What do you say when someone thanks you in Chinese?
While you could just smile and nod your head, saying “you’re welcome” in Mandarin Chinese may be a friendlier approach to such situations.
Knowing how to say “you’re welcome” acknowledges the other person’s heartfelt gratitude and serves as a display of courtesy, especially in more formal settings.
You don’t want to be caught in the moment, awkwardly smiling and waving when someone conveys their sincere gratitude to you.😅
You may have already seen my guide on how to thank a person in Mandarin Chinese. Just as they’re are different ways to say ‘thanks’, there are also a wide variety of terms you can use to say “you’re welcome”.
Some of these terms are closely-related variations and translate to “don’t mention it” or “it’s no big deal” in English.
So read on to learn these different variations of “you’re welcome” in Mandarin Chinese.
Common ways to say you’re welcome in Mandarin Chinese
The most well-known and commonly used term to say “thank you” in Chinese is 谢谢 (xièxiè), though there are, in fact, many phrases you can use to thank a person in Chinese.
Once you’ve picked up some phrases you can use to thank a person in Mandarin Chinese, learning how to respond to “thank you” or 谢谢 in Mandarin Chinese may come in useful as well.
Many of these phrases are suitable for both formal and casual settings, so picking up a few of these phrases should be enough to diversify your vocabulary and help you blend in with native speakers. 😊
Let’s explore the different ways you can say “you’re welcome” in Mandarin Chinese.
不客气 (bù kèqì)
English meaning: “You’re welcome”
If you were to type “you’re welcome” in a translation app, this phrase would typically be one of the first (if not the first) to pop up.
You may have also covered it in some Mandarin learning resources.
客气 (kèqì) means “polite” or “courteous” 不 translates to “not” Hence, a direct translation of the phrase would be “not polite,” but the meaning you convey will depend on the situation.
When used in response to someone thanking you, 不客气 is the most well-known way to say “you’re welcome”.
不客气 is the shortened and more relaxed version of 不用客气 (bùyòng kèqì), which also means “you’re welcome”.
In 不用客气, the 用 carries the meaning “need”.
So putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, you’ll get the very direct translation “No need to be polite”
Don’t misinterpret it, though. You’re not asking the other person to be rude or disrespectful towards you, and it’s more of a way to break such formalities between you and the other party.
不用客气 or 不客气 conveys the meaning “Don’t stand on ceremony”.
The phrase 不客气 can also carry another meaning, which is “impolite” or “rude” It can be used in different ways, for instance, as an adjective to describe a person or behavior.
But don’t worry—when using it in response to 谢谢, native speakers will immediately understand what you mean.
The thing is, you usually won’t often hear native speakers using 不用客气 or 不客气 with family and close friends. After all, it is a rather formal phrase.
We will cover some other phrases on this list that are more suitable for casual conversations.
不用谢 (bùyòng xiè)
English meaning: “Don’t mention it”
If you find all the characters in this phrase familiar, you’re right.
In this context, 不 is loosely translated to “no,” 用 means “need,” and 谢 means “thank”.
Piecing everything together, you get the translation, “No need to thank me” or “No need for thanks”.
It could be likened to “Don’t mention it” in English.
Some people use it in formal settings, whereas others may use it with friends or when speaking with strangers.
Some may consider this phrase a bit too uptight and formal, so a more casual and lighthearted variation would be the shortened phrase, 不用 (bùyòng).
You can use it when speaking to your friends, family, or even that friendly shopkeeper you see every week. 不用 can also be said twice in a row for extra emphasis.
On a side note, take note of the pinyin for these terms. You may notice that the official pinyin is bùyòng xiè and bùyòng.
The fourth tone is used for all characters.
However, when using these terms in real life, the tone of the first character, 不, will shift to the second, rising tone, while the rest of the phrase will remain as the fourth sound.
As a general rule, when 不 is followed by a character with the fourth tone, the 不 changes to the second tone.
Hence, when used in conversations, you’ll say búyòng xiè, which will come off as more natural and native-like to Mandarin speakers.
This same concept applies to the phrase we’ve covered above as well.
Instead of bù kèqì, you’ll verbally say búkèqì.
谢什么呢? (xiè shénme ne?)
English meaning: “What are you thanking me for?”
谢什么呢? is a rhetorical question, meaning you say this phrase to make a statement, rather than elicit an answer.
什么 (shénme) translates to “what” and 呢 is a question particle, often inserted to make the sentence flow smoothly and naturally.
Putting the pieces together, the meaning of the phrase is “What are you thanking me for?”
Essentially, you are putting the other person at ease, letting them know that the favor you’ve done for them isn’t that big of a deal to elicit such thanks.
It’s another way of saying “you’re welcome” that isn’t as formal or rigid as 不客气.
