“Excuse Me” in Chinese: 6 Phrases to Get You Through the Crowds

Crowds are a fact of life in China—this is important to know if you hope to do any traveling there.

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…

Now you don’t have to do that!

Here are six authentic ways to say “excuse me” in Chinese.


1. 借过 (jiè guò) — Excuse me

借 is “borrow” and 过 is “pass,” so literally this phrase means something like “borrow (your) road.”

It’s used in a similar manner as “please let me through!” in English, so if you’re really in a hurry, you can repeat this as you go—like a person in this story about crowded public transportation:


(yǒu wèi chéng kè bù duàn hǎn zhe “jiè guò jiè guò”, dàn zhí dào chē mén jí jiāng guān bì shí, cái mǎn tóu dà hàn de jǐ xià le chē.)

A passenger was continuously yelling “excuse me, excuse me,” but it was only when 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 yí ràng) — Give way

让 means “to give way” or “to allow.” This expression is a polite way of asking someone to “allow” you to pass.

You can use it by itself or in conjunction with other words. These all translate to essentially the same thing in English:

麻烦您让一让 (má fan nín ràng yí ràng.) — Excuse me, please let me by.

让一让 (qǐng ràng yí ràng.— Please give way.

劳驾您让一让 (láo jià nín ràng yí ràng.) — Excuse me, please give way.

Throw in a Chinese honorific to make it extra polite!

3. 让一下 (ràng yí xià) — Make way

This one is similar to the previous phrase. Here, you’re basically saying the same thing and asking someone to move a bit.

Here’s a sentence from this article as a real-world example:


(tā gāo dà de shēn qū, zhē dǎng le shēn hòu guān zhòng de shì xiàn, yǒu rén shì yì tā ràng yí xià.)

His big, tall frame blocked the line of sight of the audience behind him, and someone signaled for him to move out of the way.

4.  劳驾 (láo jià) — Excuse me

This is perhaps the most polite way of saying “excuse me,” as it implies something like “may I trouble you?”

It’s a very flexible term that can be used in many situations. Take this example from an article about the Peking Opera:


(zuò zài zhào yàn xiá lǐ miàn, tā yào chū qù, yú shì shuō le shēng “láo jià”, qǐng tā ràng yī ràng.)

Sitting on the inside of Zhao Yanxia [a famous Peking opera actress], [she] wanted to go out, so [she] said “excuse me,” asking to let her pass.

In fact, 劳驾 is so polite that you can combine it a not-so-polite option, like 过一下 (guò yí xià) — coming through.

过一下 is similar to 让一下, but the subject of the sentence is yourself instead of the person you’re speaking to. It’s like saying you’re going to pass someone, rather than nicely asking if they can let you pass.

But to be polite, you can say:

劳驾,过一下。 (láo jià, guò yí xià.) — Excuse me, coming through.

5. 不好意思 (bù hǎo yì si) — Pardon me

不好意思 is a very common way to say “excuse me.” It implies a sense of courtesy like the English phrases “pardon me,” “forgive me” or even “sorry to bother you.”

You can use this phrase to get past people, or to preface a question, especially if you need something from them.

(bù hǎo yì si, wǒ kě yǐ jiè yòng nǐ de bǐ ma?)
Pardon me, could I borrow your pen?

6. 对不起 (duì bu qǐ) — Sorry

While 不好意思 can sometimes mean “sorry,” 对不起 is stronger and consequently used less often.

In terms of “excuse me,” you’d want to say 对不起 if you accidentally bump into someone. For example:

对不起!我的错。 (duì bu qǐ! wǒ de cuò.) — I’m sorry! My bad.


Hopefully, now that you know how to say “excuse me” in Chinese, you can avoid some awkward moments in public!

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe