Diaries Magazine

Chinese Words and Phrases I "你" & "您"

By Kei Lam (thetravelphilosophy.blogspot.hk)
In Chinese, the word "you" is represented by the character "你"; this is the same for Cantonese and Mandarin. Interestingly, there is another way to address people other than "你" - a more polite way.

Sometimes we would hear people use "您" instead of "你" in Mandarin (perhaps in written Chinese for a Cantonese speaker too). You may recognize the upper part of "您" is no different than "你"; the lower part "心" means "heart". Addressing others as "您" is to express your true feelings and respect from your heart for that particular person.

Now, let's see the different pronunciations of "你" & "您":

"你" (nǐ)

"您" (nǐn)

So when should we use "您" rather than "你"? As we have mentioned above, it is a more polite way to address others. It would be appropriate to use in occasions such as a receptionist talking to a guest. For traditional Chinese families, younger generations may also use "您" to address their elder relatives.

Next time when you hear or read "您" instead of "你", then you would know who is being extra nice to you!

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