Chinese Pronouns

Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns & Adjectives: This, That, These, Those, This One, That One



Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns & Adjectives: This, That, These, Those, This One, That One

This, That, These, Those are Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns or Demonstrative Adjectives as they suggest a relative distance or time based on individual perception of what is near and what is far.

The thing that is comparatively nearer from another object is this  or these 这些. What is further away or relatively distant from the compared target is that  or those 那些.

  • can refer to a singular noun for This one 这个 and That one 那个. We can also use it as a Measure WordThis person 这个人.
  • Xiē is a plural form and means some, few or several.
This (Singular)Zhè
That (Singular)
These (Plural)这些Zhèxiē
Those (Plural)那些Nàxiē
This one / This (Noun)这个Zhège
That one / That (Noun)那个Nàgè

 

In this lesson, we will look into the aspect of using the Demonstrative Pronouns and Demonstrative Adjectives in the sentences. The Chinese Demonstratives are quite similar to English so you will have an easier time understanding them.



How to Say “Not This Time” in Chinese Mandarin?

How do you reject someone when you are not available for the invitation? How to say “not this time” in Chinese Mandarin? Next time? The following reply is a native method of rejecting.

Rest assured that when you say next time, “I will surely go”, it is not a promise. It is a polite and formal way of showing your appreciation when receiving an invitation.

Chinese people are known for giving polite excuses. However, they may not necessarily mean what they say as compared to the Westerners who are more frank and direct.

Thank you for the invitation. Not this time, next time (perhaps). Next time, I will surely go! Sorry.

谢谢你的邀请。这次不行。下次吧。下次我一定会去!不好意思。
Xiè xiè nǐ de yāo qǐng. Zhè cì bù xíng. Xià cì ba. Xià cì wǒ yī dìng huì qù! Bù hǎo yì si.

 

Chinese Demonstrative Adjectives

Chinese Demonstrative Adjective / Determiner is placed before a noun and is a modifier. For singular demonstratives (this/that), use it with a Chinese Measure Word before the noun. Omit the Measure Word in plural form (these/those).

Singular Demonstrative Adjective (This  Zhè / That 那 + Measure Word + Noun

Plural Demonstrative Adjective (These 这些 Zhè Xiē / Those 那些 Nà Xiē) + Noun

 

This house is mine.
That person is so strange.
These people are my colleagues.
Those food are not healthy.

这间房子是我的。
那个人很奇怪。
这些人是我的同事。
那些食物不健康。

Zhè jiān fáng zi shì wǒ de.
Nà gè rén hěn qí guài.
Zhè xiē rén shì wǒ de tóng shì.
Nà xiē shí wù bù jiàn kāng.

 

I am too busy (that I) forget about this issue.

我太忙了,把这件事忘了。
Wǒ tài máng le, bǎ zhè jiàn shì wàng le.


That time, I almost lost my life. So dangerous!

那一次我差点丢了性命。好险!
Nà yī cì wǒ chà diǎn diū le xìng mìng. Hǎo xiǎn!


Please explain these questions/problems to me.

请你解释这些问题给我听。
Qǐng nǐ jiě shì zhè xiē wèn tí gěi wǒ tīng.


Customers’ suggestions are all good. You may consider.

顾客们的那些建议都很好。你可以考虑一下。
Gù kè men dì nà xiē jiàn yì dōu hěn hǎo. Nǐ kě yǐ kǎo lǜ yī xià.



Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns

Questions about THINGS

Let’s start with some questions where you want to know some unidentified objects. It is where you apply the Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns. If the quantity is unknown to you, it does not matter whether you use the singular or plural question. They are all correct (since they are anonymous right?).

However, if the object is right in front of you, use this or these when asking questions and not the other pair of words.

What is this?
What is that?
What are these?
What are those?

这是什么?
那是什么?
这些是什么?
那些是什么?

Zhè shì shén me?
Nà shì shén me?
Zhè xiē shì shén me?
Nà xiē shì shén me?

 

Answers about THINGS

Demonstrative Pronouns + BE + Information


Since the questions are using the Chinese Pronouns Verb To Be Shì, reply with the same Chinese Demonstrative Pronoun.

This is my clothes.
That is my clothes.
These are the things that I want to use for tomorrow.
Those are yesterday leftover food.

这是我的衣服。
那是你的衣服。
这些是我明天要用的东西。
那些是昨天剩下的饭菜。

Zhè shì wǒ de yī fú.
Nà shì nǐ de yī fú.
Zhè xiē shì wǒ míng tiān yào yòng de dōng xī.
Nà xiē shì zuó tiān shèng xià de fàn cài.

