Chinese Pronouns

Chinese Reflexive Pronouns: Myself in Chinese – Ziji 自己, Ben Shen 本身 and Ben Ren 本人



Chinese Reflexive Pronouns

Myself in Chinese – 自己 Ziji, 本身 Ben Shen and 本人 Ben Ren

In Mandarin, there are also Chinese Reflexive Pronouns – 自己 Zìjǐ, 本身 Běnshēn and 本人 Běnrén. They mean selfoneself, itself or rather, myself in Chinese.

In many cases, adding Chinese Reflexive Pronoun 自己 Zìjǐ is necessary to form a complete sentence such as “Protect yourself保护自己. In other contexts, the additional word of 自己 Zìjǐ is to emphasise on the subject mentioned.

In short, the word 自己 can also be made redundant in the sentences and still be correct after all - 自己都不想去,怎么会叫他去? | I, myself do not want to go, why would I want him to go?

We can substitute the word 自己 Zìjǐ with the term 本身 Běnshēn in some sentences. There are exceptions where words which are reflexive by nature, such as “Protect yourself | 保护自己” is not replaceable by “本身“. In summary, we do not say “保护本身” because it is the wrong use of the reflexive verb.


The table below will show you a generic placement of the words after the Subject Pronouns.

Table of English Reflexive Pronouns List

Subject PronounsReflexive Pronouns
IMyself
YouYourself
HeHimself
SheHerself
ItItself
WeOurselves
You (Plural)Yourselves
TheyThemselves

 

Table of Chinese Reflexive Pronouns List

Subject Pronoun + Reflexive Pronoun

 

Subject PronounsReflexive Pronouns
我自己, 我本身
你,您你自己, 你本身, 您自己, 您本身
他自己, 他本身
她自己, 她本身
它自己, 它本身
我们我们自己, 我们本身
你们你们自己, 你们本身
他们他们自己, 他们本身
她们她们自己, 她们本身
它们它们自己, 它们本身



 

Chinese Reflexive Pronouns with Ziji 自己

Here are some Chinese Reflexive Pronouns with 自己 Zìjǐ that are very commonly used by the Chinese people when giving advises to others or as a reminder to oneself.

Protect oneself.
In a relationship, learn to protect yourself and not have too much hurt.

保护自己。
在感情上,要学着保护自己,不要受太多伤害。

Bǎo hù zì jǐ.
Zài gǎn qíng shàng, yào xué zhe bǎo hù zì jǐ, bù yào shòu tài duō shāng hài.


Take care of oneself.
When you are living overseas, remember to take care of yourself.

照顾自己。
你在国外住,记得照顾自己。

Zhào gù zì jǐ.
Nǐ zài guó wài zhù, jì dé zhào gù zì jǐ.


Be yourself.
Why live for others? Be yourself.

做回自己。
何必为别人而活?做回自己。

Zuò huí zì jǐ.
Hé bì wèi bié rén ér huó? Zuò huí zì jǐ.


Take care of one’s image.
Over there, do not talk nonsense. Take care of your image.

顾自己形象。
在那里,不要胡说八道,要顾自己形象。

Gù zì jǐ xíng xiàng.
Zài nà lǐ, bù yào hú shuō bā dào, yào gù zì jǐ xíng xiàng.


Do not care about oneself.
I do not care about myself. I care most about you (feeling related sentence).

不在乎自己。
我不在乎自己,最在乎的是你。

Bù zài hū zì jǐ.
Wǒ bù zài hū zì jǐ, zuì zài hū de shì nǐ.


Grudge oneself.
As a person, why do you have to make yourself suffer?

委屈自己。
做人何必委屈自己?

Wěi qu zì jǐ.
Zuò rén hé bì wěi qu zì jǐ?



 

Chinese Reflexive Pronouns with 自己 Ziji or 本身 Ben Shen

The sentences below can use either自己 Zìjǐ本身 Běnshēn or both at the same time to further strengthen the emphasis of oneself. This interchanging of both the word order position is possible only when they come directly after the pronouns or the subject.

Pronouns / Subject + 自己 / 本身 + Information

 

*In such sentence construction, the Chinese reflexive pronouns can be dropped too. Grammatically, it is correct since the Chinese Reflexive Pronouns only act as a supplemental emphasis on the mentioned subject.

I, myself do not like to go to his house, how would I ask you (plural) to go?

我自己都不喜欢去他家,怎么可能叫你们去?
我本身都不喜欢去他家,怎么可能叫你们去?

Wǒ zì jǐ dōu bù xǐ huān qù tā jiā, zěn me kě néng jiào nǐ men qù?
Wǒ běn shēn dōu bù xǐ huān qù tā jiā, zěn me kě néng jiào nǐ men qù?


