For many who have worked with Chinese people or have spent time in China, will know that they are a very gracious and cordial people. Their language is no different and we will be examining the different ways that one can say “thank you” in Chinese.
(Xièxiè): this way of saying thank you is the most basic and most frequently used throughout China, not just by foreigners learning the language but by native Chinese also. So if you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re not sure how to express your gratitude, this is your go-to savior phrase.
(Nǎlǐ nǎlǐ): ironically as it may seem, saying thank you in this way does not actually say thank you (yes, we were just as confused as you!) Rather when a person says this they are more or less saying “No, not really” in a way of being modest. For example, if a person looks absolutely beautiful and you shower them with compliments, they may respond saying “no, you’re just saying that” or “come on, no way”. Yet really this is their way of saying thank you for the accolades but they are embarrassed to address them.
(Xiè xienín): there are certain situations in life that will involve you speaking to people of a very high regard and how you respond and address them will be very important. Let’s take for example you developed a cure for (insert incurable disease) and are now meeting high-ranking officials and world leaders who speak Chinese. As they compliment you on your intellect and ridding the world of (insert incurable disease) you will need to say thank you in a formal and respectful manner. That example is pretty ridiculous but hopefully, the absurdity of it will help you remember the rule.
(Wàn fēn gǎn xiè): have you ever had somebody or a group of individuals do something you were so grateful for that you just wanted to thank them a million times over? This way of saying thank you does almost that, it allows you to thank people thousands of times over. Translated literally it becomes, ‘ten thousand percent (of) thankfulness’. This type of thank you is reserved for a really big favor that you are supremely thankful for.
(Má fán nǐ le): part of being human is that we are inevitably annoying in some way and this usually manifests itself in inconveniencing others. For instance, you may have forgotten your house key and now you have to wake up your sleeping roommate to open the door for you. Luckily there is a way of saying thank you for this inconvenience in Chinese.
(Xīn kǔ lā): translated literally, this thank you becomes “you’ve worked hard” and is generally used in a workplace or setting where work is being undertaken. It could be used by a boss to thank their hardworking employees (never the other way around) or it could even be used by a parent to thank their child for doing chores.
(Qiàn nǐ yí gè rén qíng): friendship is one of the greatest things in life and is built on love, trust and the favors that we do for one another because of the aforementioned. Saying thank you like this lets the other person know that you appreciate what they have done for you and that one day you will find a way to repay them the favor.
(Bù kèqì): Of course, this wouldn’t be a very complete list if we didn’t detail a way to answer back when others tell YOU, thank you. This is a short, easily memorable way of telling somebody that they are welcome.