultural icons stress the importance of gratitude. Consequently, people globally seem to understand its critical role in social interactions.

I am so grateful
I am so grateful

1. 谢谢 (xiè xie)

Say “谢谢”. This expression is the most common in Mandarin.

Putonghua is widely used in the north and southwest of the Chinese mainland, and it is also the Chinese dialect with the largest number of users.

The single word “谢Xie” can’t find a corresponding word in English, but the overlapping of two “谢Xie” forms “谢谢thank you” which means thanks in English.

It is pronounced “Xie Xie” in Chinese. The first “Xie” puts the stress on the “X” and makes the fourth sound. The second “Xie” reads softly, that is, there is no stress.

Write “谢谢” in Chinese characters.

Other expressions of gratitude include “谢谢你的帮助thank you for your help”, which is more formal; Another example is “谢谢你帮我Thank you for helping me”, which is a little more casual.

2. 哪里,哪里 (nǎ lǐ, nǎ lǐ)

If someone praises you, you can say “哪里,哪里”.

Chinese culture pays attention to humility, and if you use “谢谢thank you” to respond to appreciation, it will be somewhat arrogant. But saying “哪里,哪里” indicates that you think you need to make further efforts. This word is equivalent to the word “shucks” in American English.

In Chinese, it is pronounced as “nǎlǐ, nǎlǐ”.

Write “哪里哪里” in Chinese characters.

3. 不敢当 (bù gǎn dāng) Not Worthy

You can also use “不,不,不no, no, no” to respond to praise. This word is similar to “哪里,哪里”, which means that the speaker is “不敢当not worthy”.

This word is similar to “no, no, no” in English.

The number of “不no” in this word can vary with the intensity of your refusal. The stronger the compliment or praise from the other party, the more you can say “不no” to strengthen your refusal.

In Chinese, it is pronounced as “bù, bù, bù”.

Write “no” in Chinese characters.

4. 多谢 (duō xiè)

When you accept a gift, say “多谢thank you”. This is also the most common expression of gratitude in Cantonese.

Cantonese is mainly used in the southern Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao. In addition, you can also hear Cantonese in some overseas Chinese areas, such as Southeast Asia, Canada, Brazil, Peru, Cuba, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and the United States.

Although the word “多谢 thank you” is commonly used in Cantonese to express gratitude, it usually refers to gratitude when you receive a gift. If it is used to express gratitude to others for their help, it is different.

Write “多谢” in Chinese characters.

It is pronounced “doh je” in Chinese.

If you haven’t received it yet, but you hear that the other party is going to give you a gift, you should say “doh je sin” in advance.

In China alone, there are already many ways to express gratitude. So much so, there are different ways of expression in various contexts. When receiving a gift, you can always respond in a vanilla way. “谢Xie” in Mandarin or “多谢” in Cantonese is suffice.

However, there are different contexts where showing gratitude entails a specific level of refusal. For example, when someone praises you, instead of saying “thank you,” Chinese people will say “哪里,哪里.” The expression acknowledges the praise but also that improvements are still applicable. People also say, “不,不,不no, no, no,” or “bù, bù, bù”. These expressions showcase humility. It concedes that the person may have done something extraordinary but lacking.

Different regional dialects also have different ways to express gratitude. When accepting help, in Cantonese they say “唔该.” In Minna, Hakka, and Chaozhou dialects they say “感谢thanks” “gum Xia” or “多谢” “do Xia.”  On the other hand, Taishan, Guangdong, and the rest of south China say “u de.”

Gratitude is the purest expression of all. It acknowledges that people are inherently social people. That we need other people to survive. Gratitude is an affectionate assertion of appreciation for the gesture being extended.

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