English meaning: “It’s no problem”
Here’s a phrase that claims the spotlight as one of the most versatile and commonly used on our list. 没 (méi) translates to “none,” while 事 means “matter” or “trouble”.
Essentially, this phrase conveys the meaning “It’s no problem” or “It’s no big deal”.
You may also hear people in China saying 没事儿, with an extra 儿 at the end that makes the phrase sound more natural and native-like.
In real life, you won’t be enunciating the 儿 completely, and giving emphasis to the 儿 will make you sound like a non-native.
It’s typically said as méi shì‘r, where the last two characters are conjoined, and the 儿 rolls gently right off your tongue.
In addition to that, you can say it twice in a row since Mandarin speakers sometimes repeat short phrases.
This phrase can be used to assure the other person that what you helped with wasn’t a huge problem for you and that they don’t need to worry if they have troubled you too much.
It’s an easy phrase to remember and definitely one that would help you blend right in with native speakers.
You can also use it in response to someone who apologizes to you.
For instance, if someone bumped into you and said 对不起 (duìbùqǐ), which means “sorry,” you can respond with 没事儿, which in this context means “Don’t worry about it” or “It’s no problem”.
Now, that’s one versatile phrase! 😊
English meaning: “It’s not a big deal”
This phrase has a somewhat related meaning and usage to the one above. 小意思 can be used in different ways.
Firstly, you’ll typically hear this phrase used by someone when they’re presenting a gift or small token to someone else.
As the person presents the gift to the other party, you may hear something along the lines of 这是我的一点小意思。(Zhè shì wǒ de yīdiǎn xiǎoyìsi).
This essentially means, “This is just a small gift for you”.
Secondly, you may use this when someone thanks you for a small favor. It conveys the meaning, “It’s not a big deal” or “It’s nothing”.
For instance, a scenario may play out as follows:
This phrase can be used in many different settings, such as when you’re speaking to your colleagues, friends, or even a stranger.
应该的 (yīnggāi de)
English meaning: “Sure thing”
应该 (yīnggāi) translates to “should” in English. Hence, the phrase 应该的 means that the favor you did for the other person is something you should do, after all.
As a more direct translation, it means “I did what I should do” but it loosely translates to “Of course” or “Sure thing” in English.
You’re letting the other person know that they do not need to thank you for helping them because it is something you should do.
For example, say you’ve just helped a senior safely across the road, and they profusely thank you.
In this scenario, you can reply with a 应该的. It is the right to do, after all.
In addition to that, you can also use it in workplace or professional settings when someone, such as your boss or manager, thanks you for handing in a task. In this sense, you’re fulfilling your obligation in your workplace.
You could regard 应该的 as a polite and humble response to someone thanking you.
你太客气啦 (nǐ tài kèqì la)
English meaning: “You’re welcome”
你太客气啦 or 你太客气了 (Nǐ tài kèqìle) are two phrases with the same meaning.
A very direct translation of the two would be “you’re too polite”.
People would use this phrase when someone goes the extra mile to express their thanks. For instance, if someone bakes cookies for you or buys you a meal to thank you for your help, you can use the phrase 你太客气了!
On a side note, the word “polite” isn’t an accurate translation of 客气 in this context.
There’s just no better word in English that fully encapsulates the meaning.😅
A more liberal translation of 你太客气了 would be “you don’t have to” or “you didn’t have to”.
It is one way to respond to someone who goes out of their way to thank you!
不会 (bù huì)
English meaning: “Don’t mention it”
If you’re thinking of making a trip to Taiwan, this phrase may come in useful.
It’s not so much used in mainland China, but you’ll hear native Mandarin speakers in Taiwan using this phrase.
In Taiwan, 不会 could be considered the equivalent of 不用谢.
不会 can convey the meaning, “Don’t sweat it” or “Don’t mention it”.
When someone thanks you for doing them a favor or apologizes for troubling you, you can use this phrase.
Do take note that Mandarin speakers from China may be confused to hear this phrase, as they typically don’t use it in this context.
But in Taiwan, this is one of the most common ways to say “you’re welcome”.
There are many ways to acknowledge someone’s gratitude
Knowing how to say “you’re welcome” in Chinese allows you to respond politely to someone’s heartfelt thanks.
While learning the Chinese language, you may have stumbled across the phrase 不客气, which is a basic and universally-known way to say “you’re welcome”.
This phrase can be useful, but it is considered too formal and stiff when used between close friends and family.
Learning other ways to say “you’re welcome” will allow you to tackle different situations and adapt your choice of words depending on who you’re speaking to.
Understandably, these phrases can be hard to grasp at first, but with time and practice, you’ll get the hang of them. 😊
Know any other ways to say “you’re welcome” in Mandarin Chinese?
If so, let us know. We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!