Personal pronouns are the words that we use to substitute proper or common nouns. Such as I, you, she, he, his, her etc.
I strongly suggest you to get familiar with all personal pronouns in Chinese language before you dive deeper into mandarin Chinese lessons. First of all, personal pronouns will frequently appear in our dialog examples and reading practice in later lessons. Secondly, it’s must-to-have knowledge even for very basic conversations. Last, personal pronouns in Chinese language are very easy to grasp. Even simpler than those in English in my opinion.
You know what confuses Chinese students most when they start to learn English? – “Why there are so many variations in the usage of personal pronouns?!” To a Chinese student, “I” is “I”, no matter which position it appears in a sentence, it should stay as “I”! So now you understand there’s no change of forms for I, or you, or he, or she in a Chinese sentence at all. In fact, you only need to know 7 characters to be able to use ANY personal pronouns in Chinese language. They are:
“我”needs 7 strokes to write it out. It’s not a very simple Chinese character, but is definitely among the highest frequency characters. Get a pen and paper now, and write the character on the paper for five times. You might not be able to remember how to write it tomorrow, but you have to be able to recognize it from now on (at least that’s my requirement for you to follow through the whole lesson series).
你, 他, 们, the three of them all have radical “亻” on their left hand side. “亻” implies “people related”. That doesn’t mean all people related characters have a “亻”. But there are a large amount of people related characters do. The right hand side part usually implies how the character sound. But not always either. We can give a name for this pattern so it’s easier for you to remember:
“meaning radical + sound part”
Among these three characters, only “们” perfectly fit into the “meaning radical + sound part” pattern:
“亻” (people related) + “门” [mén] (meaning: door)
As a matter of fact, there are big amount of Chinese characters follow the above rule. You will see more of them coming in the following lessons.
Now let’s get familiar with all the personal pronouns in Chinese language from the following tables:
Plurality: who + 们
Possessive for singularity: who + 的
Possessive for Plurality: who + 们的
You might have noticed that “他” “她” and “它” all have exactly the same pronunciation. In Chinese, a few to a few tens of characters share the same pronunciation is quite common. That’s why in most cases you can’t tell Chinese people a single character and expect them to understand which character you’re referring to. You have to put the character in a word, or a sentence to make people understand exactly which character you’re talking about.
Please memorize the pronunciation and the look of all words. You’ll meet them frequently in the following lessons.
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