Duìbuqǐ

Duìbuqǐ

These guys are really in the doghouse! Haha. When it comes to apologizing in Mandarin, there are many options. But, the most common are: 对不起 (duìbuqǐ) and 不好意思 (bùhǎoyìsi).

Being able to apologize is particularly handy when traveling in a foreign country, because travelers have ample opportunity to demonstrate ignorance of local norms.

Hopefully, your transgressions will not be as serious as these guys’s!

AudioPinyinEnglishExplanation
Zěnme le?What Happened!?Typical reaction to finding things are not as they should be. Tone of voice is everything for this one.
Duìbuqǐ.I’m sorry.Composed of “duì” (towards) “bù” (not) and “qǐ” (rise), it is sort of like saying “I can not raise my face towards you”.
BùhǎoyìsiI’m so embarrased“bùhǎo” (bad) and “yìsi” (meaning) combine, for some reason, mean “embarrassing”. This is somewhat less apologetic than duìbuqǐ.