Questions tagged [politeness]

For questions about polite expressions, etiquette, formalities, social norms, etc.

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21
votes
7answers
708 views

How should I say “I feel very good/I'm very fine” in response to 你好吗?

I've read that when asked the simple question 你好吗? ("How are you?"), answering 我很好 is the standard form, while 我好 is simply not used. 很 means "very", but 我很好 is simply translated as "I'm fine." and ...
14
votes
3answers
44k views

What is the formal/polite way to begin and end an email in Chinese?

In English, formal emails, e.g. emails to a professor, often start with "Hi", "Hello", "Dear" followed by the receiver's name (and title, if applicable). The ending is ...
9
votes
4answers
3k views

Effective and polite way to end a phone conversation

What are some ways that I can let the other speaker know I want to finish a phone conversation and am going to hang up. I frequently come across as too abrupt. Usually something along the lines of ...
27
votes
6answers
3k views

How polite is too polite?

I've noticed in China that people don't tend to use as many 'polite' words as we do in western languages, like 'please' or 'thank you'. I want to make it clear that I'm not complaining about this; I ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

In what kind of scenarios are honorifics such as 大姐, 大哥, and 师傅 used, and when is it acceptable or polite to use them?

In Chinese films I've often heard characters refer to each other using some of these honorifics: 大姐 dàjiě (big sister; auntie) 大哥 dàgē (big brother) 师傅 shīfù (master) In what kind of scenarios are ...
8
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2answers
203 views

Are any of these honorifics still in use today? 愚, 鄙, 敝, 卑, 窃, 仆, 婢, 妾, 在下, 贱妾, 小人, 小女, 草民, 民女, 奴才, 奴婢, 奴家

Are any of these honorifics still in use today? If not, might they be used and understood (as a joke) by regular Chinese in, say, a period film, much as English speakers would recognize someone using ...
2
votes
2answers
130 views

Is there a way to say “I respectfully thank you” to familiar elders?

From here. Honorific Verbs Like nouns and proper nouns, some Chinese verbs can also be complemented with an honorific modifier. For example, the verbs 告gào ("to tell"), 还huán ("to ...
4
votes
4answers
346 views

Is there any official way to translate Chinese names into English?

Is there any official way to translate Chinese names into English? Chinese is of course: surname + name, usually when translated into English why is the same formatting kept? 毛泽东 is usually written ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

How do you politely ask for things in Mandarin?

I like to say please sometimes when I want to be polite to someone when asking them for something. Is this customary in Mandarin? For example, if I wanted to ask for some water, I might ask my ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Why in Chinese Bible (和合本), “you” was translated as “你” instead of “您”?

For example, in 詩 篇 Psalms: 102:1 〔 困 苦 人 發 昏 的 時 候 、 在 耶 和 華 面 前 吐 露 苦 情 的 禱 告 。 〕 耶 和 華 阿 、 求 你 聽 我 的 禱 告 、 容 我 的 呼 求 達 到 你 面 前 。 102:2 我 在 急 難 的 日 子 、 求 你 向 我 側 耳 、 不 要 向 我 掩 面 . 我 呼 求 ...
1
vote
6answers
278 views

What does 委屈你了 mean in this situation?

Suppose your friend invites you to dinner. He prepares a dish that he knows is too spicy for you, but you're a good sport and try it anyway; it actually turns out to be quite tasty. He says 委屈你了. "I ...
1
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3answers
1k views

Is it polite to answer a question asked by a senior by starting with “回…的話”?

For example: 老師: 你多大了? 學生: 回先生的話, 學生今年八歲。 Or 學生: 回老師的話, 學生今年八歲。 It sounds very polite to me but I do not hear it often, even in the Chinese culture, where teachers are generally respected.
11
votes
5answers
2k views

What is a polite or neutral way to ask for someone to step out of your way?

In English I would say "excuse me". Some possibilities that come to mind are 请让,对不起,不好意思. I believe I have heard someone say "让!" before. Is that considered impolite?
9
votes
4answers
15k views

What is the polite way to respond to a sneeze in Chinese?

In English, one might say "bless you" or "gesundheit" in response to a friend sneezing. Is there a Chinese equivalent? If so, what is it?
0
votes
4answers
85 views

To express surprise with disappointment, if 卧槽 is vulgar, is 苦也 considered a decent alternative?

Many people say 卧槽 when something unpleasant happens surprisingly. However, this word is considered as vulgar. So how to express such feelings decently without using offensive words? Is 苦也 a good ...
3
votes
3answers
801 views

“吃飽了” versus “ 吃好了”

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
275 views

What is a polite way to ask to 打包 (dǎbāo) “take away” my meal? Is 我想打包 acceptable?

After learning about being polite by using 用一下, 用一用, and 用用 (etc.) instead of just 用 (see my previous question), I'm a bit more careful when asking for things. The other day I was at the cafeteria ...
1
vote
1answer
74 views

Meaning of 祝愿 as wishing or congratulating

I wrote 哇,祝愿碰运气,能碰上这个组啊. By this I meant I wish I can be lucky and end up in that group. I am worried it will be taken as congratulations on you being lucky ending up in that group (which sounds like "...
2
votes
2answers
445 views

Difference between 室友 and 同屋

I am very alarmed! At university, as far as I can remember, we learned 同屋 as “roommate” and 室友 as a synonym, particularly popular in southern China. Now this site claims that: 同屋" usually refers ...
4
votes
4answers
3k views

How to address a teacher one knows well (in conversation and emails). Is 亲爱 “dear” ever appropriate?

