Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Fun &Easy Chinese by ChineseClass101.com!
嗨大家好,我是李殷如. Hài dàjiā hǎo, Wǒ shì Lǐ Yīnrú.
Hi everyone. I’m Yinru Li.
Can you say “sorry” in Chinese?
We all make mistakes, but we can make up for them by saying the right thing. Let’s learn how to to apologize in Chinese, because there are lots of ways!
对不起 duì bu qǐ
抱歉 bào qiàn
不好意思 bù hǎo yì si
都怪我 dōu guài wǒ
别生气 bié shēng qì
我向你道歉 wǒ xiàng nǐ dào qiàn
These are the magic words and phrases that can smooth over conflicts and misunderstandings. In this lesson, you’ll learn all about these apologies.
This is the most standard and proper way to say “sorry” 对不起 duì bu qǐ. [slow] 对不起
However, 对不起 is more than just feeling “sorry”. It’s a very serious apology, and it implies that you’re sincerely asking for someone’s forgiveness. So this phrase 对不起 can be very strong. For example, use 对不起 if you break something at a friend’s house.
Another common way to say sorry is 抱歉 bào qiàn [slow] 抱歉. It implies that you feel sorry that things happened this way.
The differences between 抱歉 and 对不起 are 1. 抱歉 could be a little lighter than 对不起 in most circumstances.
2. 抱歉 is used when the person apologizing might not have caused the trouble, but is still feeling sorry for the inconvenience.
For example, you may have heard this expression in an airport announcement: “我们很抱歉地通知您..., wǒ men hěn bào qiàn de tōng zhī nín,” meaning “we’re sorry to inform you…”[slow] 我们很抱歉地通知您.
Next 不好意思 bù hǎo yì si [slow] 不好意思
Compared with the last two apologies, 不好意思 is more casual. It’s used to say sorry when things are not so as “severe” or “damaging.” It’s still a courtesy phrase and used frequently in everyday life. It literally means “to be embarrassed”. 不好意思 bù hǎo yì si.
不好意思 is also used before you ask someone a question or interrupt them. In this case, it could be considered as an equivalent of the English “Excuse me”.
Amy is exploring Shanghai, but can’t find the subway station. She asks a stranger where Subway Station is. The lady apologizes, as she doesn’t know either. Pay attention to the two circumstances in which 不好意思 is used. One is used before interrupting someone, the other one is used to apologize.
àimǐ: Bù hǎo yì si, qǐng wèn dì tiě zhàn zài nǎ lǐ?
Amy: Excuse me, where is the Subway Line 2?
Lù rén: Bù hǎo yì si a, wǒ yě bù zhī dào.
Passerby: I’m sorry, I don’t know either.
The three phrases we mentioned above: 对不起,抱歉,不好意思 are often used with intensifiers before them. For example, 真 zhēn is an adverb meaning “really” 真. So we often say “I’m really sorry” as 真对不起,真抱歉,真不好意思。
Another frequently used intensifier is 实在 shí zài, meaning “truly” 实在 : 实在对不起,实在抱歉,实在不好意思. “I’m truly sorry.”
In addition to the standard apology phrases introduced, you’ll need something to take the blame. This is a common one that is used in casual situations: 都怪我 dōu guài wǒ [slow] 都怪我
It means “it’s all my fault”. 都 means “all” 都, 怪 means “to blame” 怪, 我 is “I” or “me”. 都怪我 It’s all my fault.
One possible scenario for this phrase in China is, when a parent is mad at the child for doing something wrong. The grandparent steps in and takes the blame by saying 都怪我 “It’s all my fault” 是我没看好她 shì wǒ méi kān hǎo tā. “I wasn’t watching her.” 都怪我, 是我没看好她, Dōu guài wǒ,shì wǒ méi kān hǎo tā.
Another phrase used when admitting a mistake and trying to calm the other person down is 别生气 bié shēng qì [slow] 别生气.
It means “Don’t be mad.” 别生气。别 means “don’t” 别, 生气 means “to be mad or angry”. 生气。 This is also used, most of the time, in close relationships.
Xiao Wu has been waiting at a cafe for his boyfriend for more than 30 minutes. Finally the boyfriend 杨昊 shows up. Of course he owes her an apology. Let’s watch and see what 杨昊 has to say.
Yáng Hào: Shí zài duì bu qǐ ā, lù shang dǔ chē.
“Hao Yang: I’m so sorry, the traffic was really bad.”
“Xiao Wu: ...(not saying anything but rolling her eyes)”
Yáng Hào : Nǐ bié shēng qì. Dōu guài wǒ.
“Hao Yang: Don’t be mad. It was my fault.”
Did you get what 杨昊 said? He apologized and explained that he was stuck in traffic. Then he asked Xiao Wu to stop being angry and admitted he was wrong.
The last phrase is a very formal way to apologize. 我向你道歉 wǒ xiàng nǐ dào qiàn. ”My apology to you.” 我向你道歉。
我 “I”, 向你 means “to you” 向你, and 道歉 means “aplogize” 道歉. Together “I apologize to you” or “My apology to you”. 我向你道歉.
You can use it in a face-to-face conversation, when you’re formally apologizing to someone, or you can use it for a written apology. 我向你道歉。
It’s time to recap what we’ve learned in this lesson.
Imagine you’re shopping for shoes. The sales lady returns with an apology because they don’t have your size. As it’s not necessarily her fault, is 对不起 or 抱歉 more suitable?
Right, in this case, 抱歉 is more suitable.
抱歉,没有您的码了。Bào qiàn, méi yǒu nín de mǎ le.
“Sorry, we don’t have your size.”
She spoke so fast and you couldn’t catch what she said. What would be the appropriate phrase to use before you ask her to repeat what she said? 不好意思 or 抱歉?
不好意思 is used more common in this case.
不好意思,请再说一遍。Bù hǎo yì si, qǐng zài shuō yí biàn.
“Sorry, please say that again.”
Now you arrive at your parents’ place. You just realized that you forgot to pick up some groceries your mom asked you to get. Without that she can’t make 饺子 jiǎozi “dumplings” for lunch. You apologize to her and say “It’s all my fault. Don’t be mad.” In Chinese, it is...
都怪我。别生气。Dōu guài wǒ. Bié shēng qì.
“It’s all my fault. Don’t be mad.”
Your mom is still mad. You’re trying to make her laugh by making a very serious and formal apology. You bow to her and say: “I apologize to you.”, which is...
我向您道歉. wǒ xiàng nǐ dào qiàn.
We use 您 here instead of 你 because it’s more formal and respectful.
Great job!
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See you next time! 再见!Zài jiàn!