Compliments in Chinese || 8 That You Need to Know
Once you’ve started taking your language learning from the classroom out into the real world, you’re bound to get comments from just about every person you talk to.
Don’t worry: Chinese people are generally very friendly and positive with their feedback on your language skills. Unfortunately, this can make it a little difficult to gauge what their feedback shows about your actual progress.
Here’s a handy guide to help you interpret some of the most common compliments in Chinese you might receive.
1 – 你中文说得很好！Nǐ zhōngwén shuō dé hěn hǎo!
Your Chinese is very good!
What it actually means: You said 你好 and it was comprehensible.
2 – 你中文说得流利！Nǐ zhōngwén shuō dé liúlì!
You are fluent in Chinese!
What it actually means: You said a complete sentence and it was comprehensible.
3 – 你中文说得挺好！Nǐ zhōngwén shuō dé tǐng hǎo!
Your Chinese is quite good!
What it actually means: You attempted real communication. It didn’t go very well. This person realizes that you have studied some Chinese (thus the choice of 挺 instead of 很) and feels bad for you. Keep trying, friend.
4 – 你中文说得不错/还可以。Nǐ zhōngwén shuō dé bùcuò/hái kěyǐ.
Your Chinese is not bad/alright.
What it actually means: Your Chinese is not bad/alright.
5 – 你中文说得蛮好。Nǐ zhōngwén shuō dé mán hǎo.
Your Chinese is pretty good.
What it actually means: You can communicate fairly successfully. This person trusts that you will understand more casual language like 蛮 and feels comfortable chatting with you.
6 – 你是四川人吗？Nǐ shì sìchuān rén ma?
Are you from Sichuan?
What it actually means: Congratulations! You’ve been mistaken for a Chinese person. Unfortunately, you’ve been mistaken for someone who normally speaks 四川话 (Sìchuān huà – the dialect of Sichuanese people), which sounds very similar to 普通话 (Pǔtōnghuà – standard Mandarin) but with all different tones. This might be a good time to sign up for another 口语 (kǒuyǔ – speaking) class.
7 – 你普通话讲得比我们这里人还标准。Nǐ pǔtōnghuà jiǎng dé bǐ wǒmen zhèlǐ rén hái biāozhǔn.
Your Mandarin is more standard than people from around here.
What it actually means: Your hard work in 口语 class really paid off. 好好学习天天向上！ Relax a little, pick up a bit of a local accent (or, if you’re extra-determined, your city’s 方言), and you’ll be the coolest 老外 around.
8 – 你中文讲得怎么这么六？！Nǐ zhōngwén jiǎng dé zěnme zhème liù?!
If I need to translate this for you, you’re not ready to hear it.
What it actually means: This is my favorite compliment I have ever received. Beyond this is uncharted wilderness; I have no further guidance to offer. Well done, friend, well done.
Any compliments you’ve received before that we may’ve missed out? Drop us a comment below and share your favourite compliments in Chinese with us!
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