Chinese Pronouns

Imagine if every time you wanted to refer to an object you had to give it's full name...

"Maria's new Aston Martin DB5 is wonderful. The Aston Martin DB5 handles like an dream, and the Aston Martin DB5 can hit 60mph in just 3 seconds. Maria loves the Aston Martin DB5."

See how clumsy and long that is?

Well, that's where pronouns come in.

With pronouns you only need to use the object's actual name once; and subject's not at all! From then on you can use pronouns like I, my, and it instead...

"My new Aston Martin DB5 is wonderful. It handles like a dream, and it can hit 60mph in just 3 seconds. I love it."

Much better.

Pronouns are words that are used in place of a noun. They can be the subject, the object, or complement. In Chinese, there are different kinds of pronouns.

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns substitute for the noun without repeating it. They can be divided into:

  • personal subject pronouns, which are used in place of the subject
  • personal direct pronouns, used in place of the object personal
  • indirect pronouns, used in place of the complement
  • reflexive pronouns, in connection with the reflexive verbs.

Possessive Pronouns

Possessive pronouns, that indicate the possession; they have the same form of the adjective possessive:

那个房子是我的 Nàge fángzi shì wǒde。- The house is mine.

Download
我的
Wǒde
My / Mine
Download
你的
Nǐde
Yours
Download
他的
Tāde
His
Download
她的
Tāde
Hers
Download
我们的
Wǒmen de
Ours
Download
你们的
Nǐmen de
Yours
Download
他们的
Tāmen de
Theirs
Download
那个房子是我的
Nàge fángzi shì wǒde
The house is mine.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns show the position in the space and in the time.

那个房子是我的 Nàge fángzi shì wǒde。 - That house is mine.

Download
这个
Zhège
This
Download
那个
nàgè
That
Download
这些
zhèxiē
These
Download
那些
nàxiē
Those

Indefinite Pronouns

Indefinite pronouns, that don't specify the identity of the person or of the object. 

有人打过电话 Yǒurén dǎguò diànhuà。- Someone called.

Download
某个
Mǒu gè
One / Some
Download
有个
yǒu gè
there is a
Download
有人打过电话
Yǒurén dǎguò diànhuà
Someone called

Interrogative Pronouns

Interrogative pronouns, that introduce questions:
Download
shuí
who
Download
什么-
shénme
what
Download
哪个
nǎge
which
Download
什么时候
shénme shíhòu
when
Download
为什么
wèishénme
why
Download
怎么
zěnme
how
Download
哪儿
nǎ’er
where
Download
多少钱
duōshǎoqián
how much
Download
他是谁
Tā shì shuí ?
Who is he?

Personal Subject Pronouns:

In Chinese there are 10 personal subject pronouns: 5 for the singular, 5 for the plural.

Forms:

Download
I
Download
you
Download
he
Download
she
Download
it
Download
我们
wǒmen
we
Download
你们
nǐmen
you
Download
他们
tāmen
they (referring to males)
Download
她们
tāmen
they (referring females)
Download
它们
tāmen
they (referring to objects)

For example:

Download
我是林萍。
Wǒ shì Lín Píng。
I am Lin Ping.
Download
你是谁?
Nǐ shì shuí?
Who are you?
Download
他是我的朋友。
Tā shì wǒde péngyou。
He is my friend.
Download
她很漂亮。
Tā hěn piàoliàng。
She is pretty.
Download
我们是中国人。
Wǒmen shì Zhōngguórén。
We are Chinese.
Download
你们也来吗?
Nǐmen yě lái ma?
Do you come too?
Download
他们喜欢旅行。
Tāmen xǐhuān lǚxíng。
They love traveling.

Direct Object Pronouns

In English, there are direct object pronouns, pronouns that directly receive the action of the verb. They answer the question what, or whom, like “me” “him” or “her”. In Chinese, direct object pronouns are the same words as subject pronouns. That is to say, “I” is “我” in Chinese, and “me” is also “我”. It is also the same case with words like “he/him” and “she/her” and “they/them”.

Download
林萍看见他了。
Línpíng kànjiàn tā le。
Lin Ping saw him.
Download
他看见林萍了。
Tā kànjiàn Lín Píng le。
He saw Lin Ping.

Reflexive pronoun

Reflexive pronouns are used in connection with reflexive verbs, in which the action reflects itself on the subject. When we want to express meanings like that, we put reflexive pronoun自己 zìjǐ after the pronouns we have covered today.

Download
我自己
wǒ zìjǐ
myself
Download
你自己
nǐ zìjǐ
yourself
Download
他自己
tā zìjǐ
himself
Download
她自己
tā zìjǐ
herself
Download
它自己
tā zìjǐ
itself
Download
我们自己
wǒmen zìjǐ
ourselves
Download
你们自己
nǐmen zìjǐ
yourselves
Download
他们自己
tāmen zìjǐ
themselves (referring to males)
Download
她们自己
tāmen zìjǐ
themselves (referring females)
Download
它们自己
tāmen zìjǐ
themselves (referring to objects)

Formal 您 nín and Informal 你 nǐ

In Chinese, there are two pronouns to refer to “you”, depending on the situation. If it is a formal occasion, people tend to use formal pronoun 您 nín, 您们 nínmen, whereas on ordinary occasions or in daily communication, their informal equivalents 你nǐ and 你们 nǐmen are used.

Download
您好吗,林小姐?
Nín hǎoma, Lín Xiǎojiě?
How are you, Miss Lin?
Download
你好,林小姐。
Nǐhǎo, Lín Xiǎojiě。
Hello, Miss Lin.

Chinese pronouns summary

  • Personal pronouns substitute without repeating the common or proper nouns. They can be divided in personal subject pronouns, personal direct pronouns, personal indirect pronouns and reflexive pronoun
  • Possessive pronouns indicate possession
  • Demonstrative pronouns show position in space and time
  • Indefinite pronouns, are used when we don't need to specify the identity of the person or object
  • Relative pronouns relate more propositions
  • Interrogative pronouns introduce questions
  • Direct and indirect pronouns have two forms, according to the position they have in the sentence
  • Reflexive pronouns are always used in connection with a reflexive verb
  • Formal and informal is not a matter of tradition in Chinese, but an important form of respect. Never say你nǐ, you, to your boss or an older genlteman!
That's it for this lesson.
Huí tóu jiàn! (回头见)

Signature
Lin Ping
Rocket Chinese

Testing!

Test yourself with the Rocket Chinese testing tools! Improve your knowledge of Chinese and earn points for your badges along the way!

Note that the tests below are listed from easiest to hardest. Also, when a test is successfully rated the rating icon will at the top right of this page will show that rating.

comments powered by Disqus

Over 1,200,000 people love Rocket Languages

Here's what Rocket Languages members have to say:

Andrei
Freeman

Pennsylvania, USA

Rudi
Kopp

USA

Carmen
Franceschino

Pennsylvania, USA

Kelly
Scali

Chicago, USA

Mark
Waddel

Auckland, NZ

William
McGill

Florida, USA

Probably the best language tool I've come across. Actually love it more than Rosetta Stone and Duolingo

Try our award-winning Chinese language software for FREE

(And see how easy it actually is to learn Chinese... even if you've tried and failed before)