What is the difference between 他, 她, and 它?
I want to know when you use one and when not to. It seems pretty basic language because I hear 他, 她, and 它 everywhere in Chinese language.
Anything else would be appreciated.
Disclaimer: I am a native speaker, but I am neither a professional linguist, nor have I received any sufficient grammar training beyond high school Chinese, so please take a grain of salt.
“他” would be “he” in English， “她” would be “she” and “它” would be “it". We use it exactly like that in English.
a mnemonic device: the left component of "她” is “女字旁”， which is an indication that the word is related to female.
她 is "she",female only. While 他 refers to both male and female. But sometimes 他 may only stand for male. In English,when you're not sure one's gender,you have to say "He or she is....".But in Chinese you can simply use 他 to include both male and female. Please note,unlike "it" in English,它 is only used to indicate non-living objects.
What is the difference between 他, 它, and 她?
In short, you can exchange 它 and 她 to 他, but not always right inversely. Basically, 他 is inclusive. In the stories for children, 他 is used for animals. In most cases, if you do not have to use 她, always use 他 instead.
For example, 我们今天要选一个组长,他必须有五年的工作经验.
You must not write, 我们今天要选一个组长,她必须有五年的工作经验. Since 她 is exclusive.
Trying to use linguistic slangs: 他 is the masculine gender third person, i.e "he/him"; 她 is the feminine gender third person i.e "she/her"; it for non-human third person, i.e "it" In Traditional Chinese, there is also 妳 for feminine gender second person, Simplified Chinese doesn't normally distinguish the gender for second-person.
Also in Chinese, do not use 它("it") for babies.
You can use 她/他 for animals, pets. Nations, lands, ships are often referred to in feminine gender when speaking figuratively.
Normally, the masculine gender are used for default, unknown and mixed genders like it is used to be in English in which it is common to use "she or he" to refer to unknown gender. In Chinese the form of 他或她 (he or she) are not very common but acceptable if the speaker what to stress gender equity.
When personification, 她、他 can be used for objects that are not human.