How often can 汉 be used for the English -er, person who does ____?  Google Translate¹ gives 流浪 for to wander or wandering which is supported by other sources, but for wanderer, tramp, hobo it gave 流浪汉.  That was surprising, but I did find a source that said could be used for a person.

Is there a not-too-complicated way to know when to use 汉 instead of 人?

See also Can you apply 男子汉 and 女汉子 to non-Chinese?

¹Yes, I know that reliable machine translation is still science fiction.

  • rarely;小马词典 has 夯汉 carrier who carries heavy loads on his shoulder (topolect)、 man,fellow:老汉、大汉、懒汉、男子汉、单身汉,most common suffix for - er: 者:committed to a particular task e.g. 记者、学者、读者、作者、编者、患者、爱好者、素食者、侵略者、旁观者 (from Yip Po-Ching, The Chinese Lexicon)
    – user6065
    Mar 7, 2017 at 15:38

1 Answer 1


How often can 汉 be used for the English -er, person who does ____?

Not often.

'者'(person) as in '记者'(reporter)、'学者'(scholar), is one of a few words equal to -er in English. (see user6065's comment).

There are also:

  • '夫'(man) as in '农夫'(fisherman), '渔夫'(farmer)
  • '人'(person) as in '中间人'(middleman), '保证人'(guarantor)

'汉' = 'man' or 'guy'. It is a noun for male exclusively when used to refer to a person.



男子汉(manly man)

单身汉(single guy)

大汉(big guy)

壮汉(strong guy)

Basically, we can use 汉 for most terms that describe the characteristics of a man, For example: stupid man(蠢汉), boring man (无聊汉), brave man (勇汉), middle aged man (中年汉), but not for the job titles or things that one does.

'女汉子'(woman with male personality) has no direct counterpart in English, but 'tomboy' is a very good translation.

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