Several answers on this site suggest addressing a woman as 大姐 but that seems wrong for a professor speaking to a woman student. To be clear, by professor here I mean a university professor speaking to a university student. The term professor in English is more specific than 老師 in Chinese.

The situation would be speaking to a student in class, or in office hours, or when meeting them on campus, when it is not a student that I have worked closely with. In the US I normally address students in this situation as Mr or Ms.

Would it be best to use the student's full name with no title?

On the difference between teacher and professor, in both US usage and UK, see


I almost left out any mention of not using 小姐. It now well known that this is not good on the mainland.

  • 1
    +1 for full name no title.
    – Mou某
    Apr 9, 2015 at 4:21
  • 1
    same way he/she should address a male student
    – user6065
    Apr 9, 2015 at 12:24
  • @S.Rhee see chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/2532/… A woman should be addressed as 先生 only under very specific circumstances. Apr 9, 2015 at 12:57
  • 1
    users watching TVseries know that school teachers refer to students in their classes as 同学, so that as commented below 同学 seems most appropriate。 正如看电视剧的使用者都知道那样,(中、小学的)教师将自己班的学生都称为同学。因此正如在下面的评论已说的那样"同学"这种称呼好像最合适。
    – user6065
    Apr 9, 2015 at 14:41
  • 1
    @ColinMcLarty 同學 can be used to address students or fellow students of all levels, from kindergarten to adult students.
    – monalisa
    Apr 10, 2015 at 5:10

6 Answers 6


There are a few different ways depending on how well the prof knows her and how formal the situation is. Examples:

张玲玲 full name: all purpose, not too formal

玲玲 given names only: if s/he knows her quite well

Note, however, that if her given name consists of just one syllable/character, then usually full name is used.

张玲玲同學 full name + address term: formal

张同學 family name + address term: formal

女生 is not used as an address term. Use this when you want to say, for instance, "I have ten female students."


I think called her full name or just 同学 is okay.

  • 2
    @songyuanyao First name + 同学 is a little overly formal but it's also a good choice.
    – biubiubiu
    Apr 9, 2015 at 4:04

In what situation do you want to address her?

In most cases, just use full name and no title.

If the student is much younger than you, sometimes you can call her +her family name. For example, if her name is 陈婷婷, you may call her 小陈


You should address her by her name. either full name or first name. Calling anything other than that makes it extremely weird.

  • So 同学 is extremely weird?
    – Olle Linge
    Apr 10, 2015 at 7:03

You can call their name directly or just call them 同学 if their names are unknown for you. These're the most safe option all the time. We, Chinese, are used to it and it's not embarrassing. Also, if you are a professor in a university, they call you 教授 most.

In addition, 小姐 or 大姐 are in the danger zone of Chinese Language. Abuse of them may cause some problem.


First of all, I basically think if the social status and age are higher than other person's, it will be appropriate if you call him/her the full name.

@monalisa has already given a very full answer based on the situation. I just want to add a very rare case. There are several two character Chinese family names, such as 司马,令狐,皇甫 etc. Actually, I always have one classmate whose family name has two character. In this case, you won't call him/her such as 司马相如同学 in formal situation. It is a little bit cumbersome. You can call him/her 司马同学,相如同学 in formal. And in informal situation, you can call him/her 司马, 司马相如 or 相如。

And also be aware of this: if someone's name is 令狐冲,令狐 is his family name and 冲 is his given name. You can call him 令狐同学 in formal way, and call him 令狐,令狐冲 in informal way.

One rule in thumb, never call other person in a single character, such as 冲, unless you are lovers.

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