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18 Apologizing 致歉


Hello everyone. 欢迎收看成长汉语. Thanks for tuning into today’s Growing up with Chinese. We’ve got a great show lined up for you today.

First though I have a question. Take a minute to think of all the ways we apologize in English. There is a lot isn’t there. I’m sorry, my fault, I apologize, excuse me, forgive me, my bad, the list goes on and on which implies that we apologize a lot in English don’t we. Well in China there are a couple ways to communicate an apology. However, there are nearly as many forms of I’m sorry as there are in English, interesting isn’t it. It’s not that Chinese speakers don’t feel remorse as much as English speakers, after all, we all are human beings.

Now I’ll leave it is food for thought for now because we need to get into today’s dialogue clip. Now unfortunately, 小明 has a lot of apologizing to do the day. Let’s check out just exactly what’s going on.

老师:怎么回事? 为什么迟到?

Oh, poor 小明, it really must just not be his day*1. He’s late, he knocks his classmate’s book off the table and then he realizes he forgot his books at home. But really as a result of his bad luck, we get to learn some phrases of apology among other things. Let’s take a look.

报告! 请进. 报告 is like saying “reporting!” All students in China will say this when they’re late to class and it’s up to the teacher to decide what to do after that. Now in this case, the teacher says “come in.”

对不起, 老师, 我们迟到了. Sorry we’re late teacher. 对不起. Sorry or I’m sorry, 迟到 means to be late, now broken apart, 迟 is late and 到 is to arrive. So together, they constitute the act of being late or late arrival. Now note the 了 at the end of the sentence. You need it here because the action being late has already occurred. 对不起, 老师, 我们迟到了.


真抱歉, 都怪我不小心, 把你的书碰掉了. I’m really sorry. It’s all my fault for not being careful and knocking your books off. 真抱歉. I’m really sorry. 都怪我不小心. It’s all my fault for not being careful. 都 is used here to imply totality or all. 怪 is to blame or fault. 不小心 means not careful. 把你的书碰掉了. 碰掉 is to bump into and then fall. In other words, knock off. 书碰掉了. The books got knocked off. And we have a pattern here. 把 something + verb, we’ll be going over that very thoroughly*2 and just a minute.

没关系, 没事儿. It doesn’t matter, it’s nothing. Now we’ve seen these guys use as a way to say you’re welcome following thank you. 谢谢你, 没关系. 谢谢, 没事儿. In today’s context, they’re used in a reply to an apology.

老师:怎么回事? 为什么迟到?

All right everybody, let’s take a look at today’s vocabulary.

So first we’ll look at our specific vocabulary words and then we’ll move onto today’s radical. Our first word is:

  • 迟到 to be late. chí dào
  • 以后 after, afterwards, later, in the future. yǐ hòu
  • 真 really. zhēn
  • 没关系 it doesn’t matter, it’s nothing, that’s all right, never mind. méi guān xi
  • 碰 touch, knock, bump. pèng
  • 座位 seat, place. zuò wèi


I can’t believe that we haven’t stumbled*3 upon any Chinese idioms until now. Although seeing as I am bringing it up, yes, we finally have the chance to talk about them.

Idioms are called 成语 in Chinese. And there are hundreds. The most of them are made up of four characters. So we’re not talking long phrases and sentences. However, lots have stories behind the idiom. And indeed, the saying makes a whole lot more sense once you know the story behind it. So today we have a 成语 to introduce to all of you. And it is 负荆请罪fù jīng qǐng zuì.

负 means to carry, 荆 is birch*4, 请罪 means to admit one’s error and ask for punishment. So the way this 成语 is translated is pull off a birch and ask for a flogging*5. Wow. In other words, it’s used to indicate a person who acknowledges his error to another and makes an apology. Now there’s a decent story behind this one. Shall I begin?

During the Warring States period, there were two states constantly at odds with*6 each other. The state of 赵 was relatively weak, but it had a minister named 蔺相如 who was very wise and bold*7. The state of 秦 was very powerful and the 秦 king was always finding ways to bully the 赵 king.

One time, 蔺相如, the wise 赵 minister, engaged*8 the 秦 king and in a heated battle of words and he came out the victor*9. That was preventing the state of 赵 from suffering any losses. The king of 赵 was so pleased, he promoted 蔺相如 to the highest ministerial post in the country.

