In English, sometimes we'll refer to a person whose name is unknown or undisclosed as "Person A" particularly in hypothetical scenarios. Does a similar thing exist in Chinese that doesn't make use of English letters?

  • 1
    Some other alternatives: 某甲,某乙,etc.
    – xbh
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 3:40

6 Answers 6


You would say


which come from 天干, you could also say


If you know the person's surname, you could also say


In case if you want the specify that person's occupation


  • what about 小明,小刚,小红,李华
    – Voyager
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 9:01
  • @rambler Those would almost be real name and nicknames, which can be commonly used in simple short made up stories.
    – zyy
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 13:21

To refer to someone non-specific, you can say「某某/某人/某某人」.


Someone in my factory was stealing things. I won't mention him by name, but he should come forth honestly and explain himself.

To refer to Person A or Party A, for example in an agreement or contract, you can say 「甲方」(as opposed to Person/Party B「乙方」or both parties「雙方」).


In addition to those involving 某, as explained in other answers, there are some general names used quite often (e.g. in story-telling) like 张三 and 李四.

The complete list goes as: 刘一、陈二、张三、李四、王五、赵六、孙七、周八、吴九、郑十

Source: https://www.zhihu.com/question/63926768

  • 2
    Btw, I think this is the equivalent of John Doe (and Jane Doe) used in English.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 4:00

有个人。 means someone/somebody whom you don't know.


Let me introduce two things:

天干 (Celestial Stems):

甲 乙 丙 丁 戊 己 庚 辛 壬 癸


地支 (Terrestrial Branches):

子 丑 寅 卯 辰 巳 午 未 申 酉 戌 亥

These two things are often used for these purposes.

Example 1

某甲 person A

某乙 person B

Example 2

甲型肝炎 (甲肝) hepatitis A

乙型肝炎 (乙肝) hepatitis B

丙型肝炎 hepatitis C

丁型肝炎 hepatitis D

Example 3

甲型超声波 ultrasound A

乙型超声波 (B超) ultrasound B

Example 4

甲烷 methane

乙烷 ethane

丙烷 propane

丁烷 butane

戊烷 pentane

己烷 hexane

庚烷 heptane

辛烷 octane

壬烷 nonane

癸烷 decane


Yes, it does. The most famous unknown person A is "张三" in Chinese.

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