What do the two words below have in common? The answer is on its way. 😀
1. 他 2.她
We all know that in English, we have gender-specific personal pronouns, i.e. he or she; however, in Chinese, it wasn’t until the 1920s (and due to western influence) that Chinese people started using 他 and 她 to indicate gender differences in their speech and writing. So, gender-specific pronouns were developed quite late in Chinese language history!
Although there are different characters used for he (他) and she (她), these two characters share the EXACT same pronunciation. So, how do you know which gender identity has been referred to in speech?
In writing, it won’t be a problem because as long as you spot the building block 女 (woman) in 她 (she), then you’ll know the gender identity here has something to do with ‘woman’ or ‘female’. So, the building block 女 is very handy to distinguish ‘she’ from ‘he’ in Chinese writing.
In Chinese speech, since 他 and 她 share the same pronunciation, there can be a lot of confusion about gender, even for native Chinese speakers! Sometimes, we need to clarify if 他 or 她 was used; to check, we ask the question: ‘女生的她 還是 男生的他？‘.
Let me break this long sentence into three parts for you:
女生的她 (nu3sheng1 de ta1)
literal translation: girl’s she?
還是/还是 (hai2 shi4)
男生的他 (nan2sheng1 de ta1)
literal translation: boy’s he?
So, the whole sentence: ‘女生的她 還是 男生的他’ means ‘do you mean ‘’he’’ or ‘’she’’?‘. There we go! No more confusion about 他(ta1) and 她 (ta1). Hooray!
好 is a compound of woman and boy. By adding 好 (good) and 手 (hand) together, we have a new phrase – 好手 ‘master’ or ‘expert’.
It is commonly used to describe professional sportsmen and sportswomen. Roger Federer is a 好手, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are all 好手!
好手 pinyin: hǎo shǒu/hao3 shou3