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Podcast: How to reply modestly in Chinese?

 "Be modest" is one of the Confucian values. After thousand years, it still run strong in China. That’s why people usually won't say "thank you" when praised for something. Instead, they will reply modestly with other common words.


1.哪儿呀 (nǎ ér ya)


"哪儿呀 (nǎ ér ya)" is a polite formula showing one's modesty in a conversation. The speaker uses it as a reply to others' compliment politely, indicating he or she is not as good as what the other person has said. For example:


Nǐ chàng de gēn zhuān yè gē shǒu yí yàng hǎo !

A: 你唱得跟专业歌手一样好!

You sing like a professional singer!


Nǎr ya!

B: 哪儿呀!

Not really!


2.哪里 (nǎ lǐ)


"哪里 (nǎ lǐ)", a very common reply in a conversation, is used to show the speaker's modesty and courtesy. It comes in handy as a modest reply to others' compliments or used to accept others' gratitude politely. "哪里 (nǎ lǐ)" can stand alone or be reduplicated as "哪里哪里 (nǎ lǐ nǎ lǐ)".


Nǐ de zì xiě dé zhēn piào liang.

A: 你的字写得真漂亮。

Your handwriting is very beautiful.


Nǎ lǐ (nǎ lǐ).

B: 哪里(哪里)。

It's nothing.


3.哪儿的话 (nǎr de huà)

"哪儿的话 (nǎ ér de huà)" works as a reply in a conversation, meaning "nothing like that" or "do not say something like that". The speaker uses it to slightly negate compliments or gratitude from others. For example:


Jīn tiān wáng xiān shēng zhēn shì bāng le wǒ men dà máng, fēi cháng gǎn xiè! 

A: 今天王先生真是帮了我们一个大忙,非常感谢!

Mr. Wang has helped us a lot today. Thank you so much!


Nǎr de huà!

B: 哪儿的话!

It's nothing.


4.看你说的 (kàn nǐ shuō de)

"看你说的 (kàn nǐ shuō de)" is one of the common replies showing courtesy in a conversation. It is often used to express one's delight as well as embarrassment at praises or compliments from others. For example:


Kàn le nǐ gāng cái zài wǔ tái shàng de biǎo yǎn, wǒ zì kuì bù rú.

A: 看了你刚才在舞台上的表演,我自愧不如。

I feel ashamed after watching your stage performance just now.


Kàn nǐ shuō de.

B: 看你说的。

You make me embarrassed.


5.彼此彼此 (bǐ cǐ bǐ cǐ)

"彼此彼此 (bǐ cǐ bǐ cǐ)" is used as a modest reply when one gets compliments from others, indicating both are as good as each other. For example:


Zhè cì hé zuò de chéng gōng duō kuī le nǐ ya。

A: 这次合作的成功多亏了你呀。

We cannot have reached the cooperation without your help this time.


bǐ cǐ bǐ cǐ

B: 彼此彼此。

That makes the two of us.


6.说到哪儿去了 (shuō dào nǎ ér qù le)


"说到哪儿去了 (shuō dào nǎ ér qù le)" is another modest reply in a conversation. The speaker often uses it to negate the gratitude from others. For example:


Méi yǒu nǐ de bāng zhù, wǒ zǎo jiù yǐ jīng shī bài le。

A: 没有你的帮助,我早就已经失败了。

Without your help, I might have failed.


shuō dào nǎ ér qù le

B: 说到哪儿去了。



The article is translated and editted by Chinlingo. Please indicate the source for any use, reproduction or transfer. 



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