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In English if you mistake someone for another person it is common to say "I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else".

How should this be said in Chinese?

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up vote 15 down vote accepted


This is what I usually say in a real conversation.

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I think the most common way is:

wo yiwei ni shi linwai yi ge ren

You could also say:

wo yiwei ni shi bie ren

Often you may say the name of the person that you think they are:

我以为你是 'someone's name'.

You may like to add:

bu hao yisi

At the beginning of the sentence depending on the circumstance.

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I thought that might be the case. Is 我以为你是其他的人 also valid? I had a couple of ideas but wasn't sure if either of them were correct. – xiaohouzi79 Jan 3 '12 at 22:31
I think you could say that, although I haven't heard it much. It would probably be better without the 的 - as in this case apparently it just sounds better. Am not sure why, but hopefully a native speaker can clear this up. – chentudou Jan 3 '12 at 22:35
@xiaohouzi79: All the above can be understood by natives. But none of the above or your example (except 我以为你是...) is natural. 我以为你是 ... can be used when the three of the persons involved all know each other. – fefe Jan 4 '12 at 1:47
Yes I agree, but I was trying to get as close to a direct translation of the phrase in the question, i.e. saying i thought you were someone else and not just that that I got the wrong person, otherwise I'd go with Terry's answer. – chentudou Jan 4 '12 at 11:02
On a side note, 我以为你是另外一个人 is also fairly close to how you'd normally say it in Cantonese. – Zannjaminderson Jan 4 '12 at 17:15

chentudou has great answer. I'd like to add


抱歉 for being extra polite

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Useful to know:

If it's on the phone, say 不好意思,我打错了。

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