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Giving praise and showing appreciation in Chinese culture is different from how things are in the west. Modesty and humility are essential characteristics for many Chinese people. Knowing how to show thanks in Chinese demonstrates your understanding, recognition, and respect for Chinese culture.
In many languages, we speak to our elders and superiors with respect and polite language, whereas we tend to be more casual with friends and family. It’s the same in Chinese, so let’s learn the basics and some polite and alternative phrases for saying thanks in Chinese.
How Do You Say Thank You in Chinese? The Basics
1. 谢谢 (xiè xie)
The most standard way to say thank you in Chinese is by using 谢谢 (xiè xie).
For example, someone may say:
你做的菜真好吃。(nǐ zuò de cài zhēn hǎo chī) You cook really well.
You can reply with:
谢谢，好吃你就多吃点。(xiè xie, hǎo chī nǐ jiù duō chī diǎn) Thank you. Eat more if you like it.
谢谢，我妈妈叫我做的。(xiè xie, wǒ mā ma jiào wǒ zuò de) Thank you! My mom taught me.
2. 多谢 (duō xiè)
多谢 (duō xiè) can be used relatively casually, as an alternative to 谢谢, and is the equivalent of saying ‘thanks a lot’.
多谢您借钱给我。 Thanks so much for lending me the money.
3. 你太好啦 (nǐ tài hǎo la)
你太好啦 (nǐ tài hǎo la) can be used with family and friends to express your gratitude. It’s similar to saying, ‘you’re so kind’ in a way that shows how you care about someone.
4. 谢了 (xiè le)
How to Write Thank You in Chinese
The simplified Chinese characters for thank you are 谢谢 (xiè xie).
The traditional character is only slightly different on the left-hand side, 謝謝.
The radical 讠(yán) is found on characters related to speech, and in this case, 讠suggests the meaning, where as 射 (shè) indicates the pronunciation.
How To Pronounce Thank You In Chinese
Although the two characters are the same, the pronunciation of the characters is different. The first 谢 has the 4th tone pronunciation (xiè), while the second (xie) is neutral, also known as the 5th tone.
Study tones from scratch with Mandarin HQ’s Chinese Pronunciation Gym.
How to Say No Thank You in Chinese
Respectfully Saying Thank You
While you can use 谢谢 in many day-to-day situations, there are more polite phrases when speaking to an older person or your boss.
5. 谢谢你 (xiè xie nǐ) Thank you
谢谢你帮我忙。(xiè xie nǐ bāng wǒ máng) Thank you for helping me.
6. 谢谢大家 (xiè xie dà jiā) Thanks everyone / Thank you all
How to Express Gratitude
Although it is not customary to accept compliments in Chinese culture, it is very important to show gratitude 道谢 (dào xiè), especially if someone has gone out of their way to help you.
The following expressions range from casually thanking friends to showing gratitude to someone who has helped you in a significant way.
7. 非常感谢 (fēi cháng gǎn xiè)
8. 十分感谢 (shí fēn gǎn xiè)
9. 太感谢(…)了 (tài gǎn xiè … le)
Use the above phrases to express how extremely grateful you are. It’s similar to saying ‘thank you very much’ in Chinese.
Use the following phrases to thank someone for their hard work:
11. (太) 辛苦你了 (tài xīn kǔ nǐ le) thanks for your trouble
麻烦你了 is a great phrase to use when someone goes out of their way to help you out, even if it didn’t put them out at all. It’s an appropriate way to say thank you in a humble fashion.
13. 多亏你了 (duō kuī nǐ le) Thanks to you
14. 感谢 (gǎn xiè)
To show appreciation or gratitude, you can use 感谢 (gǎn xiè):
非常感谢您的意见。(fēi cháng gǎn xiè nín de yì jiàn) I really appreciate your opinions.
