When Things Go Your Way, Exclaim “Xiè Tiān Xiè Dì!”

Chinese General xietianxiedi

As a Mandarin Chinese teacher, I’ve noticed that many of my foreign students use Chinese in conversation as much as possible, but by instinct they will usually use English or other non-Chinese expressions such as “oh my god!”, “just a minute” or “thank goodness!” when they suddenly need them to express their feelings. It’s instinct, but I’ve tried to change it!
Therefore, one of the first common, daily expressions that I teach is: “谢天谢地! (Xiè tiān xiè dì)”
“谢天谢地! (Xiè tiān xiè dì)” can be used in the same way my students would use “thank God!”, “thank goodness!” and “thank heavens!”. Just as these expressions are used heavily in daily language in English-speaking countries, “谢天谢地! (Xiè tiān xiè dì)” can be used very frequently in Chinese for situations in which you avoided something bad happening, feel relief, know that a problem has been solved or are suddenly getting lucky or fortunate: 谢天谢地! (Xiè tiān xiè dì).
It’s not just my students who are now using “谢天谢地! (Xiè tiān xiè dì)” on a daily basis. Just this morning I couldn’t find my keys to lock up my room. Panicking and almost late for class, I tore my room apart. I thought to open the door and there they were, hanging on the doorknob from last night: 谢天谢地! (Xiè tiān xiè dì).

Language points:

谢 (xiè): thank; decline.

天 (tiān): day; God; Heaven.

地 (dì): earth; ground; region.

Situations when you can use “谢天谢地! (Xiè tiān xiè dì)” include:

Xiètiānxièdì nǐ zhōngyú huílái le!
谢天谢地    你    终于     回来 了!
Thank goodness, you’re back at last!

Xiètiānxièdì, méiyǒu rén shòushāng.
谢天谢地,  没有     人       受伤。
Thank God nobody was hurt.

Xiètiānxièdì, wǒ chénggōng le.
谢天谢地,  我   成功      了。
Thank God, I did it.

HSK 3 quiz

You can use the expression “谢天谢地! (Xiè tiān xiè dì) in the following situations:
A. You forgot to take your umbrella with you when it rained yesterday
B. You are preparing for a job interview
C. Something terrible happened
D. You fell down the stairs but didn’t get hurt

―Written by Becky Zhang―

Becky Zhang is a teacher at eChineseLearning.com. She has over eight years of experience teaching Mandarin Chinese to foreign students and promoting Chinese culture. She lives in Beijing but loves traveling to ancient Chinese villages. One day she’d like to be a tour guide in China!

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