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Sorry” or “excuse me”? Apologies in Chinese

对不起, 请问, 麻烦你, 劳驾, learning Chinese

The four words 对不起 (duìbuqǐ), 请问 (qǐngwèn), 麻烦你 (máfan nǐ) and 劳驾 (láojià) can be a stumbling block for people learning Chinese, as they seem to have similar meanings. All of them might be translated as "sorry" or "excuse me" in various contexts in English.

"对不起"、"请问"、"麻烦你"和"劳驾"这四个词对于学习中文的人可以说是绊脚石,因为它们看起来意思相似。它们都可以译成英文里不同语境下的"sorry"或"excuse me"。

 

对不起: "I apologise"

 

对不起 can be the equivalent of "I'm sorry", "I've let you down", "forgive me" and so on in English, and is used to make apologies. Some examples:

"对不起"相当于英文里的"I'm sorry"、"I've let you down"和"forgive me"等,用于道歉。例子:

 

对不起,我来晚了。

duìbùqǐ, wǒ lái wǎnle.

Sorry I'm late.

 

对不起,我把你的花瓶弄破了。

duìbùqǐ, wǒ bǎ nǐ de huāpíng nòng pòle.

Sorry, I broke your vase.

 

对不起,我没法帮助你。

duìbùqǐ, wǒ méi fǎ bāngzhù nǐ.

I'm sorry, there's no way I can help you.

 

对不起,都是我的错。

duìbùqǐ, dōu shì wǒde cuò.

I'm sorry, it's all my fault.

 

对不起 is not generally used to get someone's attention, preface a request or question, or to ask for someone to repeat something.

一般来说,"对不起"不用于吸引他人的注意、提出要求或疑问的开头或请求他人重复某事。

 

For example, you might hear someone say something like:

比如,或许你会听到他人这样说:

 

对不起,你可以帮我个忙吗?

duìbùqǐ, nǐ kěyǐ bāng wǒ gè máng ma?

Sorry, could you help me with something?

 

That seems very much like 对不起 is being used to mean "excuse me". But it's probably best to view the above example as someone first apologising for intruding the listener, and then making their request. So 对不起 is still being used as an apology.

这里的"对不起"似乎比较像是用于表达"excuse me",不过,最好的方式是把上面的例子理解为某人先对打扰听话者表示抱歉,然后再说出请求。因此,这里的"对不起"还是用于表达歉意。

 

These sorts of confusions are unavoidable when learning languages, and you'll rarely find a easy rule that you can memorise. The best thing you can do is focus on input – reading and listening – to try and develop your own feel for the language.

像这类的困惑在语言学习时是不可避免的,并且你很难能找到记得住的简单规则。你可以做到的最好的事是专注于投入,如阅读和听力,试着去培养自己的语感。

 

请问: "May I ask?"

 

The easiest way to understand 请问 is to break it down into the literal meaning of its characters:

理解"请问"的最简单方式是拆分它去看每个字的字面意义:

 

请: please, requesting

问: ask

 

So literally 请问 is "please can I ask". Thinking of it this way makes its purpose clear: it's for asking questions in a polite way.

因此,"请问"的字面意思是"please can I ask"。以这样的方式去想的话,它的用途就很明显了,它是用于礼貌地询问。

 

请问,邮局在哪里?

qǐngwèn, yóujú zài nǎlǐ?

Excuse me, where is the post office?

 

请问 and "excuse me" serve the same function, but they don't actually mean the same thing. Remembering this point will help you to use 请问 correctly.

"请问"和"excuse me"用于同样的功能,不过它们并不是完全一样的意义。记住这一点会有助于你正确使用"请问"。

 

Because 请问 actually means something like "please can I ask", its uses are much narrower than "excuse me". It always has to come before questions:

由于"请问"实际的意思类似"please can I ask",因此它的用法比"excuse me"还要狭窄。通常它是放于问题之前:

 

请问 +

 

Have a look at some more examples:

看看一些例子:

 

请问,这里有洗手间吗?

qǐngwèn, zhè li yǒu xǐshǒujiān ma?

Excuse me, is there a toilet here?

 

请问,这里可以刷卡吗?

qǐngwèn, zhèlǐ kěyǐ shuākǎ ma?

Can I pay by card here?

 

请问,香港中路怎么走?

qǐngwèn, xiānggǎng zhōnglù zěnme zǒu?

Can you tell me the way to Hong Kong Middle Road, please?

 

Using 请问 is a very nice way of asking questions, especially of strangers, and it can be a good way to get the attention of someone you don't know. In more familiar situations, though, 请问 is usually not necessary. People you know might find it a bit odd if you said 请问 to them.

用上"请问"是比较友好的提问方式,尤其是陌生人。这是个很好的方式,可以引起陌生人的注意。不过,要是比较熟悉的情况,"请问"就比较多余。要是你向你认识的人说"请问"的话,他们会觉得有点奇怪。

 

麻烦你: "Could I trouble you…?"

 

A very common use of 麻烦你 is to request that someone does something.

"麻烦你"常用于请求别人做某事。

 

麻烦你 + [verb phrase]

 

By using 麻烦你 you're acknowledging the hassle that you're creating for this person. Let's have a look at some examples:

用"麻烦你"的话,你就承认了自己将给他人带来不便。一起看看一些例子:

 

麻烦你开个门。

máfan nǐ kāi gè mén.

Could you open the door for me?

 

麻烦你替我问候。

máfan nǐ tì wǒ wènhòu.

Please pass on my regards.

 

麻烦你帮我看看这个。

máfan nǐ bāng wǒ kàn kàn zhège.

Could you take a look at this for me, please?

 

However, 麻烦你 can also precede questions or other statements – it isn't just for requesting. Just remember that whilst 请问 can only come before questions, 麻烦你 can come before questions or instructions, e.g.:

不过,"麻烦你"也可以用在问题或其他语句之前,并不只是用于请求。需要记住的是"请问"只能用于问题之前,而"麻烦你"可以用于问题或说明之前。例如:

 

麻烦问一下,北京大酒店怎么走?

máfan wèn yīxià, běijīng dà jiǔdiàn zěnme zǒu?

Sorry to trouble you – how do I get to the Beijing Hotel?

 

劳驾: "excuse me", "could I trouble you"

 

Of the other words listed here, 劳驾 is most similar to 麻烦你.

和其他所说到的词相比,"劳驾"最类似"麻烦你"。

 

劳: labour, toil

驾: harness, to drive

 

麻烦你, 劳驾 can be used to make requests and ask questions.

"麻烦你"和"劳驾"都可以用于提出请求或询问问题。

 

However, 劳驾 is frequently used to get someone's attention as well as make a request of them.

不过,"劳驾"经常用于引起他人注意,同时向他们提出请求。

 

Have a look at some examples:

看看一些例子:

 

劳驾,给我倒杯茶。

láojià, gěi wǒ dào bēi chá.

Excuse me! Could you pour me some tea?

 

劳驾, 把这十块钱换成零钱。

láojià, bǎ zhè shí kuài qián huàn chéng língqián.

Could you change this ten dollar bill, please?


Translated from: chineseboost

2016-06-21

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