What's the difference in meaning and grammatical structure between ‘谁是你?’ and ‘你是谁?’?

I've read:

  • 谁是你 isn't grammatically correct while 你是谁 is.
    – Andrew Ngo
    Oct 24, 2017 at 4:39
  • I cannot think a context where "谁是你" makes sense ...
    – fefe
    Oct 24, 2017 at 4:39
  • "谁是你" could be valid when "you" as a part of a show/movie, so "谁是你" means "who would play the part of 'you' ". But it doesn't work well in the context OP provided.
    – dan
    Oct 24, 2017 at 6:33

1 Answer 1


‘谁是你?’= "who (which one) was you" - For example, your friend looking at a picture in your high school yearbook, wondering which one in the photo was you at the age of sixteen.

To avoid confusion, it is better to say "哪一个是你" (which one was you) instead of "谁是你?"

‘你是谁?’ = "who are you?" (if you know English, you understand what it means)

One more Example:

'在这张照片的二十人中, 谁(哪一个)是你?' - Among the twenty people in this photo, who (which one) was you?"

Better to use "哪一个" (which one) than "谁"(who) to make thing more clear.

  • Thank you so much. But is the former one grammatically correct? Oct 24, 2017 at 4:45
  • 1
    谁是你 is (technically) grammatically correct , but not a good choice, since '哪一个' is much more clear in expressing "which one"
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 24, 2017 at 4:52

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