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How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation

realjules February 27, 2013, 9:11 pm
Hello. It seems to me, as a noob, that there is no clear distinction in the description of "he" or "her" when using "ta": eg. "Ta shi Yingguoren" could refer to either gender.

I see that the characters are different, and get that, but not the spoken word. Is it purely a question of context?

Thanks.
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation
Robert-C7 February 28, 2013, 6:25 pm
Yes, that is what I have observed. It is interesting that the character is different. Context is key.
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation
realjules February 28, 2013, 9:45 pm
Thanks, again!
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation
Alan-R-G June 15, 2013, 1:58 pm
There is no difference.
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation
Robert-C7 June 15, 2013, 7:20 pm
1. 他是中国人 (Tā shì zhōngguó rén)

2. 她是中国人 (Tā shì zhōngguó rén)

The first sentence translates to "He is Chinese.". The second sentence translates to "She is Chinese." The only difference is the Chinese character for he/she. They both sound identical.

3. 他们是中国人 (Tāmen shì zhōngguó rén)

4. 她们是中国人 (Tāmen shì zhōngguó rén)

Here, sentence 3 translates to "they are Chinese" and sentence 4 translates to "they are Chinese" but with the added distinction that they are all women.

So, like in English, context is key when dealing with homonyms.
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation
prudence-mwali January 1, 2015, 10:01 am
Its good to know, I kept wondering what the difference was!
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation
Virginia-M10 January 3, 2015, 3:42 am
My Chinese friends and coworkers, who are all incredibly fluent in English, each sometimes have trouble with "he" and "she" in English because there is no difference in spoken Mandarin. I just go with it and figure out what they mean by context- it's the least I can do since they humor my occasional attempts at Chinese!

Interestingly, my friend who speaks Tagalog also has the same issue with English.
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation
Jeanne--18 May 20, 2015, 3:32 am
When the Chinese talk about animals, such as a dog or cat or horse,
do they use tā for he or she? Can tā also be for it?
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation
Robert-C7 May 20, 2015, 2:36 pm
They use 它 (tā) to refer to animals (I think but am pretty
certain).
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation
Lin-Ping July 28, 2015, 7:36 am
大家好!

Yes, there is no difference between the pronunciations of 他,她 and 它. In spoken Chinese we must gauge the gender by the context which can cause confusion for us Chinese just as much for foreigners. Interestingly, although we can differentiate the genders in written Chinese, this wasn't always the case and it is a relatively recent addition to the language.

Good work everybody and 加油!

   -   Lin Ping
How to differentiate "ta" as he/her in conversation

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