How to use 没关系 (mei2 guānxi) in Chinese: it doesn't matter, not related to

The Chinese phrase 没关系 (méi guānxi) literally means “it has no relation”. It’s very commonly used to express “it doesn’t matter” or “it’s not important”, and you’re likely to hear it every day in China.

The other, slightly less common use of 没关系 is to express that something is not related to something else. These slightly different meanings have different usage patterns.

Note that the 系 (xi) in 没关系 is neutral tone, despite it being fourth tone in other words like 系统 xìtǒng (‘system’).

没关系: it doesn’t matter

This is the most common use of 没关系, and it’s very similar to “it doesn’t matter” or “never mind” in English. The phrase can be used directly on its own, for example in this exchange:

*A:* 我来晚了,真对不起。

Wǒ lái wǎnle, zhēn duìbùqǐ.

I'm so sorry I'm late.
*B:* 没关系。

Méi guānxi.

It doesn't matter.

The phrase might also be used in situations like these:

没关系。大家都是这样。

Méiguānxì. Dàjiā dōu shì zhèyàng.

It doesn't matter. Everyone does it.

我用铅笔写没关系吧?

Wǒ yòng qiānbǐ xiě méiguānxì ba?

It doesn't matter if I use a pencil, right?

没关系 can also form part of a longer sentence, and is usually placed at the end, following the options or alternatives that don’t matter. Some examples:

多少钱都没关系。

Duōshǎo qián dōu méi guānxi.

It doesn't matter how much it costs. (Probably best if you don't say this one too much.)

多长时间都没关系。

Duō cháng shíjiān dōu méi guānxi.

It doesn't matter how long it takes.

他们知不知道都没关系。

Tāmen zhī bù zhīdào dōu méi guānxi.

It doesn't matter if they know or not.

别人怎么看都没关系。

Biérén zěnme kàn dōu méi guānxi.

It doesn't matter what other people think.

The main point to note is that 没关系 nearly always comes at the end of such a sentence. First you establish what the issue or options are (the topic), and then comment on them with 没关系.

没关系 can also form part of a structure expressing that there is no relation or link between two things. This is a more literal use of 没关系. The structure is:

[something] 跟 [something else] 没有关系

As usual, you can replace 跟 (gēn) with similar conjunctions like 和 (hé) and 与 (yǔ). Also, the 有 in this structure is optional: you can say 没有 or just 没.

Have a look at some example sentences for this usage of 没关系:

我跟他完全没有关系。

Wǒ gēn tā wánquán méiyǒu guānxì.

I'm totally unrelated to him.

这事跟我一点也没关系。

Zhè shì gēn wǒ yīdiǎn yě méiguānxì.

This issue has nothing to do with me.

我的私事和你没有关系!

Wǒ de sīshì hé nǐ méiyǒu guānxì!

My personal matters are none of your business!

As you can see, the two uses of 没关系 are similar but not entirely the same. The first one, “it doesn’t matter”, is quite idiomatic, whilst the second is directly “it is not related”.

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