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One friend advised that after a meal it is more polite for a guest to say "我吃好了" than "我吃飽了." That makes sense but I suppose it could depend on context. Searching the two phrases on Google I see they are about equally common. I did not find a clear pattern of different usages for the two on line, but it was not easy to compare because they are also used in Japanese and many of the webpages are about Japanese.

How different are these phrases in ordinary usage?

Of course 好 in 吃好 is a result complement which does not necessarily mean anything was "good." But do Chinese speakers hear it as suggesting the meal was good?

A similar usage in English is "well and truly," which does not mean anything was done well, only that it definitely was done. In fact this idiom usually occurs with things that are not good: "I am well and truly baffled/tired/stuck."

The Chinese result complement 好 is obviously not like that. It does not suggest that something was a problem! But does 吃好 suggest the meal was good?

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    吃飽了 often reefers to stupidity these days – user3306356 Apr 11 '15 at 16:40
  • @user3306556 can you clarify that? Is it a slang? – aug Apr 13 '15 at 0:59
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I am a Chinese speaker. No, Nothing is relating to meal was good, just you are done, you are full. no more eating. When Chinese greet they always say: Have you eaten yet? Yes, I did. 你吃饭了没有?吃了。 好 not really means good, just as done in some phrases.做好了,写好了,安装好了。 you make sense?

And they are same meaning, interchangeable.

  • And yet my friend recommended "我吃好了" . Maybe it is like @user3306356 suggests, it is better to avoid 吃飽了 because someone could make a joke that it means being stupid. – Colin McLarty Apr 11 '15 at 20:16
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    As I came from south part of china, I don't agree this issue. 我吃饱了,我吃好了。Both are showing no more eating in the dinner room sense. Even when you use it in context 吃饱了饭撑的.having nothing better to do after eating, Couples would go to bed( friendly joke). I don't find it profanity or pejorative. So I don't think it means being stupid. but when someone is content with sex, you would say 吃饱了或喂饱了。when talking in dinner room case. It never means profaned. – kinson zhao Apr 11 '15 at 20:43
  • Hi, Colin, I want to clarify it because you are interested. If some words are used it in an inappropriate situation. Definitely It will be offensive. For instance. 吃饭。sometimes people would indicate you are a 饭桶 a rice bucket. But 吃饭 is a very common phrase for having rice or having dinner/lunch. We use it daily. I guess English are the same thing. some phrases if using in opposite way or inappropriate situation. it will be irony. if answering 我吃饱了。it means I am full. Do you think I am making a joke I will go to bed soon? but if asking 你吃饱了吗?in joking way. it certainly is making fun of you. – kinson zhao Apr 13 '15 at 12:38
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I would say that "我吃飽了" is "I'm full now" while "我吃好了" is "I'm done eating now", so saying that you're done would be more polite compared to saying that you're full

  • You could also use 我吃完了to say you're finished. – doufu Apr 11 '15 at 17:15
  • Not exactly interchangeable. – Kevin Y. Apr 13 '15 at 6:36
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(The following explanation is based on the language habits of my hometown, close to Beijing)

Slang evolution: 吃饱了撑的没事干 -> 吃饱了撑的 -> 吃饱了

Meaning: Too full (or have eaten too much) and have nothing to do.

It implies one have extra energy, which further implies one has spend this extra energy on unnecessary stupidity.

e.g.

A: 他看到你的古董花瓶很破旧,就当作垃圾给扔了。He tossed your antique vase as a piece of garbage, thinking it was broken.

B:

他吃饱了撑的没事干,动我的东西做什么? Has he eaten too much and had nothing else to do? Why did he care about my stuff? (Direct response)

他吃饱了撑的吗?Has he eaten too much? (Most common, semi-direct response)

他今天吃的很饱吧?He must have eaten too much. (Indirect response, sarcasm)

吃饱了Can also be used to insult or play jokes on people obscurely, which is mostly the case between close friends.

Since 吃饱了 can be used in such way, many people, especially waiters/waitresses, would avoid saying it to eliminate misunderstandings.

  • What is your home town? – Colin McLarty Apr 13 '15 at 1:20
  • Hebei province, the one surrounding Beijing. – Kevin Y. Apr 13 '15 at 2:25
  • The friend who suggested not using 吃饱了was born in Hebei and grew up in Shanxi. – Colin McLarty Apr 13 '15 at 9:57

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