15. 表示感谢 (biǎo shì gǎn xiè)
To explain to someone that you want to ‘express thanks,’ you can say 表示感谢 (biǎo shì gǎn xiè):
为了表示感谢，我准备了一份薄礼，请笑纳。(wèi le biǎo shì gǎn xiè, wǒ zhǔn bèi le yī fèn bó lǐ, qǐng xiào nà)
Please accept my gift as thanks. (Literally: To express my gratitude, I prepared a small gift. Please accept it.)
Gift giving is an important part of relationship building and showing appreciation, but there are Chinese cultural rules to follow, especially when giving gifts to in-laws, bosses or reciprocating for a gift given.
Thanks Without Saying Thanks
You can also say thank you in Mandarin Chinese indirectly, without using a variation of 谢谢 (xiè xiè):
16. 太麻烦你了。(tài má fan nǐ le) I’ve caused you too much trouble.
17. 太辛苦了。(tài xīn kǔ le) I’ve caused you too much trouble.
18. 真不好意思。(zhēn bù hǎo yì si) I’m so embarrassed.
Responding to Gratitude
In Chinese there is no phrase that literally means ‘you’re welcome,’ but you can deflect gratitude with the following phrases:
不谢。 (bú xiè) Don’t thank me.
不客气。(bú kè qi) Don’t be polite.
不用 (谢)。(bù yòng xiè) No need (for thanks).
哪里。(nǎ lǐ) It was nothing.
没事。(méi shì) It was nothing.
没什么。(méi shén me) It wasn’t anything.
Receiving Compliments in Chinese
In Chinese culture, modesty is highly prized, and if someone compliments you, you should never say ‘thank you’. In the west, saying ‘thanks’ is just a polite way to accept a compliment; however, this might be considered egotistical in Chinese culture.
Instead of accepting a compliment, it is common to deflect the compliment or praise by using one of the following phrases:
19. 哪里哪里 (nǎ li nǎ li) Where? Where? (You flatter me, but it’s not true…)
Although the literal translation of 哪里哪里 is ‘Where? Where?’, the actual meaning behind it is ‘cannot accept this compliment.’
The following are also commonly used:
20. 一般，一般 (yī bān, yī bān) Not good, not good (Oh, I’m just so-so)
21. 还好，还好。 (hái hǎo, hái hǎo) Not bad, not bad. (I’m tolerable…)
22. 不，不，不 (bù, bù, bù) No, no, no…
Here are some compliments you might give and receive in China and some deflecting responses:
你的中文说得很好。(nǐ de zhōng wén shuō de hěn hǎo) You speak Chinese really well.
哪里，哪里，我才刚开始学。(nǎ li nǎ li, wǒ cái gāng kāi shǐ xué) It’s not good, I just started to learn.
不，不，我说的不好。(bù, bù, wǒ shuō de bù hǎo)。No, no, I don’t speak well.
Another common and easy way to reflect praise is by using the following:
是吗 (真的吗)？(shì ma (zhēn de ma?)) … Really? …
你的耳环很漂亮。(nǐ de ěr huán hěn piào liang) Your earrings are very pretty.
是吗？我昨天才买的。(shì ma? Wǒ zuó tiān cái mǎi de) Really? I just bought them yesterday.
真的吗？我也很喜欢。(zhēn de ma? Wǒ yě hěn xǐ huan) Really? I like them too.
真的吗？谢谢。(zhēn de ma? xiè xie) Really? Thanks.
The responses below are a little negative but are still traditional responses to compliments and praise.
还行吧。(hái xíng ba) Just so-so.
马马虎虎。(mǎ ma hū hū) Just so-so.
也就这样, …。(yě jiù zhè yàng…) It’s just as it is …
你换发型了？看起来很帅！(nǐ huàn fà xíng le, kàn qǐ lái hěn shuài.) Have you changed your hairstyle? It looks great (handsome)!
还行吧，你比我帅多了。(hái xíng ba, nǐ bǐ wǒ shuài duō le) It’s OK, but you are more handsome than me.
也就这样吧，我在家门口剪的。 (yě jiù zhè yàng ba, wǒ zài jiā mén kǒu jiǎn de) It’s just as it is. I had it cut near my home.