 

From Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns to Adverbs: Here and There

We will go a bit further to modify the Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns from

  • This is  Zhè shì” and “That is  shì

to become Chinese Adverbs

  • Here  Zhè” and “There ”.

Locational Preposition  Zài in Adverbs

Zài is a Chinese locational preposition which means “at/in“. Although the English sentences above do not require a preposition for location, we still place the word  Zài before the adverb “Here 这里” and “There 那里”.

Make a comparison to the 4 sentences above. What has changed? Notice that the word order has changed. Now, the Chinese Possessive Determiners and the nouns begin at the start of the sentences. The Chinese Adverbs will move to the end of the sentences.

My clothes are here.
Your clothes are there.
The things that I want to use tomorrow are here.
Yesterday leftover food is there.

我的衣服在这里。
你的衣服在那里。
我明天要用的东西在这里。
昨天剩下的饭菜在那里。

Wǒ de yī fú zài zhè lǐ.
Nǐ de yī fú zài nà lǐ.
Wǒ míng tiān yào yòng de dōng xī zài zhè lǐ.
Zuó tiān shèng xià de fàn cài zài nà lǐ.



 

Questions about PEOPLE

It is worth noting that when you ask questions with What in Chinese – 什么 Shén me (这是什么?), it is only referring to things and not people. For people, use:-

什么 + 人 Rén (Person/People) = 什么人


这个/ 些是什么人?may sound rude as many Chinese people use this sentence with an irritating tone when they are not happy to see somebody or feel suspicious of them.

Alternatively, it is better to use an Interrogative Pronoun – Who  Shéi together with the Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns to ask questions relating to people.

Who is this (person, man, child etc.)?
Who is that?
Who are these (people, women, children etc.)?
Who are those?

这是谁?/ 这个是谁?/ 这(个)是什么人?
那是谁?/ 那个是谁?/ 那(个)是什么人?
这些是谁?/ 这些是什么人?
那些是谁?/ 那些是什么人?

Zhè shì shéi? / Zhè ge shì shéi? / Zhè (gè) shì shén me rén?
Nà shì shéi? / Nà gè shì shéi? / Nà (gè) shì shén me rén?
Zhè xiē shì shéi? / Zhè xiē shì shén me rén?
Nà xiē shì shéi? / Nà xiē shì shén me rén?

 

Answers about PEOPLE

This is my boyfriend. / This one is my girlfriend.
That is my husband. / That one is my wife.
These are our children.
Those are my colleagues.

这是我的男朋友。/ 这个是我的女朋友。
那是我的丈夫。/ 那个是我的老婆 。
这些是我们的孩子。
那些是我的同事们。

Zhè shì wǒ de nán péng yǒu. / Zhè ge shì wǒ de nǚ péng yǒu.
Nà shì wǒ de zhàng fū. / Nà gè shì wǒ de lǎo pó.
Zhè xiē shì wǒ men de hái zi.
Nà xiē shì wǒ de tóng shì men.



 

Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns Replacing Nouns and Phrases

A primary function of the Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns is to replace nouns or noun phrases that have been previously mentioned in a conversation to avoid repetition.

Hence, the 4 Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns acts as a contracted form of replacement similar to English. The Singular Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns can also mean “it” in English.

The underlined words below are illustrations of noun/noun phrase replaced by Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns. The next consideration is to replace with “this/these” or “that/those”. Apply the same concept of relative distance in your mind.

This is not mine. That is in fact mine.

这个不是我的。那个才是我的。
Zhè ge bù shì wǒ de. Nà gè cái shì wǒ de.


Do you know these people? This one and that one, you have to be more careful.

你认识那些人吗?这个那个,你要小心一点。
Nǐ rèn shì nà xiē rén ma? Zhè genà gè, nǐ yào xiǎo xīn yī diǎn.


This pair of pants looks good, that pair of pants looks good too. This one looks better than that one.

这条裤子很好看。那条裤子也很好看。这条那条好看。/ 这个那个好看。

Zhè tiáo kù zi hěn hǎo kàn. Nà tiáo kù zi yě hěn hǎo kàn. Zhè tiáonà tiáo hǎo kàn. / Zhè genà gè hǎo kàn.


What do you want to eat?
(Pointing to the food/menu) This one! / That is the one!

你想吃什么?
就这个吧!/ 就那个吧!

Nǐ xiǎng chī shén me?
Jiù zhè ge ba! / Jiù nà gè ba!


Do you like this movie today or the one (that) yesterday?
I prefer the (that) movie yesterday and not this one.

