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Politeness is a greatly complex phenomenon that can differ in meaning depending on the culture. What is polite in one country, can be considered rude in another. However, there are a few rules that keep the same interpretation everywhere in the world. For example, a heartfelt thanks is timely in every corner of the world. And the Chinese culture makes no exception. If there is one phrase you should absolutely master before traveling to China, it’s 谢谢 (xièxiè) – meaning “thank you” in Chinese. Like James Allen once said – “no duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks”.
Besides that, thank you in Chinese (谢谢 – xièxiè) is the most spoken “thank you” in the world. With 谢谢, you’ll be able to express your gratitude towards over 1 billion people. Isn’t that amazing?
So here are 12 of the most important ways to say thank you in Chinese.
1. Xièxiè – the most common Chinese thanks
As already mentioned, the most common way to say “thanks” or “thank you” in Chinese is xièxiè (谢谢) or xièxie. A rough Chinese pronunciation of that is syeh-syeh, but while it sounds like the same words repeated twice, there is actually a very subtle difference between the two. Because the first syllable is a fourth tone and the second is a neutral, you should start the pronunciation high with the first syllable and then say the second one more lightly and without any emphasis.
So whenever you want to express your gratitude in Chinese, it’s safe to say xièxiè (谢谢). And because it is a universal formula, it can be used safely in most social interactions.
That being said, let’s look at some more variations of “thank you” in Chinese.
- Thank you! / Thanks! – 谢谢! – Xièxiè!
- Thank you! – 谢谢你! – Xiè xiè nǐ! (slightly more formal than 谢谢)
- Thank you! – 谢谢您! – Xiè xiè nín! (as opposed to 你 nǐ, 您 nín is more courteous and formal, so this is suitable for when you are talking to someone hierarchically higher than you)
- Thanks a lot! – 多谢! – Duō xiè! (used mainly in texting between friends, but teenagers tend to use it in speaking as well)
- Thanks! – 谢了! – Xiè le! (commonly used between close friends)
2. Thank you very much in Chinese
Just like in any other language, the way you say “thank you” in Chinese can alter its meaning. If you say it harshly and keep a straight face, Chinese speakers may perceive your attitude as sarcastic. So smile, act as you would in your native tongue and nod respectfully (don’t bow as you would do in Japan). Even if your pronunciation is not perfect, your message will certainly be conveyed correctly.
Now let’s look at some of the most common ways of saying “thank you very much” in Chinese.
- Thank you very much – 非常感谢你! – Fēicháng gǎnxiè nǐ! (a more formal way of thanking someone when you’re feeling extremely grateful for what they’ve done for you)
- Many thanks! – 感谢! – Gǎn xiè！(a shorter version of 非常感谢你, likewise suitable for situations where you owe someone serious gratitude)
- Thank you very much! – 非常谢谢! – Fēi cháng xiè xiè! (literal meaning: extreme thanks)
Other variations include:
- Thank you very much! – 非常谢谢你! – Fēi cháng xiè xiè nǐ!
- (I’m) really grateful! – 非常感谢! – Fēi cháng gǎn xiè!
- (I’m) really grateful! – 非常感谢你! Fēi cháng gǎn xiè nǐ! (slightly more formal than the previous)
- Thank you SO much! – 太谢谢你了! – Tài xiè xiè nǐ le!
3. Thank you for… in Chinese
Just as important as the simple, plain “thank you” is the “thank you for something” thank you. Because sometimes you need to be more specific. What are you thanking them for? So here’s how to thank someone in Chinese for the gift they gave you and some more Chinese phrases that might come in handy next time you visit China.
- Thank you for everything. – 感谢你为我做的一切。- Gǎnxiè nǐ wèi wǒ zuò de yīqiè.
- Thank you for your help. – 谢谢你的帮助. – Xièxiè nǐ de bāngzhù.
- I thank you for the gift. – 我为那个礼物感谢你。- Wǒ wèi nàgè lǐwù gǎnxiè nǐ.
- Thank you for letting me know. – 谢谢你让我知道。- Xièxiè nǐ ràng wǒ zhī dào.
- Thank you for your coffee! – 谢谢你的咖啡! – Xièxiè nǐ de kā fēi!
- Thank you for coming today – 感谢您今天的光临。- Gǎnxiè nín jīntiān de guānglín.
- Thank you for your consideration. – 谢谢您的关心。- Xièxiè nín de guānxīn.
- Thank you for spending time with us. – 谢谢您花时间和我们在一起。- Xièxiè nín huā shíjiān hé wǒmen zài yìqǐ.
4. Other ways to express your gratitude in Chinese
Depending on the social context, in some cases, you might want to vary your answers. For example, when someone compliments you, instead of saying 谢谢 xièxiè – which may sound a little arrogant, you could say 哪里哪里 nǎlǐ nǎlǐ . In English, that translates to “no, no” or “where, where” as in “you’re flattering me” or “you’re too kind”.
In fact, Chinese culture is known for its preference for modesty and humility. Deflecting a compliment rather than accepting it with a plain “thank you” is much more appreciated. Thus, another way to deflect a compliment (while secretly enjoying it) is to say 没有没有 méiyǒu méiyǒu – meaning “no, no, that’s nonsense”.
BONUS: You’re welcome in Chinese
If you want to respond to someone’s thanks with “you’re welcome” in Chinese, you can say 不客气 bù kèqì.
As you can guess, that’s the most used expression, but again, if you want to vary the Chinese vocabulary you are using, you can also say 不用谢 bú yòng xiè (meaning “don’t mention it”) or 小事一桩 xiǎo shì yī zhuāng (“it’s nothing”).
Do you want to learn more? Here’s how to say “thank you” in more than 30 languages!
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