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A man I don't know calls me and starts talking to me in Chinese. All is fine, except I don't know who he is. I sense I'm not the person he's looking for. How do I ask who he is without being too blunt: "你是誰?"

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

There are several ways to say it:



Qǐng wèn (May I ask), nǐ shì (you are) (which) wèi (identifier for people/position)

May I ask, who is this?

您好, 您找谁?

Nín hǎo (hello), nín (polite form of you) zhǎo (looking) sheí (who)?

Hello, whom are you looking for?


Wei ("hi"- typical way people answer the phone), qǐng wèn nín shì sheí?

Hi, who is this please (..., 请问 is "please". 请问 ,... is "excuse me") ?


喂? 哪位?

Wèi nǎ wèi

Hi, who is this...?


Zhǎo sheí ya ("ya" is a participle equivalent to 啊 "ah" expressing surprise or doubt)?

Who are you lookin' for?

These are the ones I typically hear... although there are more.

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Yo son your English is fading as your Mandarin strengthens... "these are the ones I typically here" – user2251 Jan 10 '13 at 2:03
The mixed use of 你 and 您 in the 2nd sentence seems weird. I would pick either and stick with it. – NS.X. Jan 10 '13 at 2:26
@NS.X. Good catch- oops. at B.D, lol that's not good :O – Growler Jan 10 '13 at 2:49
@Growler Word to word, 请问 is more closer to May I ask ..., and 对不起/不好意思 = excuse me. However, 请问您是谁 = who is this please is good translation. – John Siu Jan 10 '13 at 4:45
@JohnSiu noted. thanks – Growler Jan 10 '13 at 5:06

Polite: 请问您是哪位?

Impolite: 哎,你是哪个?

Alternatively, you could politely ask him who he is looking for:

Polite: 请问您找谁?

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Some people (at least in Taiwan) also say (你)哪里找, which to me doesn't seem either super polite or super impolite...really just depends on tone of voice.

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Politer than 你是誰? is 你是哪一位?.

(Side note: I'd also like to point out that 這是誰? is wrong, while 你是誰? is acceptable. You got this right, but it's not obvious to a lot of learners.)

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I think I've heard "這是誰?" before, although it's pretty rude. – Growler Jan 10 '13 at 2:59
@Growler And in English, it's the opposite. "Who are you?" is very in-your-face and rude, while "Who is this?" is pretty standard. – Stumpy Joe Pete Jan 10 '13 at 5:17
Yeah that's actually true, lol. Never thought about that. – Growler Jan 11 '13 at 16:52
I guess what @Growler heard is in fact 這誰啊, yeah, quite blunt. In 你是哪一位, the 一 is usually dropped, so 您哪位 or 您是哪位. – congliu Aug 21 '13 at 16:07

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