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Lesson 037 Sorry

07-08-2010 15:30 BJT

Cam: It's time to Perfect Chinese your way in only 5 minutes a day.  Welcome to Chinese Studio. Hi, I’m Cam. And beside me is Yajie.
Yajie: Zao shang hao.  In the next 5 minutes, we are going to learn how to apologize and make excuses in Chinese, which should come in handy! 
Cam: No kidding!  I’m looking forward to this show.  Let’s check Key Words of the Day.

********** Key words of the day *********
Today we’ll learn how to say sorry in Chinese. 对不起, 抱歉 没关系 or 没什么.  For more explanation, stay tuned with today’s Chinese Studio on China Radio International.

Yajie: Both 对不起 and 抱歉mean ‘sorry’. So when you’ve done something wrong, you can use either of them to show your regret.
Cam: So what are the tones?
Yajie:  对, dui, is in the forth falling tone. 不 is of the same tone, bu, 不. 起, qi, third tone, 起. All together, 对不起 means ‘sorry’.
Cam: Dui bu qi.  I can use that when I bump into someone on the subway.
Yajie: Besides 对不起, 抱歉 can also be applied in the same case.

Cam:  bao qian.
Yajie: If you feel really sorry, you’d put 真 in front. 真, zhen, first tone. It is like hen which we’ve learned before.  Zhen means ‘really’. 真对不起. 真抱歉 – I'm very sorry.
Cam: Yajie, 真对不起, 真抱歉.
Yajie: It's ok, i'm going to forgive you.没关系. That doesn’t matter.
Cam: 没关系,  Doesn’t matter.
Yajie: Correct. In addition to 没关系, 没什么 has the same meaning. Literally, it means it's nothing.
Cam: Mei shen me.  It’s nothing.  I think I’ve got it. Here are more examples on how to apologize and reply. 

Conversations 1:

Yajie: As I said, 对不起 and 抱歉both mean ‘sorry’. But there are slight differences between them. First, 对不起 is more casual and 抱歉 is more formal. So对不起 is more common in our daily life.
Cam: Second, 对不起 also means ‘Excuse me’ while 抱歉 doesn’t. For example, if I want to get off a crowded bus, I could say 对不起 when shouldering my way out. Here 对不起 means ‘Excuse me’. It’ll sound strange if replaced by 抱歉. Here is another example.

Conversation 2:

Cam:  For example, excuse me, could you tell me how to get to the bus station?  How would I answer that? 
Yajie:  A negative reply can be对不起,我不知道。Sorry, I don’t know.
Cam:  And then I could say mei guanxi.  It doesn’t matter. 

Conversation 3:

Cam: Got it? Hope so. Now let’s look back at the key points of today’s lesson.

******** Key Words reminder
Now you know how to apologize Chinese. 对不起 or 抱歉. The response is usually 没关系 or 没什么.


Yajie: Well, that’s it for today. Oh, almost forgot. I have one more thing for you, Cam. In Chinese, a trouble maker is nicknamed as 捣蛋鬼, literally, Smash Egg Devil. Do you like the title?
Cam: It doesn’t sound friendly, doesn’t it? But I’ll remember that and I’ll be sure to use it on somebody! 
Yajie: Time to wind up this show. Today’s question of the day is:  How do you say, I’m sorry in Chinese?  You can send your answer to
Cam: And if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions about our show, email us at that same address.  It is  And visit us on our website anytime at, and click Learn Chinese.
Yajie:  See you tomorrow!
Cam:  Mingtian jian!

Editor:Shi Taoyang |Source: CRI

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