When you’re starting out with English, you might struggle with pronouns and knowing when to use which one. Pronouns in Chinese are much simpler. We have gone over basic pronouns and this will be about pronouns dealing with multiple people. And for this, you only need to add one word to change the form of pronoun from singular to multiple.
How does that work?
These in English are we, us, they, them, and you guys. “We” and “us” come from “me”, “you guys” comes from “you”, and “they/them” comes from “him/her”.
The Chinese word for “me” is 我, “you” is 你 (nǐ), “him/her” is 他/她 (tā) . To change all of these to plural form you only need to 们 (men). When added to a word, this means a plural of people, so you automatically know there are multiple of people being mentioned with this word.
English on the other hand requires us to memorize different word forms, not very intuitive. That’s Chinese speakers trying to speak English often mess up their pronouns. Pronouns in Chinese are more straightforward. They struggle to see how “we” is related to “me” and I can’t blame them. It only makes sense because teachers say it means what it means.
We end up getting 我们 (wǒ men), 你们 (nǐ mén), and 他们 (tā mén) for our pronouns dealing with multiple people, and they mean we/us, you guys, and they/them respectively.
How do you distinguish “we” from “us”, and “them” from “they”?
Ah great question, and simple answer: you don’t. 我们 (wǒ men) can mean both “we” and “us”, and 他们 (tā men) can mean “them” or “they”. Doesn’t that make it confusing? Not really. For example: 我们去了(wǒ men qù le) means “we are going to go” and 跟我们 (gēn wǒ men) means “follow us”. You can adapt 我们 (wǒ men) to be either or. In ways this is less confusing because you don’t have to decide whether to use “we” or “us”.
Makes you wish you learned Chinese
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