Can one use 亲爱 "dear" in a letter to a teacher one knows well? In the specific case that triggered this question, the student, who is a male student in his late 20s, is being addressed 亲爱的[name]兄弟 ...
3
votes
2answers
163 views

Asking the Parents of Small Children to be Quiet in Public Areas [closed]

I have three very lovely, yet very loud Chinese children living next door to me in my condominium. Two of the children are quite young, and I do realize children by their very nature are loud; ...
9
votes
1answer
354 views

Politeness in referring to a recent death

Some people in the US normally avoid saying a person has "died." They say the person "passed on," or "has left us." Are there similar, gentle ways in Chinese to avoid saying a person died? Would it ...
2
votes
6answers
412 views

How to introduce “Husband” in social occasions?

Some common words are 先生 or 老公, Are there any other options that would be more socially appropriate?
2
votes
1answer
125 views

Comparing forms of humble self reference

Because of one of the languages I grew up with, I have a strong desire to avoid using 我, especially when something follows that could constitute praise. I am always conscious that my language skill ...
1
vote
2answers
898 views

How to end an email asking for permission from my boss in Chinese?

I need to ask my boss permission to move forward with a project. I am sending him an email, but I'm not sure how to close the email. I understand that it is common to wish health and happiness, etc. ...
6
votes
2answers
386 views

Is 同性恋 considered a slur?

Is calling a homosexual person 同性恋 rude, offensive, or a slur? My dictionary translates it simply as "homosexual" but then in the usage examples gives "fairy," which is definitely a slur in English ("...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the polite/proper way to address elderly whom I am not familiar with?

I was wondering what is the polite way to address elderlies I do not know. Take the following context for example. Perhaps I visit a store and there is an elderly woman running the register and I ...
7
votes
4answers
363 views

Prefacing questions with 请问

When I ask a stranger for directions or other information I begin with 请问. It is especially important for me to use some opening phrase since people do not expect a foreigner to speak Chinese to them,...
2
votes
4answers
298 views

How appropriate is “拜拜”?

How appropriate, in terms of casualness and/or childishness, is "拜拜"? Is it as childish as "Bye-bye" would be in English, or is it more acceptable? In case location matters, I'm mainly interested in ...
8
votes
1answer
40k views

How do we wish someone to get better?

When we know somebody is sick, how can we wish them to get better? What are the best ways and also the standard ones to do that? I'd like you to differentiate among some things, if and when ...
1
vote
2answers
381 views

Chinese phrases to encourage better 关系 [closed]

关系 It appears that building strong relationships or guān xì (关系) is very important in Chinese society. Would readers be able to share some scenarios or phrases that would help build such 关系? Similar ...
1
vote
1answer
211 views

How and when to consider 面子 when speaking Chinese?

Avoid Losing Face ( 沒面子 ) As a student of Chinese I would like always maintain a respectful tone. It can be very easy when speaking a second language to make mistakes that offend others. I would like ...
11
votes
8answers
2k views

How should I introduce my wife?

It just seems that 太太、老婆、妻子 are all either overly formal or make my wife sound older than she is (she's not even 30). Maybe one of those terms is actually more acceptable than I think it is; I don't ...
9
votes
6answers
831 views

Using 老头 / 老头子 when speaking to others

I'm trying to get some clarification on whether or not it is impolite to use 老头 / 老头子 when speaking outside a group of friends when referring to a third party. From my understanding 老头 is quite ...
7
votes
7answers
4k views

Correct/Polite way of asking “Can we speak in chinese?”

I would like to preface this by saying I'm Australian and speak with an Australian accent when I'm speaking English which can be hard to digest for a lot of people new to Australia. A lot of 1st gen ...
7
votes
4answers
4k views

How to politely ask someone to please be quiet

There are particularly loud Chinese fellows working together in the university study room I'm working in. How do I politely ask them to quiet down? I found a literal translation on Google Translate (...
14
votes
4answers
7k views

What is a polite way to ask “may I ask who is speaking?”

A man I don't know calls me and starts talking to me in Chinese. All is fine, except I don't know who he is. I sense I'm not the person he's looking for. How do I ask who he is without being too blunt:...
6
votes
2answers
812 views

How to address fellow students junior to oneself (学妹,学弟)?

I have sometimes wondered what would be the appropriate way of addressing (fellow) students that are junior to oneself. Given name? Full name? Name + 妹/第? Are there even cases where one can use 哥/兄 ...
8
votes
2answers
781 views

Where is the correct place to use 您 when addressing others?

Almost every foreign text book I've seen mentions 您 as a polite or formal address to others, however I rarely hear it said and rarely see it written except when addressing customers and occasionally ...
14
votes
4answers
9k views

How do I say “damn!” or “bloody hell” in Chinese?

The phrase 他妈的 has been explained in this question. Since I'm a no-expletives guy, I don't feel comfortable so close to the f-word. :) I was wondering what would be the correct way to use some of the ...
2
votes
2answers
621 views

Ordering food from a menu in a restaurant

How should I order food from a menu in a restaurant? In English I'd usually say something like 'I'll have the beef' or 'one of these and two of those' while pointing. In the past in China I have ...