Chinese Vocabulary | 4 ways to respond to compliments or flattery

If you speak Chinese and have been to China, you probably know that Chinese people love to compliment foreigners on their Chinese. Next time you get complimented, instead of going back to your standard 谢谢 (xiè xiè – “thank you”) response, why not vary it up with one of these replies?

1) 没有没有 (méi yǒu méi yǒu – “no, no”)

This is a standard response that is more humble than 谢谢 since you’re not fully agreeing with the compliment.

2) 没有那么厉害 (méiyǒu nàme lìhài – “no I’m not that awesome”)

This is a response that makes sense if your complimenter is really laying it on thick with something like “你的中文真好” (nǐde zhōngwén zhēnhǎo – “your Chinese is REALLY good”).

3) 哪里哪里 (nǎlǐ nǎlǐ – “no, not at all”)

This is a lot like “没有没有” but sounds slightly more polite. Interestingly, 哪里 also means “where?” in questions.

4) 过奖 (guò jiǎng – “you speak too highly of me”)

If you want to show off a bit while acting modest, this is the “coolest” response out of the 4 responses. Your complimenter may go from thinking your Chinese is pretty good to thinking that it’s really good.

This is a super versatile one that you can use in any of the following combinations (they all mean basically the same thing):

过奖  (guòjiǎng)

过奖 (nǐ guòjiǎng)

过奖了 (guòjiǎng le)

过奖了 (nǐ guòjiǎng le)

Comments? Questions? Anything else you say to deal with such situations? Let us know!

P.S. Like this post? Check out our other Chinese Vocabulary posts!

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3 Responses to Chinese Vocabulary | 4 ways to respond to compliments or flattery

  1. JohnGuo January 9, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    Is there any other, maybe funny ways if somebody compliments your chinese? I`m so tired of 哪里哪里, and 过奖过奖 always gets me laughs.

    • Alan January 9, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

      Hi John,

      That’s a good idea for a post. I’ll think of some more creative things that you can whip out next time. Thanks!


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