I am currently learning Mandarin in Simplified Chinese. I've just started learning so I cannot speak all that well. However, here is my problem:

I have a Chinese family coming over. They are proud that I am learning so I am making a greeting for them in Chinese. I also happen to have a pet moth, named "Seven". I think in Chinese the kanji for moth is 蛾. To put it simply, I want to write "Seven the Moth" on its tank and am I confused now.

One way is literally 七蛾 (seven moth), like "moth" is the title of Seven, like a name with Mr. or Miss or the title at the end. But then, they may think there are seven moths.

So, I think for another way using "de" like 蛾的七 (moth de seven), but I don't think this is correct, as it refers to an adjective modifying a noun.

The last way I can think of is like the first but reversed: 蛾七 (moth seven) which sounds the most correct, but I have no idea what to write.

What should I write on the tank?

  • 1
    小七——我心爱的宠物蛾 Little Seven, my beloved pet moth
    – young99
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 6:22
  • wonderful! Xie Xie!
    – Moth
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 6:26
  • The Chinese way to write "X, the Y" is "X——the Y", a double length of —.
    – young99
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 6:44
  • cf. 虹影 's novel 《饥饿的女儿》 (Daughter of the River), family members call daughter 六六 ("Little Six" in Howard Goldblatt's translation) explanation: 她(母亲)怀过八个孩子,死了二个,活着的这四个女儿两个儿子中,我是么女,第六。
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 8:35
  • As a mixture of both answers below maybe you’d like to go with something like “蛾子小七”
    – Mou某
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 17:14

4 Answers 4


Domestic animals like dog, cat, horse, cow, pig, goat, chicken and duck are often described with a single syllable word in Chinese:


There are few exceptions, For example, snake is not a domestic animal, but it is still being called with the single syllable word 蛇

For other animals, it is customary to use two syllables words to refer them.

For example:

Tiger (虎), is always called 老虎

Elephant (象) is always called 大象

Monkey (猴) is always called 猴子

Frog (蛙) is always called 青蛙

In the case of moth(蛾), it is always called 飛蛾

So, your should refer your pet moth as '飛蛾'

Calling someone by a single syllable name is rare because it sounded blunt. Most of the time we would add title or a name prefix (indicates a noun is a name) to make it a two syllable name.

For example:

The name '七' would be '小七, 阿七 or 七仔' in day-to-day conversation

In your case, "my pet-- Seven the moth" should be translated as '我的宠物-- 飛蛾小七 (or '阿七)'

Or you can say: " 小七, 我养的飛蛾" (little Seven, the pet moth I keep)

Edit: one more suggestion:

Since you called Chinese character as kanji, here is another suggestion-- 'Seven' in Japanese is なな (nana). You could call it '娜娜(Nana), which is a common female pet name.

  • i found this answer the most useful as it helped me correct my kanji of "moth" and also helped me fix the name. i have decided to use "啊七" because this moth is not small. try to look up hawk moths. some are the size of your palm just their body, haha.
    – Moth
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 21:24
  • Edited answer- "啊七" should be written as "阿七" -- '阿' cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/characters/934 ([1] [n] prefix to a name or term of address)
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jul 3, 2017 at 1:51

Basically there is no concept of appositive (同位語) in classical Chinese. Modern usage, I believe, borrows from English (or other Indo-European languages).


"孔子師郯子、萇弘、師襄、老聃。" 師襄: the music instructor Xiang (韓愈,師說)

"金谿民方仲永,世隸耕。" 金谿民方仲永: A citizen of Jin Xi, Fang Zhongyong (王安石,傷仲永)

小熊維尼"Winnie the Pooh", which is reversed also

The traditional grammar would, thus, be "蛾七"

However, by saying "蛾七", people can hardly understand (i.e. parse) what you are talking about. A more natural phrase is “我養的,名叫‘七’的蛾” but that is still awkward.

This is the very reason that starting with Middle Chinese, words are almost exclusively consisted of two syllables. (See one answer of mine that explains this.)

A native Chinese would probably have “小七”(?) or “阿七”(?), or “老七”(?), btw, each sounds very strange to me XD


According to Chinese expression habits(I'm a Chinese), you can call your pet "小七", "七七", "阿七", "七仔",and write "小七,我心爱的蛾子"or"七七——我的宠物飞蛾" . All the translation above is okay without ambiguity. The translate "斯文" by @mootmoot is interesting. You should know that "斯文" means "gentle", "refined", and "polite", if you want to take that name for your pet.


About your pet(or lab animal), it is up to you to speak their name in English, use the phonetic name or use Chinese nick name.

For non-native Mandarin speaker, the adequate way to introduce your pet is using a phonetic name. For example.

它英文叫做 Seven, 中文名叫做『斯文』。

Your Chinese friend will love your humor.

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