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In English you can say "I'm taken" to express that you already have a significant other (girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/wife/etc.) and are not open to romantic advances from other people.

Is there an equivalent expression in Chinese, other than explicitly saying something like 我已经结婚了 or 我已经有女朋友?

  • If a Chinese is too shy to say that explicitly, he/she might hide the information inside their casual talking and behavior, in which you can infer their marital staus... If he/she is brave enough, he/she should be able to say that directly. – Harry Summer May 16 '18 at 7:30
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You can use 名花有主 to describe a third person 'being taken' in a romantic sense. For example: "他已经是名花有主" (he is already taken)

Since it sounds arrogant to call oneself "名花" (quite a catch), "名花有主" is only appropriate when describing a third person.

Also "名花" is usually a description of a lady. Using it to describe a man is less common, therefore someone would say "名草有主" instead

Or you can use "心有所屬" to declare you are "taken"

"我已经心有所屬" = (my heart had already settled on someone)

But 心有所屬 is quite a literary phrase, rarely used colloquially.

我已经有女朋友

It sounds most natural in native Chinese speech

  • Should we pronounce 屬 as zhu like 屬意,前後相屬 or shu like 屬於? – Ludi May 17 '18 at 14:23
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    @Ludi pedia.cloud.edu.tw/Entry/Detail/?title=%E6%89%80%E5%B1%AC 漢語拼音: suǒ shǔ ; 解釋: 屬下。如:「他命令所屬單位徹查此事。」屬於、歸依。如:「心有所屬」。 – Tang Ho May 17 '18 at 17:14
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Other than that there is one more term means "being taken" in a romantic sense which is "死會". Although it doesn't looks like anything to do with "relationship", it's means the person has a boyfriend/girlfriend.

For example: Using it in first person 我已經死會了 = I'm taken

Using it in second person 你/妳經死會了 = You are taken.

Using it in third person 他/她已經死會了 = He/She is taken

PS: I think this term is only commonly used in Taiwan. I never hear my Chinese friends from mainland China say it. I think it is because the term is derived from "Taiwanese". So think twice before you use it in mainland China.

  • 死會 is shortened form of 供死會. Meaning you have already taken back your capital, earned your share of interest, and are bound to fulfill your share of monthly contribution. It has nothing to do with "relationship" – Tang Ho May 17 '18 at 1:59
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    Oh yes it is the term we use in Taiwan which meaning someone is in relationship. And you right also. The originally meaning of "死會" is the one you as you said. But it can also be used to describe a person is in relationship. I am Taiwanese and this is the way we use in Taiwan. No one (or very few people) use it's original meaning now. That's why I said: I think this term is only commonly used in Taiwan. – SteveWu May 19 '18 at 2:22
  • @TangHo You're not wrong except the last sentence in your comment. In the modern days, more people use banks to loan money although there are still people use 會. The phrase "死會" has been used to mean the person has been taken more popularly than its original meaning. – scaaahu May 26 '18 at 4:15
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One thing to note: the passive voice is a rare construction that often carries a negative connotation in traditional Chinese. In general it flows more “Chinese-ly” to use the active voice. Part of the westernization of the language is that the passive voice has become more and more common among the younger generation. Whether or not that’s good or bad is beyond the scope of this forum, but it’s just something to keep in mind as you learn Chinese. It’s important to know that its written form has changed dramatically within the last half a century. Among these changes, I’d even venture to say that simplification of the scripts is the most minor in terms of its impact to literature.

And so instead of saying the passive “I’m taken”, Chinese prefers saying “I have a partner” or “I am [state of actively dating someone]”. 我有對象了,我有男女朋友了,我已心有所屬 are all examples of the active voice.

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