Conversation Connectors: 我不得不说, 我告诉你,我跟你说

 
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“Conversation Connectors” are very useful in Chinese when you are looking for something to say and need to give yourself time to think it through. Today we’ll talk about:

  • 我告诉你
    • wǒ gàosu nǐ

    • ...I'm telling you

  • 我跟你说
    • wǒ gēn nǐ shuō…
    • I'm telling you…
  • 我不得不说
    • wǒ bùdébú shuō

    • I must say that…

我告诉你 wǒ gàosu nǐ:Literally “I tell you”, or accurately translated as “I’m telling you”. This one is really useful when you know you want to tell someone your opinion but you are fishing for the words to say. You can also throw it in at the end of a sentence to emphasize what you just said, kind of like “It was really dangerous, 我告诉你!” They clearly don't believe you that your fight with the house cat was dangerous, so you gotta really tell them!

我跟你说 wǒ gēn nǐ shuō:This has the same function as 我告诉你 when used at the beginning. 跟 in Chinese can mean “with” (it can also mean “heel”, but it doesn’t when it is combining two nouns like “you" and “me”), so this translates literally as “I with you speak…”, but just like 我告诉你 accurately translates to “I’m telling you…”.

我不得不说 wǒ bùdébù shuō:“不得不” is a very useful little phrase, because it essentially just means “have to”. The literal translation is accurate, “I must say…”. So, when you are ready to complement your boss’s elegant and graceful demeanor in all aspects of life (you know, to get that promotion you've been wanting), be sure he/she knows that you have to (不得不) say it ;).