3

Saw this on Collins dictionary entry for

我公司最近更新了设备

It's translated as 'Our company recently updated the equipment'

Likewise, Google, Bing, and DeepL translated 我 as 'our' from the Chinese sentence above

First time I see the use of 我 as plural (our)

Shouldn't it be 我们公司?

If I want to emphasize it's my(singular) company, how to phrase My company in Chinese?

I have this entry for 我 in the dictionary of Chinese words separator Chrome extension

"我":"our, us, i, me, my, we",

I'm thinking if I should remove the our, us, we from extension's dictionary, as 我 is not normally used as plural, or should I keep those words?

2
  • Another common alternative: 我司
    – Mou某
    May 26 at 6:34
  • if only 1 staff of the company involved, 我公司=我们公司, right? May 26 at 9:57
6

If I want to emphasize it's my(singular) company, how to phrase My company in Chinese?

You can use the possessive marker 的 to denote relating to or possession of an object noun.

我的公司 = my company (you don't own it, just work for it, so 的 indicates 'relating', not 'possessing')

我的公司 = my company (if you own it, 的 indicates possessing' not 'relating')

This means either you own it or not, you still say 我的公司

~

我公司 can be the shortened form of 我的公司 (my company) or 我們的公司 (our company) That mean 我 before a noun without a possessive marker 的 can be singular or plural

You can omit the possessive marker 的 and say 我公司 when you don't directly possess it, only relatively possess it. e.g. 我的父親 (my father) can be reduced to 我父親 because you don't own your father; 我的房子 cannot be reduced to 我房子 because you do own your house.

Also, check Why there is no 的 after 你 in 你国家的医院好吗?

6

Tl;dr: In fixed expressions, is less 'singular' than you think. Plurality is often picked up by context.

  1. Here are some example pairs of common collocations. Those that do not exist are labelled with an asterisk (*).
"My" "Our"
country 我的國家 我國(*我們國)
city 我的城市 我城(*我們城)
company 我(的)公司 我社(*我們社)
school 我(的)學校 我校(*我們校)
family 我(的)家 我們家
  1. It is possible for to be plural in certain words. (This feature is a remnant of classical Chinese, see point 5.) Compare the following:

    a. 我的國家科技先進。 Regarding my country, its technology is advanced.
    b. 我國科技先進。 Regarding our country, its technology is advanced.

    The speaker in a. seems to be introducing his/her country to an outsider. But the speaker in b. seems to be speaking to his/her fellow countrymen (specifically, the inclusive we was used).

  2. 我國, 我社, 我校 are all fixed expressions. You cannot add -們 within. But there are exceptions:

    a. 我家共有四人。 My/our family has four people in total.
    b. 我們家住上海。 Our family lives in Shanghai.

    It's fairly difficult to pinpoint the difference between 我家 and 我們家, but in the latter case, the speaker seems to be speaking on behalf of his/her whole family. That is to say, it's just a matter of nuance.

  3. I think in this context, translating into 'our' is more idiomatic in English. Translations need not be 100% loyal to the original text. Such is the case for 我公司 (my/our company) and 我學校 (my/our school). Using the first person plural in English seems to make the speaker speak on behalf of his/her community.

  4. The Dictionary of Frequently Used Ancient Chinese Characters 5e (古漢語常用字字典) defines (another first person pronoun in classical Chinese) as:

    第一人稱代詞。我(們),我(們)的。
    (tr.) First person pronoun. I/We, my/our.

    Frankly it is possible to denote first person plural with just / (although to be fair plurality markers were already present e.g. 我等, 爾等), so much so it can even represent a warring state:

    齊師伐 the armies of Qi attack our state

    So it's wrong to look at in fixed expressions as always being 'singular'. Of course in everyday speech is still the singular pronoun as we all know.

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  • I respectfully disagree with the table that indicates 我 as "ours" in 我國, 我城, 我社, 我校. They are "簡稱". Since it is understood that 國, 城, 社, 校 belong to all the people in the particular organization as opposed to a single person (我), so 們 is dropped as it is redundant in these cases. However, when mentioning "home", "我家" means "my home " without requiring additional descriptive word; and "我們家" means "our home", in which 們 can't be dropped as it is used in situations that inclusive of other family members are appropriate, or necessary, therefore "簡稱" (我家) does not exist for this case.
    – r13
    May 25 at 18:34
  • There still needs to be an explanation for the different behaviour between the monosyllabic 國/城/社/校 and 家. My claim for 我’s plurality is not unfounded: you can look up dictionary entries for the Japanese analogue わが and the Classical Chinese 我; both entries contain the definition “us; our”. My answer only serves to provide evidence that 我 is not as “singular” as it seems in modern Chinese.
    – L Parker
    May 26 at 3:01
  • Great, although I'm not sure what relevance the Japanese is? Japanese わが is not cognate to Chinese 我.
    – dROOOze
    May 26 at 12:44
  • @drOOOze you're right.
    – L Parker
    May 26 at 13:04
0

Actually there isn't much difference between them, unless use verbatim for possession. The point is that the noun is representing a group. This might be a outcome of collectivism deeply rooted in Chinese culture. Also, traditionally those who has the opportunity to speak of the group are speak on behalf of the group.

BTW, 我们 almost always includes the listener. It is more common to see colleagues refer to the company they both work for as 我们公司.

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