I wonder how many words and pronunciations for I exist/existed in Chinese.

I know of these:

我:wǒ, but I believe it is pronounced ngo in Cantonese.

There seems to be an n-root for I in Chinese. I know, in 江苏泰州话, I = n

吾: wú also yù


俺:ǎn (孙悟空说的“俺老空”)

Can you contribute any more Is, please?

3 Answers 3


I would like to share an interesting “I”, 朕.

In modern day (or post-Qin Dynasty) usage, 朕 was a first person pronoun reserved solely for the Emperor to refer to himself in front of all his subjects.

However, before the Qin Dynasty, 朕 was a word used by all commoners to refer to themselves, among the large variety of words which conveyed the same meaning. (予、僕、吾、我)

屈原, who lived in the Warring States period of the Zhou dynasty, wrote a poem called 离骚. The first line says:


“(I am) a descendant of 帝高阳, my (late) father’s name is 伯庸.”

  • In the same vein, 寡人、孤
    – Vim
    Feb 1, 2020 at 4:00
  • 咱家: often used in early vernacular literature
    • eg: 《红楼梦.第五六回》:「众丫鬟都笑道:『原来不是咱家的宝玉。』」
  • 洒家: (音zá) oral used around Song & Yuan Dynasty. “洒家”是宋元时代北方口语

  • 在下, 鄙人, 不才, when introducing oneself to someone in same age

  • 晚生、后生: 年轻者在年长者面前的自陈。young people saying 'I' to elder people.
  • 老夫: 年长者在年轻者面前的自称,elder people saying 'I' to young.
  • 不孝儿:儿子在父母面前的自称, son saying 'I' to parents
  • 家: 用于对别人称自己的辈分高或年纪大的亲戚。如家父. introducing one's parent/elder relatives to others
  • 舍: 用于对别人称自己的辈分低或年纪小的亲戚。如舍弟, introducing one's relatives with same ages to others
  • 愚: 用于自称的谦称。如愚兄, introducing oneself
  • 敝, 鄙: 用于谦称自己或跟自己有关的事物
  • more at here


  • 我 (Baxter-Sagart 上古漢語擬音: /*ŋˤajʔ/), 吾 (/*ŋˤa/)

    • 𠊎 (客家話)

    • 俺 (我 + 們)

    • 阮 (我 + 儂, 閩南語)

    • 阿拉 (「阿」同源于「我」, 「拉」是複數詞, 上海話)

    • 卬 (雙峰湘語)

    • 昂 (金華吳語)

  • 予 (/*laʔ/), 余 (/*la/)

    • 朕 (/*lrəmʔ/, 皇帝自稱)
    • 台 (/*lə/, 普通話 )


  • 小人
  • 奴 (閩東語中是普通詞語)
  • 儂 (同源于「人」, 文昌話)
  • 僕, 婢


  • Hi and thanks! zdic has for 阮:唐代读音:ngiuæ̌n Is that the correct sound for this character as I??
    – Pedroski
    Jan 28, 2020 at 0:11
  • @Pedroski You're supposed to read it in the topolect that it's used in (閩南福建話, gún in POJ Romanisation), not 唐代讀音. Have you tried Wiktionary? They're pretty comprehensive in the topolects they list there.
    – dROOOze
    Jan 28, 2020 at 6:13

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