The state of 赵 had another talented minister 廉颇, who happen to be a very successful retired general. He got quite bitter when he found out that 蔺相如 has been promoted. Because in his eyes, after all his victories and feats*10 as a general, he deserved the promotion more. And how can the ability to talk be more important and valued than the ability to protect one’s country.

So this guy was proud and he had lost some serious face. He made public his thoughts on the matter saying “if I ever run into*11 that 蔺相如, I’m gonna teach him a serious lesson.” And you know what*12, 蔺相如 avoided contact of 廉颇 at all costs.

Nobody could figure out why. And 蔺相如’s reputation suffered as a result. Everyone thought he was a coward, and weak. But 蔺相如 had his reasons.

Between the state of 秦 and the minister 廉颇, he feared 秦 the most. He reasoned that if he were to engage and discord*13 with 廉颇, 秦 would view the state of 赵 is weak not even the ministers can get along. And potentially invade the country. So rather than risk that, 蔺相如 avoided 廉颇.

Now, when 廉颇 heard about 蔺相如’s reasons for avoiding him, he was instantly ashamed. He had put his personal issues before his country’s. So in order to express his sincerest apology and regret for his actions, he took some birch branches and stripped off his shirt. He found 蔺相如, and kneeling before him ready to be whipped. He admitted his selfish error and asked for forgiveness.

Now of course, 蔺相如 instantly pulled him to his feet*14 and the two ministers became good friends after that.

So, 负荆请罪 is used to describe someone who is willing to acknowledge his or her mistake and then apologize for it.


All right everyone, now it’s time to move into today’s language points. And to begin with we will be talking about 真 really.

Just like really in English, 真 comes before an adjective or verb phrase to indicate extreme. Now we’ve talked about another similar word before 很 very. The difference between the two is slight. Both in English and Chinese. You can say 很抱歉 which is very sorry or like in today’s dialogue 真抱歉 really sorry. So 真 is more really, and 很 is more very. 很好 very good, 真好 really good.

  • 小明,这儿的景色美啊!/是啊,兰兰,你别动,我给你拍张照片。
  • 天气热啊! 兰兰,咱们一起去游泳吧。/小明,不好意思,我一会儿有钢琴课。

怪 to blame or fault. This is a pretty straightforward verb, just like in English. 我不怪你. I don’t blame you, I don’t find you at fault. You use 过 with 怪 for a past tense. 我没有怪过你. I’ve never blame to you, I never found you at fault. Today 小明 says, 都怪我不小心. It’s all my fault, for not being careful. Let’s look at some 怪 examples.

  • 对不起,都我不小心。/没关系。
  • 小明,你怎么才来啊,电影已经开始了。/对不起,兰兰。都我,我把时间记错了。

把 is used when the object is the receiver of the action of the ensuing*15 verb. That’s a long sentence, I know. Let’s look at an example. 我把书忘家里了. I forgot my books at home. OK, so the object is books, the verb or action is forgot. So the books are the receiver of the action forgotten. 我 把 书 忘 家里了. Let’s look at another example, a shorter one. 把门关上. Close the door. 把 + object 门 + action 关上. The door is receiving the action of closing.

  • 劳驾,您能那个球拍球拍递给我看看吗?/哪个球拍?/那个黑色的。
  • 小明,你考得怎么样?/不怎么样。我那道20分的大题写错了。

Well, good job everyone, I don’t know about you guys but my head is still reeling*16 ever so slightly from explaining 把 and how it’s used. Again, what we saw today we will be seeing many more times. So don’t get anxious just yet.

You can always visit our website to review. And please send in your questions and comments to our feedback page. Any question is a good question. And the same goes for comments. See you all next time, make sure to give yourselves a good break once I am done saying, 加油, 再见.



キングダム 19 (ヤングジャンプコミックス)

キングダム 19 (ヤングジャンプコミックス)

*1:one’s day (その人にとっての)よい日

*2:thoroughly 念入りに

*3:stumble 出くわす

*4:birch 樺の木の枝

*5:flog むち打つ

*6:at odds with 対立して

*7:bold 力強い

*8:engage 交戦する


*10:feat 功績

*11:run into 出くわす

*12:you know what なんとね

*13:discord 仲違いする

*14:pull someone to one’s feet 引っ張って立たせる

*15:ensue 後続する

*16:reel 頭がクラクラする