I find it much more sincere to accept compliments and show how grateful I am rather than to belittle myself. Therefore I would like to know some phrases in Chinese to accept compliments and show my gratitude rather than overhumbling myself. I do not want to know phrases like 哪裏哪裏.

How do you accept compliments in Chinese without coming off as really arrogant (taking into consideration that the Chinese culture in general highly values modesty and humility)? Although in the West it is certainly possible to accept compliments and be modest at the same time.

E.g. in English we might say:

I'm very happy to hear that!

I'm glad you liked it (for a performance or something like that)

It's very kind of you to say that.

Thank you :D

  • What is wrong with 哪裡哪裡? I mean is there something specifically about it or do you not want anything similar? – Semaphore Jul 23 '14 at 10:12
  • I don't want phrases like 哪裡哪裡. 哪裡哪裡 is used to deflect and reject compliments even if you actually do accept what they have to say. But I would like a way to verbally express that I accept that I am good at something whilst still being relatively modest. – user6034 Jul 23 '14 at 10:21
  • It's a standard way of accepting compliments while being modest, though. Do you take issue with 過獎了 too? – Semaphore Jul 23 '14 at 10:23
  • Well, that one's better. But it's still nothing like saying: I'm glad you liked it. It translates as over-praise, which means that you are saying that you aren't that good even if you think otherwise. – user6034 Jul 23 '14 at 10:26
  • I don't think it is reasonable to dissect customary, set phrases in a language with literal translations like that. Either you want to obey the cultural context, or you should ignore modesty/humility expectations altogether. – Semaphore Jul 23 '14 at 10:34

This question is a bit self-contradictory to me.

On the one hand, you asked for responses in keeping with Chinese culture's "highly [valued] modesty and humility". Yet on the other, you explicitly ruled out a customary phrases doing exactly that. Is there a specific issue you have with 哪裡哪裡 or are you rejecting all similar phrases?

Perhaps there's some misunderstanding here. Phrases like 過獎了 or 哪裡哪裡 and equivalent are hardly "overhumbling" or "belittling". They are in fact simply standard ways of accepting compliments with appropriate modesty and humility, as the question asks for. It would not be understood by most people as "rejecting" a compliment.

Having said that, you don't have to take "modesty and humility" into that much consideration. To levelly accept compliments without trying to show those virtues, simply use 謝謝, a plain "thank you".

Or you can straight up translate English into Chinese:

  • 你喜欢让我很高兴 - I'm glad you liked it.
  • 得到你的夸奖很高兴 - I'm very happy to hear your compliments.
  • 你太仁慈了 - You're too kind.
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  • So despite the literal translation, 哪裡哪裡 wouldn't sound like: "I'm not really that good." in English would? – user6034 Jul 23 '14 at 10:48
  • @user6868 the literal translation is more like "where where?" In any case, you can't directly translate phrases into a different culture and expect it to "sound" the same. – Semaphore Jul 23 '14 at 10:54
  • Thank you for the answer. I think I did misunderstand a little. It's nice to have a few other phrases to accept compliments but I'm not too fussed about using 哪裡哪裡 anymore. – user6034 Jul 23 '14 at 11:15
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    You can say 你太客气/you are too kind. But basically I support Semaphore's objection to the question. When people ask "how are you?" do you feel a need to tell them how you are? If not, then when people pay you a compliment maybe you could forego telling them how true you think it is. – Colin McLarty Jul 23 '14 at 13:10

As a local Chinese, I can tell you that young people are getting more and more simple and straight at your point.

Young people (me included :P) tend to use words like "谢谢"、"真的吗?",etc. But I think you have a misunderstanding on "哪里" and "过奖了". They don't make any sense literally. They are just old-to-now phrases used for accepting compliments. The wisest guy Zhuge Liang(诸葛亮) always said "略懂,略懂" which means KNOW LITTLE literally.

And why are those phrases popular from past to nowadays? Modesty is the stereotype and characteristic of most Asian people. It has become a part of Chinese culture, which people react to compliments that way.

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When I was studying Mandarin all of my Instructors would always say, "你太客气。", which means, "You are too kind". This would acknowledge their compliment without inferring that the persons observation is incorrect. Also, as was pointed out before, a simple, "谢谢”, would suffice.

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