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How to address others politely in Chinese

how to address people in Chinese, learning Chinese

Addressing people in Chinese is something that isn't really taught properly in textbooks.

用中文称呼他人并非是课本能够正确教好的。

 

Whether you're travelling in China or you're doing business in a Chinese speaking region, it's important to know how to address people in the correct way, to avoid any embarrassing mistakes and to make sure you are treating people with the correct respect.

无论你是在中国旅游还是在华语区做生意,懂得如何正确称呼他人是很重要的,可以避免尴尬的误解,确保你以恰当的敬意对待他人。

 

This post will outline the common forms of address for different people in Chinese.

本文将会概述中文里对不同人的常见称谓语。

 

Addressing Chinese people in formal situations

 

Let's take the surname 张 (zhāng) for these examples.

我们以"张"姓为例。

 

张先生 (zhāng xiānsheng) is Mr. Zhang. 张女士 (zhāng nǚshì) is Mrs/Ms. Zhang, and it can refer to either a married or unmarried woman.

"张先生"就是"Mr. Zhang","张女士"是"Mrs/Ms. Zhang",它可以指代已婚或未婚的女士。

 

How to find out somebody's title

 

One good way to find out the correct title to use to address somebody is to look at somebody's business card.

想要找到称呼某人的恰当头衔,有个好方法就是查看他的名片。

 

If you look on the Chinese part of the card, it will normally tell you the person's titles, and you can use those to address them. If you are not able to read the Chinese characters, then it is perfectly polite to ask the person the correct way to address them. You can say 您怎么称呼?(nín zěn me chēng hu?) How should I address you?

看了名片的中文部分,通常你就知道此人的头衔,你就可以用来称呼对方。要是你看不懂中文,那么,询问别人如何正确称呼他们也是完全有礼貌的。你可以说"您怎么称呼?"。

 

Forms of address in business

 

张总 (zhāng zǒng) – President Zhang

 

张主任 (zhāng zhǔrèn) – Director Zhang

 

张经理 (zhāng jīnglǐ) – Manager Zhang

 

张部长 (zhāng bùzhǎng) – Minister/Director Zhang

 

Addressing people in an academic situation

 

张老师 (zhāng lǎoshī) – Teacher Zhang

 

张教授 (zhāng jiàoshòu) – Professor Zhang

 

张博士 (zhāng bóshì) – Dr. Zhang

 

张大夫/医生 (zhāng dàifu / zhāng yīshēng) –Doctor Zhang

 

Informal forms of address for strangers

 

Chinese has special polite ways of addressing people who you don't know, for example somebody that you might start a conversation with on the street.

中文有一些称呼陌生人的特有的礼貌性方式,比如,你想与之对话的路人甲。

 

叔叔 shūshu (for an older man)

 

阿姨 āyí (for an older woman)

 

If you are meeting the parents of your girlfriend / boyfriend for the first time you should also call them shūshu and āyí.

要是你第一次见到女朋友或男朋友的父母,你也应该称呼他们"叔叔"和"阿姨"。

 

爷爷 yéye (for an elderly man)

 

奶奶 nǎinai (for an elderly woman)

 

哥哥 gēge (for an older boy)

 

姐姐 jiějie (for an older girl)

 

The special way to address taxi drivers/craftspeople

 

There is a special form of address in Chinese that you use for taxi drivers, craftspeople, builders, plumbers etc and also for kung fu masters.

对于司机、工匠、建筑工、管道工以及功夫大师,中文里有一个特定的称谓语。

 

For somebody with the surname 张 (zhāng), you would call them:

对于姓"张"的,你可以称呼他们:

 

张师傅 (zhāng shīfu) – Master Zhang

 

Addressing people in informal situations

 

If you are talking to somebody of a similar age to you who you are on close terms with, you can just call them their given name, without any of the forms of address.

与关系亲密的同龄人交谈,你就可以直呼其名,无需任何称谓语。

 

For example, if you have a friend called 王少华 (Wáng Shàohuá), then you could simply call them Shàohuá 少华.

例如,要是你有个朋友名叫"王少华",你可以就叫他"少华"。

 

Translated from: fluentinmandarin

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2016-06-21

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