When to say 你 and when to say 你们?
Hello everybody, I just wrote this:
Because in English 你 and 你们 both are translated as 'you', I wasn't exactly sure if I should use 你, 你们 or both. In a way, I am talking to a group, but in another way I am speaking to others individually. How would Chinese people handle it?
zhenlijiangDecember 22, 2009, 08:49 AM
Xiaophil, (sorry 我也不是中国人), this "you/you guys" thing to me is what makes English speakers able to feel an affinity with Chinese! Both in English and in Chinese, you use you/你 (like I just did now) to mean a general you, or "we" in general. We can't do this in all languages, can't do it in Japanese.
I personally don't think you ever need to refer to you "all", when you're obviously addressing the question to the general public. But anyway because you start out with 大家, I think you take care of any issue right there. I would just go on with 你 even:
or，I think I'd be more likely to do something like:
But I would also like to hear from an authority!
PS "Why did you choose those particular Chinese names?".
Simon, I don't think in English we'd be likely to take this style when writing a public question for individuals to consider and respond to. I think in English, we stick to the singular form, when it's understood that no particular individuals are being addressed.
simonpetterssonDecember 22, 2009, 06:38 AM
Can't say much about Chinese in particular, but in Swedish, where we differentiate it the same way (and don't use plural "you" as a term of respect, the way the French do), it's mostly a matter of style. That is, do you want to sound personal or general? Do you want to address each person in the audience or the audience as a whole?
I think it sounds good as it stands (or, at least, it would in Swedish). In a way, you've got this issue in English, too: "Why did you choose that particular Chinese name?" vs. "Why did you choose those particular Chinese names?". That makes it obvious that in this intance, you're talking to each person, individually.
crystal_counselorDecember 22, 2009, 09:04 AM
when you are talking to a group of people, if you want to describe a certain specific situation or condition, I think you should use 你。like here in your sentence, 你问了很多关于名字的问题，这是比较具体的，所以最好用“你”。
xiaophilDecember 22, 2009, 10:34 AM
Crystal and Zhen, thanks for the insight. I have to leave now, so I'm afraid I can't reply in detail. Hopefully I can peak in tomorrow.
One quick question, how come 了 was removed from this sentence: 你为什么选择这个名字？I think I feel the reason, but I can't explain it at all.
oranginaDecember 22, 2009, 03:08 PM
I like "你" in your sentence because I can only answer for myself. So you are asking many people, but they must all answer as individuals, not as a group. As for the 了, based on no actual knowledge I would say that in this question the time frame is not important, and it is obvious we are all not in the process of choosing names. So is seems the 了ness is irrelevant.
I love your questions! I always have to think about the language more carefully when you ask something.
crystal_counselorDecember 23, 2009, 12:46 AM
hi, "verb+了" is not the same as English "did".
"verb+了" indicates that you have finished it.You use it only when you want to emphasize the accomplishment of the action.
so questions like "为什么","什么时候", usually you dont need to put 了， for example"你为什么来中国？"