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When addressing a female, do I have to use 妳 instead of 你?

How common is the usage of 妳?

2
  • As far as I'm aware these are two characters for the same word with the same pronunciation and tone. Normally we only address people in speech so it wouldn't actually make any difference unless you are writing a note or sign addressing somebody directly. But then again maybe you really mean "to refer to ..." and not "to address ..."? Commented Feb 17, 2014 at 10:03
  • Mainland: I remember when I was in middle school, some of my classmates, girls, like to use 妳, which seems cute, but it would be wrong in school test。
    – sfy
    Commented Jul 5, 2018 at 14:45

5 Answers 5

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Mainland China doesn't use 妳 anymore. 妳 is mostly used in Hong Kong and Taiwan where they still use Traditional Chinese.

As you mentioned in the question, 妳 is used to address a female person. In mainland China, people use 你 for both males and females.

Note: the right hand side of 你 or 妳 is 尔. In Traditional Chinese, 尔 is written as 爾. However, as far as I know, 你 and 妳 in Traditional Chinese are not written as 儞 not 嬭 but just 你 and 妳.

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  • ha, here is the reason for my impression. Another question would be, if 妳 can be replaced by 你 in traditional Chinese?
    – Flake
    Commented Dec 15, 2011 at 0:48
  • 1
    As far as I know, in traditional Chinese 你 can be used for both male/female (ie. to some extent it is gender neutral). However, 妳 is only used for female (similar to 他 and 她).
    – pyko
    Commented Dec 18, 2011 at 10:13
  • Two more for you: 祢 --> You (God), 您 --> You (higher) They are still used in China. In China, we don't use 你 for both male and female. Commented Jun 14, 2012 at 20:36
  • @Derek朕會功夫 — don’t use for both; do you mean that 妳 IS used there?
    – 伟思礼
    Commented Jul 6, 2018 at 11:30
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Usage of 妳 is very common in Taiwan, but 你 is also okay.

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妳 is used more in Taiwan and Honk Kong where traditional Chinese is the official language while 你 is used generally to indicate both genders in mainland China where simplified Chinese is used. Actually, nowadays in Taiwan and Honk Kong more and more people use 你 for both male and female, unless in a particular situation that a man or boy is writing a love letter to his lover, 妳 would be used to show more uniqueness and respect and so forth.

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  • 6
    妳 has nothing to do with the traditional Chinese script, but is a novelty. In fact, traditional Chinese is genderless, with 他 denoting male, female and neutral pronouns. Same for 你 and other pronouns. Gender-specific pronouns are borrowed from Western languages, where such a feature is common. Thus 妳 developed fairly recently in Taiwan and Hongkong.
    – user4452
    Commented May 21, 2014 at 22:37
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    I agree. But don't forget language is spoken by people, with time, a non-standard language usage could be standard just because it is spoken by the majority. Commented May 27, 2014 at 18:58
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In mainland China, no dictionaries have the Chinese characters 妳, only 你 is valid. 妳 is not acceptable at all.

In Hong Kong and Taiwan, 你 is for male while 妳 is for female.

Notice: 儞 and 嬭 are wrong, no such characters at all.

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  • xh.5156edu.com/html3/6432.html 妳 in the 新華字典
    – dda
    Commented Jun 4, 2014 at 7:56
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    @dda Yes, I have already known that 儞 and 嬭 exist in the Unicode code points, otherwise I am not able to type it out, but they are absolutely not legal Chinese characters. Unicode takes them just for the printing convience for textbooks to print "儞 and 嬭 are illegal characters".
    – Victor
    Commented Sep 3, 2014 at 16:23
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    Saying "absolutely not legal Chinese characters" is ridiculous, since they exist and are attested even in Mainland dictionaries. I have left my paper 新华字典 in Shenzhen, but the other 2 Mainland dictionaries I have here list 嬭 as a Traditional version of 奶. They put (嬭) in parens, acknowledging their existence and "conversion" to simplified 奶. There's a whole world outside post-1949 Communist China, you know...
    – dda
    Commented Sep 8, 2014 at 11:50
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    @dda OK, I forgot 嬭 with the pronunciation nǎi. In fact, 奶 is not the simplified Chinese character of 嬭. It is just only a variant writing. Therefore 新华字典 has 奶(*嬭), note the asterisk. According to 凡例 in 新华字典, asterisk stands for variants in writing, rather than the relationship between simplified Chinese characters and traditional Chinese characters. You may also find 过(過), without asterisk, it means that 过 is the simplified Chinese character of 過.
    – Victor
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 0:10
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Not sure if it is a standard character in mainland Mandarin. I never use it in my life and have only seen it in very limited situations.

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  • In what situations have you seen it?
    – dusan
    Commented Jan 22, 2012 at 3:55
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    I've seen it on some informal websites and (digital) images from HK, but never in text from the mainland. The context of the pictures were talking about boyfriends, so it was probably used to intentionally effeminate the reader (who's most likely to be a girl anyway). Not sure if I chose the right words, but the connotation is along those lines.
    – sqrtbottle
    Commented Jun 3, 2015 at 13:57

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