How to express disagreement in a comfortable way in Chinese ?

Posted by Grace Feng on May 26, 2012

How to express disagreement in a comfortable way in Chinese ?Chinese tradition emphasizes a lot on using “polite language ” to communicate with people. The politeness evolved from Confucis to today’s modern life. The standard has changed a lot. In modern China, many of the old fashioned ways of politeness has become obsoleted. For example, in old China, you usually do not directly call yourself “我 wǒ“. Depends on what kind of social role you are and who the person you are talking to, you need to use other words to replace “我 wǒ“. Otherwise, it’s deemed rude, and not educated.

For example, when a wife was talking to her husband, she had to use “妾 qiè” instead of “我 wǒ“. A person works for the emperor should call himself “臣 chén” when talking to the emperor or people ranking above him.

In nowadays, no matter who you are, calling yourself 我 wǒ is nothing than normal. However, there are still a lot of polite ways you need to learn when you communicate in Chinese. Knowing the native way of expressing disagreement, for example, is important in helping you with your social life or business that involves Chinese.

When you disagree with other people’s opinion, under certain circumstances it is not very pretty by just blurting out your big “NO” straightforward. There are some other ways to handle it more smoothly.

Instead of saying “NO” and go ahead elaborating your strong objection, would it be more acceptable is you can start with a question first? A question that makes people to give a second thought on their opinion might be more acceptable than an up front objection.

Let’s try this in Chinese :

rúguǒ zhèyàng zuò, huìbùhuì…

如果这样做, 会不会… ?

If we do this, whether …?

[mp3j track=”disagreement-e01.mp3″]


Another way we can try is to agree with the positive side of the opinion first and then point out the issue we’ll possibly have if we move forward with that….


nǐ shuō de shì méicuò, dàn rúguǒ wǒmen zhèyàng zuò, bùhuì … ma?

你说的是没错, 但如果我们这样做, 不会 … 吗?

What you’ve proposed is good, but if we go down that path, is it a possibility that …. will happen?
[mp3j track=”disagreement-e02.mp3″]


Also you can bring out your own opinion as another option for discussion first without explicitly expressing your objection first.


néng shuōshuo wǒ de kànfǎ ma? wǒmen shìbùshì kěyǐ shì shì zhèyàng …?

能说说我的看法吗? 我们是不是可以试试这样 …?

May I show my idea? Could we give it a try to do it this way …?

[mp3j track=”disagreement-e03.mp3″]


I’d like to know if there’s any other way that you know would be used as a polite also smart way to show your disagreement. Welcome to share!



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