How to Make a Complaint in Chinese | HSK 2-HSK 3

Navigating cultural sensitivities and linguistic limitations is crucial when filing a complaint in a different language. This is particularly crucial for Chinese people because of the culture’s emphasis on social harmony and face-saving. This essay will instruct you on how to politely complain in Mandarin, emphasizing both linguistic and cultural issues.

Choose the Right Tone and Manner

It’s important to remember the cultural significance of maintaining respect and face-saving before getting into precise terms. It would help if you spoke in a cordial and non-confrontational manner. Approach the situation with a desire to find a solution rather than becoming hostile.

Start with a Softener

Open your complaint with a phrase that shows understanding or politeness.

  • 不好意思 (Bù hǎo yì sī) – “Excuse me” or “I’m sorry to bother you”
  • 请问 (Qǐng wèn) – “May I ask…”

State the Problem

Clearly describe the issue you’re facing. Some helpful phrases include:

  • 这个有点问题 (Zhè ge yǒu diǎn wèn tí) – “There’s a little problem with this.”
  • 我发现… (Wǒ fā xiàn…) – “I found that…”
  • 这个不是我订的 (Zhè ge bù shì wǒ dìng de) – “This isn’t what I ordered.”

Offer a Desired Solution

Be proactive by suggesting a potential solution, ensuring you are reasonable in your request.

  • 你们可以帮我解决吗?(Nǐ men kě yǐ bāng wǒ jiě jué ma?) – “Can you help me solve this?”
  • 我希望… (wǒ xī wàng…) – “I hope that…”
  • 可以换一个吗?(Kě yǐ huàn yī ge ma?) – “Can I get a replacement?”

Use Thankful Expressions

Even while complaining, it’s polite to sprinkle your conversation with thankful words:

  • 谢谢 (Xiè xiè) – “Thank you”
  • 非常感谢 (Fēi cháng gǎn xiè) – “Thank you very much”

If Things Escalate, Stay Calm

While it’s hoped that the situation can be resolved amicably, if things escalate, maintain your composure and reiterate your concerns without raising your voice.

  • 我只是想解决这个问题 (Wǒ zhǐ shì xiǎng jiě jué zhè ge wèn tí) – “I just want to solve this problem.”

Recognize Cultural Differences

Remember that different countries may have other ideas about good customer service. In China, the individual you complain to may feel embarrassed if you engage in direct conflict or make a loud public complaint. Being patient and understanding is crucial, and it’s important to remember that different approaches don’t always signify carelessness or disregard.


Language proficiency and cultural awareness must be balanced when making a complaint in Chinese. Always address the situation with kindness, patience, and a sincere desire to find a solution. You may effectively express your problems and get an acceptable settlement with the correct mindset and language.


How should I offer a solution in my complaint?

  • Proactively suggesting a potential solution is helpful. Phrases like “你们可以帮我解决吗?” (nǐ men kě yǐ bāng wǒ jiě jué ma?) which translates to “Can you help me solve this?” indicate your desire to resolve the issue collaboratively.

Why is it recommended to use thankful expressions while complaining?

  • Thankful expressions convey respect and appreciation. Using them can create a more positive atmosphere, even when discussing a problem.

What should I do if the situation escalates?

  • It’s crucial to remain calm. Rather than getting louder or more aggressive, reiterate your concerns and continue using respectful language.

Are there cultural differences in customer service I should be aware of?

  • Yes, the concept of customer service can vary between countries. In China, direct confrontations or loud complaints can be viewed negatively and cause embarrassment. Being patient, understanding, and aware of these cultural nuances is essential.

What is the main takeaway from making a complaint in Chinese?

  • The key is balancing linguistic competence with cultural sensitivity. Using the right phrases and demonstrating a genuine desire for resolution while being respectful is essential.

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