5 Ways to Say “Excuse Me” in Public
Crowds are a fact of life in China.
So what do you say if you’re in a hurry and have to get past people?
Perhaps you’ve been silently bumping into and running past them…
Just in case, here are 5 authentic ways to say “excuse me” in that context in Mandarin Chinese:
1) 借过 (jiè ɡuò): If you’re really in a hurry, you can repeat this while you’re running. It means “I want to borrow (借过 – jiè) your road, please let me pass 过 (ɡuò).”
“yǒu wèi chéngkè bùduàn hǎn zhe’jièɡuò, jièɡuò‘, dàn zhídào chēmén jíjiāng guānbì shí, cái mǎntóudàhàn de jǐ xià le chē”
“A passenger was constantly yelling “excuse me, excuse me,” but it was only until the car doors were about to close that he – face full of sweat – was able to get out of the car”
2) 让一让(ràng yi ràng): This is a polite way of asking someone to “allow (让 – ràng)” you to pass. You can use it by itself, and also with other words, eg:
2A) 麻烦您让一让. (má fan nín ràng yi ràng.)
2B) 请让一让. (qǐng ràng yi ràng.)
2C) 劳驾您让一让. (láo jià nín ràng yi ràng. – “劳驾” is covered at the end)
3) 让一下(ràng yi xià): Similar to 让一让(ràng yi ràng).
“tā gāodà de shēnqū, zhēdǎng le shēnhòu guānzhòng de shìxiàn, yǒu rén shìyì tā ràngyixià“
“His tall and big frame blocked the line of sight of the audience behind him, and someone signaled for him to move out of the way“
4) 过一下(ɡuò yi xià): This is similar to 让一下, but the difference is that the subject is yourself rather than the person you are speaking to. You are asking if you can “pass (过 – ɡuò)”, rather than if they can “let (让 – ràng)” you pass.
To be polite, it’s best that this one is used together with “劳驾 (láo jià),” as in “劳驾, 过一下” (láo jià, ɡuò yi xià“).
5) 劳驾(láo jià): This is perhaps the most polite, and it’s also flexible. You can also use this word for other tasks.
“zuò zài zhàoyànxiá lǐmiàn, yào chūqù, shuō le shēng’láojià ‘, qǐng tā ràngyiràng”
“Sitting on the inside of Zhao Yanxia (a famous Peking opera actress), (she) wanted to go out, and said “excuse me,” asking to let her pass”
Hope that this post on “excuse me” can help you avoid some awkward moments in public!