The Chinese Way of Welcome: ‘You’re welcome’ in Mandarin

When compared to Koreans and Japanese, Chinese people tend to be very open and direct. This is why (contrary to what some people may think) Chinese language doesn’t have as many polite forms and elegant words to express respect and gratitude as for example Japanese. In fact, being polite in English is sometimes harder than being polite in Chinese. Luckily for foreign learners, expressing gratitude or respect in Chinese is natural and easy. You don’t have to worry too much about upsetting someone because of choosing a wrong polite form depending on different situation or their status. In many ways, Chinese language is much easier than people think. 

Despite the fact that a Chinese person will not be offended too easily, there is still a lot of expressions that are Chinese equivalents of “you are welcome” and “no problem”. China is a massive place, so its language is rich with different ways of saying it.

There are couple of easy expressions you definitely need to know. Most of them are appropriate for both formal and informal situations. In this article, you will learn at least 6 most common of them and their different variations.

  1. 不客气/不客氣(Tw), [bù kè qì]: it is a very common expression used in China and if you go there, you may say it very often. 客气 means “polite, politeness”, meanwhile 不 means “no”. 不客气 thus really means “don’t be polite” or “no politeness”. It is translated to English as “you’re welcome”. 不客气 is perfect for everyday use. 

Example use:

  • 谢谢你![Xièxiè nǐ!]: Thank you!
  • 不客气. You’re welcome.

There are many more expressions with 客气. Another one of them is 不用客气 [búyòng kè qì], which is almost the same as 不客气.  不用 means “no need to”. When you talk with friends (or that smiling Chinese shop owner you visit on a daily basis), you can often hear an abbreviation of it, which is 不用. It can also be said twice, since Chinese really like duplicating short words: 不用! 不用!

Example use:

  • 谢谢你的帮忙![Xièxiè nǐde bāngmáng!]: Thank you for your help. 
  • 不用!You’re welcome.

Another useful expression with 客气 is 别客气 [bié kè qì]. As you may have heard, 别 is a prefix used with verbs and adjectives that means “don’t do/be something” (别 + ADJ./VERB = don’t be + ADJ. or don’t do + VERB). Therefore, 别客气 literally means “don’t be polite”. 

Example use:

  • 谢谢你给我介绍了这个机会![Xièxiè nǐ gěi wǒ jièshào le zhège jīhuì!] Thank you for sharing this opportunity with me!
  • 别客气!You’re welcome!

2.  没事/沒事 (Tw), [méishì]: it is another common expression which is also less formal than 不客气. 没 is a negative prefix used for verbs which means “have not/not”, meanwhile 事 means “thing” or “matter”. You may wonder why is a prefix for verbs used before a noun? It is because 没事 is in fact an abbreviation of 没有事, with 有 meaning here “there is”. 没事 thus literally means “there is no matter”, but the correct translation would be “It’s nothing” or “It’s not a big deal”. 

Instead of 事, you can also say 问题/問題 (Tw), [wèntí], which means “problem”. Therefore, 没问题 means “no problem”. 

Example use:

  • 你带来了我最喜欢的餐!谢谢![Nǐ dàilái le wǒ zuì xǐhuan de cān! Xièxiè!]: You have brought my favorite food! Thank you!
  • 没事,没事。No problem.

3. 不用谢/不用謝 (Tw), [búyòng xiè]: it is an expression similar to 不用客气, and literally means “no need to thank (me)”. 

Example use:

  • 小心!你的围巾丢掉了![Xiǎoxīn! Nǐde wéijīn diūdiào le!]: Careful! You lost your scarf!
  • 哎!谢谢你![āi! xièxiè nǐ!]: Oh! Thank you! 哎 [āi] is a commonly used interjection, used to show surprise or disapproval. 
  • 不用谢![búyòng xiè]: No problem / Don’t mention it. 

There are more expressions that use 谢. For instance, 不谢 is a short way of saying 不用谢. You can also say 别谢了 [bié xiè le], that follows the same logic as 别客气 and literally means “stop thanking”. Another useful expression is also 谢什么呢 [xiè shénme ne]. 呢 is an auxiliary word that appears at the end of a special or rhetorical question. Since 什么 means “what”, the expression 谢什么呢 literally means “What are you thanking for” and is a rhetorical question. It is another way of saying “your welcome” and it is less formal than 不客气.

4. 小意思 [xiǎo yìsī]: it indicates that someone did not spend a lot of effort in order to help. If translated literally, it would mean a “small token of one’s regard” or “a little thing/mere trifle”. It is closer in meaning to 没事. 意思 itself has lots of meanings, and this article is too short to enlist all of them. 

Example use: 

  • 你可以帮我看我的行李吗?我等一下回来。[Nǐ kěyǐ bang wǒ kàn wǒde xíngli ma? wǒ děng yīxià huílái] Can you take a look at my luggage? I will be back in a moment.
  • 好,你去吧。[hǎo,nǐ qù ba] Okay, you can go.
  • 谢谢你!Thank you!
  • 小意思。No problem.

5. 不会/不會 (Tw) [búhuì]: this expression is also an abbreviation of a longer sentence and literally means “it won’t (cause me trouble)”. The “cost me trouble part” is skipped. Therefore, it simply means “no problem”. 不会 is commonly used in everyday life situations. Since it is a short expression just as 不用 and 没事, it can also be duplicated. 

  • 你可以帮我复印这件吗?谢谢你![nǐ kěyǐ bang wǒ fùyìn zhèjiàn ma?xièxiè nǐ] Can you help me print out this one? Thank you!
  • 不会,不会。No problem!

6. 不麻烦/不麻煩 (Tw),[bù máfan]: it is another expression that can be translated to “no problem”. 麻烦 literally means a trouble, problem. Therefore, 不麻烦 literally means “no trouble” or “no problem”.

You may remember that one of the ways to say “thank you” in Chinese is 麻烦你了 [máfan nǐ le], which literally means “I have troubled you”. 不麻烦 is a perfect response for it.

Example use:

  • 你可以把我背包放在我房间里面吗?麻烦你了。[nǐ kěyǐ bǎ wǒ bēibāo fàng zài wǒ fángjiān lǐmiàn ma?Máfan nǐ le] Can you put my backpack in my room? Thank you (I have troubled you).
  • 不麻烦。No problem.

Need help with learning Chinese? You have come to the right place! In Maayot, we can help you master Chinese characters, improve your reading and explain every bit of grammar you find puzzling. If you would like to know more about the Chinese language and culture, check out some of our articles below: