Pronouns in Mandarin Chinese

Updated:Sun, Oct 21, 2012 00:50 AM     Related:Pronouns

Pronouns in modern Mandarin Chinese are known as 代词dàicí. There are fewer pronouns in Chinese compared to English. In Chinese Mandarin, possessive pronouns are indicated by adding 的de to the end of the pronoun.


Pronouns in modern Mandarin Chinese are known as “代词dàicí”. There are fewer pronouns in Chinese compared to English. Chinese pronouns are grouped in three basic sets - “I and Me”; “You”;and "He, She, Him, Her, It".

A subject-verb requirement is not necessary in Chinese. Mandarin pronouns remain the same whether they are the subject or the object. This is different from the English language, where pronouns do change. For example, "I" changes to "me", "he" changes to "him" and "she" changes to "her".

In Mandarin Chinese, "我Wo3" represents the first person pronoun and it remains "Wo" for both "I" and "Me".

"你Ni3" is used for the informal "You" and "您Nin2" is used for the formal "You". "Ni" is used to address a contemporary, equal or someone younger. "Nin" is used to address someone older or an authority figure. "Ni" and "Nin" remain the same whether "You" is singular, plural, masculine or feminine.

The pronouns "He", She", "Him", "Her", and "It" are represented by the word "他/她/它Ta1". For all these, "Ta" is pronunced in exactly the same way. The difference was formerly discerned only by the context of the sentence. Now, since the influence of Western grammar, particularly the Western gender separted pronouns, seeped into Chinese, the different forms of "Ta" are represented by different written characters.

Chinese Mandarin Plural Pronouns:

Chinese plural pronouns are simpler than the English ones too. To signify a plural pronoun, "们Men2" is added after the pronoun and that's it.

So if you want to write or say "Us" and "We", you write or say "我们 Wo men".

For "You and I", you write or say "咱们Za men" (usually used in oral Chinese).

To indicate the plural of "You", you write or say "你们Ni men" or "您们Nin men".

"They and "Them" are written as "他们/她们/它们ta men"

Possessive Pronouns:

In Chinese Mandarin, possessive pronouns are indicated by adding "的de" to the end of the pronoun.

So "My or "Mine" would be written and spoken as "我的Wo de". For example, "My younger sister" is written and spoken as "我的妹妹Wo de mei mei". However, in daily, colloquial speech, the "de" is often dropped. "So "My mother" may often become "我妈Wo Ma" and my grandmother "我奶奶Wo Nai Nai" instead of the more correct "我的妈Wo de Ma" and "我的奶奶Wo de Nai Nai". The term "本人Ben ren" is used to say "one self".

"Your" is written and spoken as "你的Ni de" or "您的Nin de". The term "令Ling4" may be used instead of "您的Nin de". "贵Gui4" is also used for"You" and "Your", but usually in the formal, written language.

"His" and "Her" may be indicated by "其Qi3". This is used more in the written Chinese language than in the spoken one.

Chinese pronouns summarized in below table:

English Pronouns Chinese Pronouns
Pronouns dài cí  - 代词
I wǒ  -
you nǐ  -
he tā;tuó  -
she tā  -
we wǒ men  - 我们
they tā men  - 他们
me wǒ  -
you nǐ  -
him tā;tuó  -
her tā  -
us wǒ men  - 我们
them tā men  - 他们
my wǒ de  - 我的
your nín de;dì;dí  - 您的
his tā de  - 他的
her tā de  - 她的
our wǒ men de  - 我们的
their tā men de  - 他们的
mine wǒ de  - 我的
yours nǐ de  - 你的
his tā de  - 他的
hers tā de  - 她的
ours wǒ men de  - 我们的
theirs tā men de  - 他们的
I speak wǒ shuō;shuì  - 我说
you speak nǐ shuō;shuì  - 你说
he speaks tā;tuó shuō;shuì  - 他说
she speaks tā shuō;shuì  - 她说
we speak wǒ men shuō;shuì  - 我们说
they speak tā mén shuō  - 他们说
give me gěi wǒ  - 给我
gěi nǐ  - 给你
give him gěi tā;tuó  - 给他
give her gěi tā  - 给她
give us gěi  wǒ men  - 给我们
give them gěi  tā men  - 给他们
my book wǒ de shū  - 我的书
your book nǐ de shū  - 你的书
his book tā de shū  - 他的书
her book tā de shū  - 她的书
our book wǒ men de shū  - 我们的书
their book tā men de shū  - 他们的书




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