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Do you mind if... ?

Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by baosheng, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada, English

    In English, I use the question structure "Do you mind if... " fairly often, especially to be polite in certain situations. Yet when I translate it into Chinese, I always have trouble... (perhaps it is not good to be too 客气 because it looks like 见外, right, but I still have this habit from English, even with people I know fairly well)

    The odd thing is is that I can't remember having ever heard this in Chinese before. Well it is not odd at all really, but it leads me to believe that perhaps it is not as commonly used as it is in English? Would it be safe to say that this is a more "Western expression" and that Chinese people use other expressions more often to show politeness?

    I remember asking a friend how to say "Do you mind if I open the window?" once, and they said that they wouldn't say that in Chinese. (although it was probably situational, so perhaps not the best example!)

    Despite this perhaps being "foreigner-speak" :D and uncommon, how would you normally say this (in not necessarily the same words) in Chinese? I find myself saying "什么什么的 。。。 你介意吗" often (to a friend, for ex.), and that it perhaps comes off as being overly polite/odd? (would you think so?)

    Alternatively, I sometimes say "______ , 你不介意吧", as I heard this on TV once (only in the negative form), but I find it sounds more abrupt and ... well, perhaps not as polite as "Do you mind if.. " since this one means "___ , you don't mind, right" (and you are not giving the other person a choice).

    Would you use/suggest the use of any of the above expressions/or any others to politely ask a question in Chinese?

    Thanks in advance/谢谢!
  2. Lucia_zwl

    Lucia_zwl Senior Member

    Hi Baosheng, I’ll take your question as “how to ask for permission politely in Chinese”, as “as a question”...I think it means you can ask for everything, information or whatever:D.
    Yes, I think so, but the general rules are similar: you can either give choice to others or lower your own position.

    If you want to ask others to do something, you can say: 能麻烦你。。。吗?
    e.g. you’re carrying many stuffs and want someone to open the door for you, you can say, 能麻烦你帮我开一下门吗?
    If you want to do something by yourself and ask for permission, you can say, (请问)我能。。。吗?e.g. 请问我能用一下你的书吗?and 我能试一下这件衣服吗?
    Using “一下” after the verb can also weaken your question and make it sound more polite.

    Grammatically, “do you mind if…”=“你介意。。。吗”, but we don’t often say like this.
    “。。。你不介意吧”, as you said, sounds like you’re not giving the other person a choice, so you’re just pretend to be polite. But it can be joking or sarcastic.
  3. tarlou Senior Member

    I believe "...你介意吗" is only a translation learned by many Chinese people in their English classes. People who never learned English will hardly say it.

    Besides the sentences provided by Lucia, there are other polite ways but they really depend on the context.
    Do you mind if I open the window? ==> 要不我把窗户开开吧?
    Do you mind if I sit here? ==> 请问这儿有人吗? (Is this seat occupied by someone else?)
    Do you mind if I use your computer? ==> 请问能把电脑借我用用吗?
  4. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Thank you both for your help! :)

    Ah, my apologies for the confusing question. You are right!

    That is interesting! It looks like it is more of an English structure than a Chinese one.

    Could one also translate it as: "我把窗户打开,好吗"/ "_______,好吗"? Would this be like "I am opening the window, it that OK?/Do you mind if I open the window?" or is it more like "I am opening the window, OK?" (perhaps the speaker is annoyed.. or at least, that's what I associate with the English here). ... Or would this more be like what a teacher/parent would say to a child? (I have this association from watching movies, etc. .. and the child/whole classroom replies "好!") Is this an expression which adults would ever use among each other?
    (I am likely wrong on many of these assumptions/associations!)
  5. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    They certainly would. I see no problems here. The expression is not impolite, but is informal and you would typically use it among people you're already fairly familiar with.

    Although the translation is fine but I think one does not simply use 要不 to ask for permission without some specific context. You use 要不 when you're suggesting an alternative, which is not explicit in the above example:

    "(It's too stuffy in here,) shall I open the window? "
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2013

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