Learning how to thank a person in Mandarin Chinese is a necessary way to show appreciation, express gratitude, and brighten up someone’s day.
Besides learning how to greet a person and bid goodbye, knowing how to convey your thanks and appreciation in Mandarin Chinese will prove valuable.
If you’ve already covered some ground learning this beautiful language, you may have picked up the most standard and common way of saying thank you.
Essentially, it means “thank you” in English.
However, there is more than one way to thank someone in Mandarin Chinese.
Learning all these various phrases and methods to say “thank you” is fantastic, but it’s also best to understand which context and setting would best suit each one.
For instance, phrases used to express gratitude to a friend may vary from how you would thank your boss, client, or someone you’ve just met.
Knowing the proper application context would allow you to use these phrases more naturally and blend in with native speakers!
You may also wish to keep in mind that the Chinese culture could differ from cultures you’re well-accustomed to.
This guide will cover all you need to know about the different ways you can thank someone in Mandarin Chinese.
Understanding Context And Culture
In Western culture, you may have been taught to always be courteous in your speech, and this usually involves the frequent use of “please” and “thank you”.
Having top-tier manners and showing politeness in your speech is never a bad thing.
However, the Chinese culture and norms may be a little different than what you’re used to.
If you’ve spent some time in China, you’ll notice that thank you’s are not as liberally utilized as would be in Western countries.
Of course, this does not mean that the Chinese culture is impolite.
But in China, the use of too many thank you’s and please’s could be seen as constructing barriers and sowing social distance between you and the other person.
Seasoning your conversations with too many of these polite phrases may backfire as in social circles, as this may add too much formality to the setting, especially if you’re speaking to a friend or someone you know well.
Once you’ve assimilated into their circle, be it with a group of friends, colleagues, or housemates, you’ll be considered part of the family.
Due to this, inserting too many polite phrases into your conversations could be seen as drawing a boundary.
Essentially, the tighter the bond, the fewer sentiments expressed.
Don’t get me wrong—there’s nothing wrong with thanking a person if they’ve done you a favor or showered you with kindness.
But while your thank you’s may be well-intended, it never hurts to be sensitive and alert to how the other person engages or reacts to them.
Nonetheless, saying “thank you” is not redundant in the Chinese language.
You’ll still be met with dozens of opportunities to put what you learn to good use, especially if you wish to leave a good impression when interacting with new friends and peers.
Common ways to say thank you in Mandarin Chinese
English meaning: “thank you” or “thanks”
谢谢 is still the standard and most straightforward way of saying “thank you” in Mandarin Chinese.
Unsurprisingly, it is likely one of the first few words you would have encountered from various learning resources.
谢谢 is a rather versatile phrase that can be used in many situations, such as in casual settings or more formal contexts.
For example, if a classmate has offered to guide you with a project, or a colleague helps you with a task at work, you can thank them with a simple 谢谢. Additionally, you can also mention this phrase when receiving gifts or food from someone.
If you’re tightly knitted with the person or have known them for a long time, though, they’ll probably be a little perplexed by the formality.
Some people may respond with a 不客气 (bù kèqì) or 不用 谢 (bù yòng xiè). 不客气 (bù kèqì) literally means “no need for such politeness or formality”, while 不用 谢 (bù yòng xiè) directly translates to “no need to thank”.
These phrases may be likened to “you’re welcome” and are usually mentioned in response to someone’s thanks.
谢谢 is a double syllable word. Remember that the first ‘xie’ is pronounced with the fourth tone, while the second bears a neutral tone. The second ‘xie’ is usually said in a softer, less pronounced manner.
For more casual settings, you can use a variation of this phrase, 谢了 (xièle), which translates to “thanks”.
This can be used for close friends and family.
谢谢你 (xièxie nǐ)
English meaning: “thank you”
Both 谢谢你 and 谢谢 only differ in terms of the additional 你 (nǐ).
你 means “you” in English, but it can be omitted from the phrase.
There isn’t a stark difference between these terms, and they can be used interchangeably. However, some speakers would regard 谢谢你 as a more formal and polite way to thank a person that seems to demonstrate even more sincerity.
If you’d like to take it a step further, you can even say 谢谢您 (xièxie nín), a phrase that isn’t as often used and usually reserved for occasions when you’re speaking to someone higher elder or higher in seniority.
你 and 您 both convey the meaning of “you” in English, but the one significant difference that sets them apart is that 您 is frequently used to address someone you highly respect and admire. It carries a very formal tone and is not as often used as its counterpart.
If you’d like to thank a group of people, you can say 谢谢大家 (xièxie dájiā), which conveys the meaning, “thank you all”.
You can utilize this after giving a speech or presentation.
谢谢你的… (xièxie nǐ de…)
English meaning: “thank you for your…”
This phrase is similar to the one introduced above, except that this takes it a step further.
你的 (nǐ de) means “your” in English. Hence, this phrase is more specific in the sense that you’re mentioning exactly what you’re grateful for.
Of course, this isn’t necessary perse, but it never hurts to drizzle more variation into your speech.
The speaker would usually thank a person for a noun rather than a verb in the Chinese language.
Instead of saying something along the lines of “thank you for helping me”, you would more often hear “thank you for your help”.
Additionally, it’s more common to hear “thank you for your attention” instead of “thank you for paying attention to me”.
