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Lesson Transcript

Taiwanese Mandarin Survival Phrases Lesson 10: Apologies
In this lesson, we will cover phrases used for apologizing. In Chinese, there are two ways to say "I am sorry" which translate to “my apologies” and "excuse me."
Here is the first way:
In Chinese, a simple translation of “I’m sorry” is 對不起(Duì bu qǐ).
Let’s break it down by tone:
First we have 對(duì). This is in fourth tone.
Next is 不(bù). By itself, this is in fourth tone. But, in this combination, it has no tone.
Finally, 起 (qǐ) is in third one.
Now let’s break it down by meaning:
對(duì) means “right.”
不(bù) means “no” or “not”
起 (qǐ) means “go” or “work”
When translated into English, this means “I’m sorry.”
Altogether, we have 對不起(Duì bu qǐ).
Listen again, one more time, slowly:
[Slow] 對不起(Duì bu qǐ).
[Normal] 對不起(Duì bu qǐ).
The next phrase we will learn is 不好意思(Bù hǎo yì si).
This phrase can also mean “I’m sorry” but also has a more nuanced meaning that translates to “I feel badly” or “I feel embarrassed.”
Let’s break it down by tone:
First we have 不(bù). This is in fourth tone.
Next we have 好(hǎo). This is in third tone.
Next we have 意(yì). This is in fourth tone.
Last we have 思(si). This is usually first tone. But in this combination, it has no tone.
Let’s break it down by meaning:
不(bù) means "not."
好(hǎo) means "good."
意思(yì si) means "meaning."
Literally, this phrase means “not good meaning,” but it can be translated as “I feel bad” or “I feel embarrassed.”
Altogether, we have 不好意思(Bù hǎo yì si).
Listen again, one more time, slowly:
[Slow] 不好意思(Bù hǎo yì si)
[Normal] 不好意思(Bù hǎo yì si)
You can use 對不起(Duì bù qǐ), if you accidentally step on someone’s foot, or do something similar.
In the same situation, you can also use 不好意思(Bù hǎo yì si), but the meaning will change slightly. You would say 不好意思(Bù hǎo yì si) to show you feel embarrassed. We can also use 不好意思(Bù hǎo yì si) to say “excuse me” when asking for directions or the time.
Finally, we will learn how to say “no problem” when someone apologizes to you.
In Chinese, this is 沒問題 (Méi wèntí).
Let’s break it down by tone:
First we have 沒(Méi) is in the second tone.
Next, 問(wèn) is in the fourth tone.
Finally, 題(tí) is in the second tone, or no tone.
Now, let’s break it down by meaning:
沒(Méi) means “not”
問題(wèntí) means “question” or ”issue”
Altogether we have 沒問題.(Méi wèntí)
Listen again, one more time, slowly:
[Slow] 沒問題.(Méi wèntí)
[Normal] 沒問題. (Méi wèntí)

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