I'm doing some translations of New Practical Chinese Reader 2. In lesson 17, there's a dialog between two people, and 不客气 appears as a reply to compliments rather than someone saying 谢谢。Is it supposed to be some kind of joke? I have left it as "don't be polite" in my translation for now.

Thanks in advance.

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  • 2
    It is something like saying "you are welcome" in English.
    – 杨以轩
    Dec 31, 2013 at 5:44
  • 1
    好奇怪啊 一般我们不这么说 不客气 (⊙o⊙)… 还是我的中文下降了? 嘿嘿 但是我是中国人啊
    – Hasoffer
    Dec 31, 2013 at 8:05
  • Thank you for the explanations. So basically the french expression 'de rien' make more sens as a translation to 不客气.
    – user36718
    Sep 11, 2023 at 23:00
  • 不客气 usually is short for 不用客气... That usage appears to be very odd to me. Sep 12, 2023 at 2:28

7 Answers 7


I don't think the accepted answer is approriate given the circumstance of conversation. 这个相声里的“不客气”,是“过奖”的意思:“您过奖了”,或者“不敢当”,something like "You flatter me." 所以到最后一句,就抖出包袱了:说他表快一个小时,仍用了"You flattered me." 显然不合适。

  • I would like to know the reason for the downvotes. And I would also like to know the reason why all of my answers get downvotes within only 20 seconds.
    – lenonya
    Jan 12, 2014 at 6:20
  • 1
    Hi lenonya, so far you haven't received too many downvotes, so don't worry too much. We try to maintain a high quality on the site and people downvote in order to maintain that quality. We expect answers to be correctly formatted and easy to be read by English speakers. Your answer above is hard to read due to formatting and being partly in English and partly in Chinese. Have a look at how some of the other answers are written to get an idea of good formatting. The same applies to your first answer which was written entirely in Chinese. Thanks for your answers and I hope you stick around.
    – going
    Jan 16, 2014 at 22:34
  • Looking back to this question after I got a notification, this answer makes the most sense to me now. 谢谢 :)
    – pg-robban
    Jul 5, 2022 at 6:49
  • "something like "You flatter me."" I think "I am flattered" is probably a better translation.
    – Nobody
    Sep 17, 2023 at 12:18

不客气 is a polite way of acknowledging someone's compliment or thanks. Although it literally translates to "don't be polite", once you consider some equivalent phrases, it's meaning becomes clear.

Equivalents in Chinese:

  • 不用谢 - (no need to thank [me])
  • 别客气

Equivalents in English:

  • You're too kind
  • Don't mention it
  • Not at all
  • I guess "You're too kind" works for the purpose of this joke. I will mark this as the answer.
    – pg-robban
    Dec 31, 2013 at 10:16

It's a way we express humbleness. so the 不客气 is equivalent to "I'm flattered"

  • Makes sense, I guess then the joke works in English as well. But why don't the authors use 哪里 instead?
    – pg-robban
    Dec 30, 2013 at 17:35
  • This is wrong. "I'm flattered" is 过奖了.
    – 杨以轩
    Dec 31, 2013 at 5:20
  • @QuestionOverflow I feel the translation is kind of difficult. If translate it as usual, like congusbongus's answer, it doesn't sound like a joke (doesn't it?) Let alone some phrases with a double meaning.
    – Stan
    Dec 31, 2013 at 5:46
  • @Stan, the joke has nothing to do with how you would translate a phrase. In fact, 不客气 can all be replaced with 过奖了 or 谢谢 without affecting the crosstalk at all.
    – 杨以轩
    Dec 31, 2013 at 6:22

I don't think those "不客气" are of proper usage in daily life.

Since it is from a cross-talking (相声), I think the author of this 相声 is trying to be sarcastic [otherwise, it would not be funny]: some people pretend to be humble and polite but in their heart they are actually very arrogant.

Think of someone who is complimented says "You're welcome" instead of "Thank you" or "I am flattered". Same story.


I think "don't mention it" would be the best here.

Generally "no worries" works too.


My money is on: 别客气 in the 5th line should be "Oh, you're just being polite". In subsequent lines it might be "No, no, no". But the use of 不客气 in succession like this sounds weird.


When you are offered something (food, drink, etc.) it's a way to express "Make yourself at home/Help yourself/etc".

  • 1
    While that is true, this should probably be a comment and not an answer. Jan 7, 2014 at 21:30

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