When speaking Mandarin Chinese, you can say, 谢谢你的帮忙 (xièxie nǐ de bāngmáng) or 谢谢你的帮助 (xièxie nǐ de bāngzhù), both of which mean “thank you for your help”.
Depending on the situation, you can substitute the characters after 的 to form a phrase that fits the context.
Another example would be 谢谢你的关心 (xièxie nǐ de guānxīn), which means “thank you for your concern”.
Thanking someone for a tangible or intangible object usually sounds more natural.
In contrast, thanking a person for an action (verb) may sound slightly off when falling upon native ears. Of course, this may not be possible in every single context, which is why you sometimes also hear the verb being used instead.
For instance, you may have heard someone say 谢谢你告诉我 (xièxie nǐ gàosù wǒ), which translates to “thank you for telling me this”.
In this case, a verb was used in place of the noun, and you may have noticed that the 的 is missing.
The 的 used in combination with a 你 gives rise to the meaning “your” Hence, when a verb is used in place of the noun, the 的 is no longer needed.
您 can also be used in place of 你 when you’re speaking with someone who may have a higher status or someone you greatly respect and admire.
For example, you can say 谢谢您的关心 (xièxiè nín de guānxīn), which also means “thank you for your concern”.
When speaking to a group of people, you can address and thank them all by utilizing a closely-related phrase. One example would be the phrase 谢谢大家的来临 (xiè xiè dà jiā de lái lín), and this means “thank you all for coming”.
Additionally, you may also use 谢谢你们的倾听 (xièxiè nǐmen de qīngtīng), which can be used after you’ve given a speech to your audience.
非常感谢你 (fēicháng gǎnxiè nǐ)
English meaning: “thank you so much”
感谢 directly translates to “gratitude,” “appreciation,” or “thanks.”
In the context of thanking someone, 非常感谢你 can be utilized to send the message that you’re extremely grateful and appreciative of what they’ve given or done for you.
Most speakers would consider this a rather formal way of thanking someone, so it’s not commonly used in the context of friends and family.
This phrase would be appropriate in formal settings, such as when speaking to your boss, someone you greatly admire, or a stranger you just met.
Additionally, some would also regard this as an appropriate phrase to use in semi-formal situations too, such as when you’re speaking to your colleague or peer.
Other slightly less formal variations include 非常感谢 (fēicháng gǎnxiè) and 感谢你 (gǎnxiè nǐ) or even just 感谢 (gǎnxiè), which are all different phrases to use to show your gratitude and appreciation.
Based on what we’ve covered previously, you can also use this phrase and specify exactly what you’re grateful for. For instance, you can say 非常感谢你的帮助 (fēicháng gǎnxiè nǐ de bāngzhù), and this translates to “thank you so much for your help”.
In Mandarin Chinese, there are also ways you can say thank you without actually using 谢谢 or 谢 in any part of the sentence.
We’ll explore some ways to do this further below.
你太好啦 (Nǐ tài hǎo la)
English meaning: “you’re too kind”
你太好啦 literally means “you’re too good” but could be likened to “you’re too kind”.
Another similar-meaning phrase is 你最好啦, which means “you’re the best”.
These serve as a fantastic way to show your gratitude and let someone know they’re well-appreciated.
There is a playful hint and light tone to it, so it’s best to reserve it for casual conversations. You can use it when speaking with friends, family, and those you’re tightly knitted with, rather than someone you’ve just met.
It also can be used in the workplace but is more suitably spoken to those you have a close relationship with.
In the original phrase, the particle used at the end of the phrase is 啦, which is a contraction of 了 and 啊. 啦 is used to indicate an exclamation at the end of the phrase and conveys enthusiasm.
Another similar phrase is 你太好了 (nǐ tài hǎo le), and this bears the same meaning.
The only difference is the sentence-final particle.
麻烦你了 (má fan nǐ le)
English meaning: “sorry to trouble you”
In Mandarin Chinese, you can use various phrases to thank someone without saying thank you.
麻烦 (má fan) means trouble, so the phrase 麻烦你了 quite literally translates to “trouble you” but carries the meaning “sorry to trouble you”.
You can use this phrase in several situations in both casual and more formal settings, for example, when a person has gone out of their way to help you run an errand or perhaps has offered to do you a favor.
Other variations you can use include 太麻烦你了 (tài má fan nǐ le), which means “I’ve caused you so much trouble”.
In essence, these phrases are used to show someone you feel abashed for having them go out of their way to lend you a helping hand.
In Chinese culture, thank you’s are commonly expressed through actions rather than words
Among familiar friends and family, gratitude is usually demonstrated through actions, such as exchanging gifts or sharing meals, rather than words.
Nonetheless, there will be instances and occasions when a verbalized thank you will serve well to convey gratitude and appreciation.
In fact, if you were to help a stranger in China, you’ll probably be showered with dozens of ‘thank you’s’.
Furthermore, saying “thank you” would be appropriate in various formal settings, such as when meeting a new client or colleague.
Knowing how and when to use the phrases on this list will help you form stronger bonds and leave longer-lasting impressions.
But you may wish to use a mix of actions and words to show your gratitude to people you greatly appreciate!
Do you know of any other ways to say “Thank you” that have not been included on this list?
Mention them in the comments below!