Duibuqi vs. Baoqian

Dui4buqi2 (对不起) is the Chinese word for “sorry.”  It can also be used to mean “excuse me,” for example if someone has to ask you to move aside on the bus or elevator when he or she wants to get off.  A westerner may find it strange for someone to be apologizing to him on such occasions.  It can also be use to interrupt someone while he or she is speaking, if necessary. Bao4 qian4 is a more direct way of apologizing and is not often used to excuse one’s self. You can practice Dui4buqi2 (对不起) here.

Here’s a lesson by Peggy in Taiwan.  She uses bu hao yisi, “I’m embarrassed,” to mean “excuse me” and duibuqi to mean “I’m sorry.”  The boy replies meiguanxi, meaning “it doesn’t matter” or “no sweat.”

Here’s a song.  Dui bu qi.  The Pinyin is here. Get someone to explain it to you in English.

And another one you might enjoy.  Beginning Chinese learners, I guess. Duibuqi. Wo shi Meiguoren. Wode Zhongwen buhao.  Meiguanxi.

4 thoughts on “Duibuqi vs. Baoqian

  1. Pingback: Hao Hao Report

    • “Bao” can refer to putting two hands together, usually one cupped in the other one so that the other one covers it. It is a sign of humility, especially when one bows a little when making it. That sign is also used to mean “please.” “Qian4″ means apology. Together they probably mean “please, accept my humble apology.” This is, of course, only a guess. We might assume that by saying “baoqian,” the speaker would consider his or her mistake to be more serious than simply interrupting someone, so that a simple “duibuqi” may not be adequate.

      However, please, know that I am not a native speaker of Chinese, and there may be other interpretations. No one has ever explained it to me before. I am inferring this explanation from experience and a dictionary. Therefore, I humbly and modestly offer my guess as a possible explanation.

      Anyway, here is a song with “baoqian” in it, when the girl says that she is sorry (baoqian) that she can’t explain her feeling.


  2. Baoqian

    a chinese lady told me…
    if someone is busy doing something and you want to get their attention, you use this word.. its a ‘excuse me for disturbing you’

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