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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Yinru here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Chinese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is…
How do I use “excuse me” in Chinese?
As an English learner, I found the English phrase “excuse me” extremely useful. You can use it in many circumstances. I’ve been asked by my students if there’s one literal translation or phrase just like it in Chinese. Unfortunately, there isn’t. In this lesson, we’re going to talk about how to say “excuse me” in different circumstances.
Scenario No.1: You want to get someone’s attention. So, you can wave at them and say 你好! nǐhǎo! It’s easy and polite. In a restaurant, you may say to a waiter:
你好,点餐!nǐhǎo , diǎncān! (“Excuse me, we are ready to order!”)
If you’re lost in a shopping mall and trying to find the elevator, you may ask a saleslady or a shopper by saying:
你好,请问电梯在哪里?nǐhǎo, qǐngwèn diàntī zài nǎlǐ? (“Excuse me, may I ask where the elevator is?”)
Scenario No. 2: You’re passing through a big crowd. You might say: 借过一下 jiè guò yíxià. The literal translation for this is “borrow your way a little.” So you’re on a crowded train at rush hour and you need to get off. Just elbow your way out and say:
借过一下,我下车. jiè guò yíxià, Wǒ xiàchē. (“Excuse me, I'm getting off.”)
Scenario No. 3: You need to apologize. For example, you have to excuse yourself from a conversation to answer an important phone call, or you just sneezed really loudly. You can apologize by saying:
抱歉!Bàoqiàn (“Sorry!”)
Or, in the case of a phone call:
抱歉,我接个电话。Bàoqiàn,Wǒ jiē ge diànhuà. (“Excuse me, I have to take a phone call.”)
抱歉,我要离开一会儿,马上就回来。Bàoqiàn, Wǒ yào líkāi yìhuǐr, mǎshàng jiù huílai. (Excuse me, I have to leave; I will be right back. )


How was it? Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below, and I’ll try to answer them!
再见!zàijiàn! Bye!