你喜欢今天的这部电影,还是昨天的那部
我比较喜欢昨天的那部电影,不喜欢这个

Nǐ xǐ huān jīn tiān de zhè bù diàn yǐng, hái shì zuó tiān de nà bù?
Wǒ bǐ jiào xǐ huān zuó tiān de nà bù diàn yǐng, bù xǐ huān zhè ge.

 

Use “This / These” Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns as Replacements When…

A subject has just been mentioned. You continue to elaborate OR give a reply to the same thing or person without repeating the noun phrase.


 

Learning Chinese is too difficult!
This (one) is not difficult. I teach you.

学中文太难了!
这(个)不难。我教你。

Xué zhōng wén tài nán le!
Zhè (gè) bù nán. Wǒ jiào nǐ.


I agree with your ideas. These are doable.

我赞成你的看法这些是行得通的。
Wǒ zàn chéng nǐ de kàn fǎ. Zhè xiē shì xíng dé tōng de.


Who do you think is the prettiest in the photo?
(Pointing to a person) I think this one is fine.

你觉得谁在照片里最漂亮
我觉得这个还可以。

Nǐ jué dé shéi zài zhào piàn lǐ zuì piào liang?
Wǒ jué dé zhè ge hái kě yǐ.


Do you live happily in your life? Is this what you want?

生活的开心吗?这是你想要的吗?
Nǐ shēng huó de kāi xīn ma? Zhè shì nǐ xiǎng yào de ma?

 

Use “That / Those” Chinese Demonstrative Pronouns as Replacements When…

  • An incident took place long ago.
  • A concept that has not happened;
  • A wish or presumption of a statement that is perhaps unattainable.

I have been hurt before, but that was a long time ago.

曾经受过伤害,不过那是很久以前的事了。
céng jīng shòu guò shāng hài, bù guò nà shì hěn jiǔ yǐ qián de shì le.


I hope to be rich in the future. That seems very far.

希望以后能发财似乎很遥远。
xī wàng yǐ hòu néng fā cái. sì hū hěn yáo yuǎn.


I just saw some folders on the table. Are those yours?

我刚才在桌子上看到几份文件夹那些是你的吗?
Wǒ gāng cái zài zhuō zi shàng kàn dào jǐ fèn wén jiàn jiā. Nà xiē shì nǐ de ma?


Beautiful cars and women are said to be the two big dreams of men. Who does not want to have those?

香车美女可说是男人两大梦想。谁不想拥有那些
Xiāng chē měi nǚ kě shuō shì nán rén liǎng dà mèng xiǎng. Shéi bù xiǎng yǒng yǒu nà xiē?



Figurative Distance Where “This” or “That” Can Be Used

For the first sentence below, if you are riding a bicycle at that moment, you would mention “this” – 这是我的最爱 to stress your liking at that point. If you are just talking to someone, using “that” might imply that the interest was in the past.

I like riding a bicycle very much. That is my favourite!

我超爱骑自行车。那是我的最爱!
Wǒ chāo ài qí zì xíng chē. Nà shì wǒ de zuì ài!


Miss Chen is very friendly. This (that) is why everybody likes her.

陈小姐很友善,这就是为什么人人都喜欢她。
Chén xiǎo jiě hěn yǒu shàn, zhè jiù shì wèi shé me rén rén dōu xǐ huān tā.


Don’t mention it. The moment I think of it (that/this), I get angry.

别说了。一提起那个我就生气。
Bié shuō le. Yī tí qǐ nà gè wǒ jiù shēng qì.


Marriage?! That is impossible.

结婚?! 那是不可能的事。
Jié hūn?! Nà shì bù kě néng de shì.


Thank you for doing these for me all these years! 

谢谢你那么多年为我付出这些!
Xiè xiè nǐ nà me duō nián wèi wǒ fù chū zhè xiē!


Heard that the boss wanted to increase the salary. If it (this/that) is true, that would be great!

听说老板要加薪。如果这是真的,那太好了!
Tīng shuō lǎo bǎn yào jiā xīn. Rú guǒ zhè shì zhēn de, nà tài hǎo le!


I am afraid of ghosts. I am scared of those dirty things.
Why be afraid of those? Human is more frightening.

我怕鬼。我怕那些脏东西。
那些有什么好怕的呀?人类比较可怕。

Wǒ pà guǐ. Wǒ pà nà xiē zàng dōng xī.
Nà xiē yǒu shé me hǎo pà de ya? Rén lèi bǐ jiào kě pà.

 

Conclusion

You do not have to be too bothered whether you are using the correct term to replace a noun or noun phrase. Using this, these, that, those are merely a concept of thinking and suggests a figurative distance of the state of thought rather than a Chinese grammar.

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