Can 吃的人 mean both a person who eats something and a person who someone eats? If a subject or a object is omitted.

  • it would seem so, analogous to 吃的东西,所吃的东西,for greater clarity indicate agent using 被 (along with 给 in front of verb 吃)(or e.g. 叫某动物给吃的人): 被动物(人/酸)(给)吃的人,also note that the 被 (formal) has been replacing the notional passive more and more also it seems somewhat unusual to say just 吃的人 (for "the one that eats"), note e.g. 很能吃的人; also ichacha: 好吃的人 fresser 考究吃的人 free-liver 口吃的人 stammerer 贪吃的人 chowhound; glutton; locust; swallower
    – user6065
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:18
  • Can I say 在吃的人?
    – user18349
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:19
  • A person who is eating something
    – user18349
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:20
  • exactly, maybe even 正在吃的人
    – user6065
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:20
  • A person who will eat something and a person who eats something are same into 吃的人?
    – user18349
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:21

5 Answers 5



How do these persons, who eat it, think of it?

这些用来吃的人味道不错, 鸡肉味.

These persons who are for eating are not bad, like chicken.

  • But without 用来 both can be same?
    – user18349
    Nov 14, 2017 at 14:43
  • Without 用来, it means people who eats it always
    – sfy
    Nov 14, 2017 at 15:03

In the right context, '吃的人‘ can mean 'the person who we are eating'.

Reminds me of that old joke:

2 cannibals are eating a clown, one says to the other, "Does this clown taste funny to you?"


Very funny in English, not so sure in Chinese, humour does not translate well!

  • That joke is really funny to me!
    – dan
    Nov 14, 2017 at 23:11
  • "Does this clown taste funny to you?": 这个小丑尝(/吃)起来也很搞笑吧? Maybe, this translation sounds funnier...
    – dan
    Nov 15, 2017 at 1:10
  • lmo, 这顿饭搞笑吗? "Is this a funny dinner?".
    – sfy
    Nov 15, 2017 at 5:03
  • The point being: a clown should be funny, should make you laugh, but 'a funny taste' means 'a strange or unusual taste', perhaps from food which has gone bad. The 2 senses of 'funny' make the joke funny! I don't know if it is possible to effectively represent these 2 senses in Chinese.
    – Pedroski
    Nov 15, 2017 at 8:30
  • I guess not if this is a pun. at least I can not figure it out.
    – dan
    Nov 15, 2017 at 11:37

In addition to other answers:

The form "吃的x" is not disambiguated by syntax, but by semantics.

In common sense, a person is not to be eaten, so "吃的人" would only mean "man who eats" (except when there is very explicit context to let it mean otherwise).

On the other side "吃的鱼" would mean "the fish to be eaten".


This is an interesting question.

By default, 吃的人 would mean 吃xxx的人, like 吃肉的人. Example, 这东西吃的人很少 means 吃这东西的人很少.

If you truly want to denote 'a person who someone eats', you could say '所吃的人' or '所吃之人'.

One of usage of 所 is to precede a verb to indicate the following object is the receiver or accepter of that action. In this case, 所吃的人, 吃 is a verb and 人 is the target. So, 所吃的人 clearly denotes 'a person who was eaten'.

Here is some examples:

他所吃的人 // the one who he ate;

你知道他所吃的人是谁吗? // do you know the person who he ate?

On top of that, if you say 吃的东西(食物), it would mean 所吃的东西(食物)--something(food) that was eaten. Like, 我们吃的东西==我们所吃的东西==something we eat.


probably, you mean that a man is eating. we usually say: 那个人正在吃东西,but we don't say: 那个在吃的人. I'm a native speaker of Chinese, hope it will help.

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