I'm translating my resume into Chinese so I can maybe apply for a Chinese job.

There are a number of items on there where I'm not sure when to use 家, 师, 员, or 者.

Example, I developed a comics website, Hitting Trees with Sticks.com where I was the sole developer, designer, artist, and writer.

I translated it as this, but am not sure if I'm correct:

其他          Hitting Trees with Sticks.com, 漫画与艺术        四月‘12年到至今   

Are there some rules I can use to determine when I should use which?

  • 2
    I'd say that it's almost purely lexical. I suppose you could make some vague observation about "家" being associated with the arts or "人员" sounding formal and corporate, but you're still going to have to look at each case individually. I don't think there's a shortcut to be had. Feb 7, 2013 at 17:54
  • 1
    I think memorization is the key in Chinese. Also if doesn't sound right to you, then probably there is something wrong. Feb 10, 2013 at 7:20
  • There's another "士" that can join the club. 民主人士, 戰士, 官方人士
    – George
    Aug 21, 2013 at 16:34
  • 艺术家 is not the thing you want to put into your resume though, @Growler, 开发者和设计者 may suit your need
    – George
    Aug 22, 2013 at 3:55

4 Answers 4


I'll just talk about my own understanding here.

家 says that someone is so professional and experienced, and may have reputation so that he/she can be regarded as a master or authority in his/her field, e.g. 武术家, which means a martial art master.

师 often emphasizes occupation or job, compare 画家 and 画师.

员 is usually related to staff or crew.

者 is formal, as Mike says, and also general.

  • 1
    I'd like to add that 員 is usually used when the person is part of a group, such as staff at a company or a member of a sports team.
    – Olle Linge
    Feb 11, 2013 at 0:00
  • @OlleLinge Agreed :)
    – pjhades
    Feb 11, 2013 at 5:47
  • example for 員:網絡管理員 administrator cf. 管理者 manager
    – George
    Aug 22, 2013 at 3:52

I am a native Mandarin speaker, and I would say that your translation for "sole developer, designer, artist, and writer" is quite OK and in my point of view is good enough for your CV.

As a native speaker, I never think of the differences among 家,师,员 and 者. There are some rules as PJ.Hades and Mike Manilone explained in their answers, but following those rules do not guarantee a proper usage. There are many exceptions and you have to look at each case individually like Stumpy Joe Pete replied in your question.

Going back to your question, I actually would suggest you to translate "sole developer" to "开发者" instead of “开发人员”. Not saying your translation is not correct, but being a software developer myself, I would prefer "者" to "人员", because "人员" refers more often to one in a staff or crew.


Don't try to find any rule such as grammar that can direct you how to speak Chinese like a PC program. For this problem, just "死记", this is the only way. Any other method will waste you more time and give you more pain. Only one thing you need to have in mind: "家" usually means an expert.


家 means someone who is really good at this domain. For example, writer can be 写作者 and also 作家. A 作家 is a well-known 写作者.

师 isn't often used, often used for designing. designer -> 设计师, architect -> 构架师.

员 isn't often used, often used for 人员.

者, the most normal word, almost everything can use this. For example, developer is 开发者.

And of course, there will be some exceptions.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.