Chinese Way of Giving a Compliment and Apology: 难为你了 (nánwéi nǐ le)

general Chinese Compliment and Apology

In English you might say “I know it’s hard for you…” to express a kind of apology and thankfulness for someone’s extra efforts in a task that is not related to their usual responsibilities, or that require extra effort on their part.
In Mandarin Chinese, we have a similar expression: 难为你了 (nánwéi nǐ le).
Perhaps you’ve been given the task of working extra hours, or fixing a photocopy machine when you aren’t familiar with its design. Your colleagues or managers may add “难为你了 (nánwéi nǐ le)” before they ask you to do something outside of your usual range or if they just wish to acknowledge that you went “above and beyond” your usual duties.
“难为你了 (nánwéi nǐ le)” is not trendy slang, it is a very common phrase used in daily life in China. If you add this to your Mandarin knowledge, it will show that you understand common, everyday Chinese.

An example of “难为你了 (nánwéi nǐ le)” in a sentence:

Bāng wǒ zuò le zhème duō jiāwù, nánwéi nǐ le!
帮     我   做 了   这么    多  家务,难为  你 了!
It was very kind of you to have done so much difficult housework for me.


    Wǒ zuótiān zhōngyú bǎ gōngzuò zuò wán le.
A: 我     昨天      终于     把    工作    做    完  了.
    I finally finished the work yesterday.

    Zhēn shì nánwéi nǐ le, nǐ dōu hǎo jǐ tiān méiyǒu hǎohǎo xiūxī le.
B: 真     是   难为  你 了! 你 都    好 几 天   没有      好好   休息 了。
    How hard for you! I know you haven’t had a good rest for days.

Sentence structure when using “难为你了 (nánwéi nǐ le)” can be changed flexibly according to the context:

We can use 她/他/someone’s name (Jack/Jennifer/her/him, etc) to replace of “你” in the phrase “难为你了.”
The structure is: “难为 + somebody +了.”


Tā tài jǐnzhāng le, zhè jiàn shì nánwéi tā le.
她 太   紧张   了,这  件  事   难为   她 了。
She’s extremely tense. This is very hard on her.

Zhēn shì nánwéi Jack le!
真     是   难为   Jack 了!
It’s really hard for Jack!

HSK 3 quiz

1. You can say “难为你了 (nánwéi nǐ le)” to someone in each of the following situations except:
A. your colleague covers all of your tasks on the day you are sick
B. the taxi driver makes it to the airport quickly so that you can catch your flight
C. someone compliments you on your Mandarin Chinese skills
D. you ask your friend to drive across the city to return the phone you forgot at their house

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