It is true that we have quite a few ways to express “you’re welcome” in English – “no problem”, “no worries”, “forget it”, “my pleasure”, “not at all”, to name a few. But how about Chinese? Here, I think, is the most exhaustive list you’ll find on the web:
- 不客气 bù kèqi (variants: 不用客气 bùyòng kèqi, 别客气 bié kèqi, 你太客气啦 nǐ tài kèqi la)
- 不用谢 bùyòngxiè (variants: 不谢 bùxiè)
- 没事 méishì (variants: 没事儿 méishìr)
- 小事 xiǎoshì (variants: 小事儿 xiǎoshìr)
- 小case xiǎo-case
- 小事一桩 xiǎoshìyīzhuāng
- 举手之劳 jǔshǒuzhīláo
- 应该的 yīnggāide (variants: 我应该做的 wǒ yīnggāi zuò de, 这是应该的 zhè shì yīnggāi de)
- 客气什么 kèqi shénme (variants: 客气啥 kèqi shá)
- 谢什么 xiè shénme (variants: 谢啥 xiè shá)
- 没问题 méi wèntí (variants: 米问题 mǐ wèntí, 冇問題 moumentei)
- 见外了 jiànwài le (variants: 您见外了 nín jiànwài le, 太见外了 tài jiànwài le)
- 乐意为你效劳 lèyì wèi nǐ xiàoláo (variants: 很愿意为您效劳 hěn yuànyì wèi nín xiàoláo)
- 我很乐意 wǒ hěn lèyì
- 没关系 méi guānxi*
不 客气 is the one everyone encounters when they first learn Mandarin, and indeed you could quite safely state it is the most commonly used. Literally, it means “don’t [be so] polite [to me]“.
小case seems to be a relatively new slang that is mostly used online. The “case” part is pronounced just like English “case”.
小 事一桩 and 举手之劳 are quite eloquent chengyu that I have heard in conversations in the past. They are very useful and I suppose they make you sound quite educated. The former indicates a “trifling matter”, whilst the latter indicates to the other person that to do something for them is easy for you and only needs a slight effort.
I have only added the variants for 没问题 out of interest’s sake. 米问题 is online slang used occasionally amongst the youth. As for 冇問題 moumentei, I have heard it used before in Mandarin despite it being from another dialect – Cantonese, as far as I am aware.
见 外 would have to be one of my favourite words. It is unfortunate that we lack such a term in English which politely urges the other person to act as if they are your friend. In English, the closest phrases that come to mind are “Don’t stand on ceremony” or “Don’t be a stranger.”
Notably, 乐意为你效劳 and 很愿意为您效劳 both translate as, “[we] are very willing to serve you”, usually expressed in English as, “at your service”. I’ve heard 我很乐意 – literally, “I am very willing” – from time to time.
* Technically 没关系 should only be uttered after 对不起 duìbuqǐ, however I’ve been told that even some Chinese don’t use it properly.
So what to make of all this? Well one thing does come to mind – in all the discussion that goes on about Japanese being a polite language, one forgets that though Chinese lacks politeness grammatical forms, similar lexical items nonetheless exist, sometimes plentifully so.