You, yourself are a Chinese teacher and do not need someone to teach your children Mandarin.

你自己是个中文老师,不需要请别人来教你的孩子中文。
你本身是个中文老师,不需要请别人来教你的孩子中文。

Nǐ zìjǐ shì gè zhōng wén lǎo shī, bù xū yào qǐng bié rén lái jiào nǐ de hái zi zhōng wén.
Nǐ běn shēn shì gè zhōng wén lǎo shī, bù xū yào qǐng bié rén lái jiào nǐ de hái zi zhōng wén.


They, themselves know what to do.

他们自己知道该怎么做。
他们本身知道该怎么做。

Tā men zì jǐ zhī dào gāi zěn me zuò.
Tā men běn shēn zhī dào gāi zěn me zuò.


My mother is a very thrifty person.

我妈妈自己是个很节俭的人。
我妈妈本身是个很节俭的人。

Wǒ mā mā zì jǐ shì gè hěn jié jiǎn de rén.
Wǒ mā mā běn shēn shì gè hěn jié jiǎn de rén.

 

Bear in mind that both the pronouns are not in a fixed position. The words can be split up into a sentence most of the times. The next section will demonstrate this.

Chinese Reflexive Pronouns with 自己 Ziji  + Action Verb

When the Chinese Reflexive Pronouns have placed away from the Subject/Subject Pronouns (unlike the above) and accompanied by an action verb, the placement of自己Zìjǐ becomes mandatory in the Chinese sentence to form a complete sentence.

Pronouns / Subject + Info + 自己 + Verb + Info

 

From the sentences below, we do not use 本身Běnshēn as a substitute for 自己 Zìjǐ as it is not correct. On the contrary, there are many instances where 本身 could be used to replace 自己. I would say it takes some time for one to figure out at a higher Chinese level when we should deploy 本身 in the right sense.

Every day, the children walk to school by themselves (without accompany).

孩子们每天自己走去学校。
Hái zi men měi tiān zì jǐ zǒu qù xué xiào.


We travel and pay our own.

我们出国旅行是自己还钱的。
Wǒ men chū guó lǚ xíng shì zì jǐ hái qián de.


In order for practice speaking Chinese, I speak to myself.

为了练习讲中文,我对着自己说话。
Wèi le liàn xí jiǎng zhōng wén, wǒ duì zhe zì jǐ shuō huà.


The work efficiency in the organisation starts from oneself.

团体的工作效率要从自己做起。
团体的工作效率要从本身做起。
团体的工作效率要从自己本身做起。

Tuán tǐ de gōng zuò xiào lǜ yào cóng zì jǐ zuò qǐ.
Tuán tǐ de gōng zuò xiào lǜ yào cóng běn shēn zuò qǐ.
Tuán tǐ de gōng zuò xiào lǜ yào cóng zì jǐ běn shēn zuò qǐ.

 

Notice that the last sentence above uses both the two terms together? It is also very commonly used by the Chinese to highlight the point of “oneself”.


自己 Ziji  = Own / Possession

When making references to self-possession with the English word “own +_(noun)_“, 自己 Zìjǐ is used often with the word “的 de” after it, then followed by a noun. For such examples, do not use “本身 Běnshēn” because the word does not mean “own”.

自己 +  + Noun

 

The importance of “ de” also expresses other forms of possession such as the use of ‘My _(noun)_’ and ‘Mine’. Read more about Possessive Determiners and Possessive Pronouns with “De 的”.

I hide in the room to do my own things.

我整天躲在房间里,做自己的事。
Wǒ zhěng tiān duǒ zài fáng jiān lǐ, zuò zì jǐ de shì.


She returned to her own house. (Means the person may be staying in more than one place and now, she is returning to her original residence)

她回自己的家去。
Tā huí zì jǐ de jiā qù.


You (plural) pack up your own stuff, tomorrow we are leaving here.

你们收拾一下自己的东西,明天我们离开这里。
Nǐ men shōu shí yī xià zì jǐ de dōng xī, míng tiān wǒ men lí kāi zhè lǐ.


Your own homework, do it yourself. Do not ask someone to do for you.

自己的功课自己做,不要叫别人帮你做。
Zì jǐ de gōng kè zì jǐ zuò, bù yào jiào bié rén bāng nǐ zuò.


Literally: All of us are our ‘own people’. Why be calculative? (Slang: Meaning from the same boat / same group / same association / same family)

我们大家都是自己人, 何必计较?
Wǒ men dà jiā dōu shì zì jǐ rén, hé bì jì jiào?

 

The last sentence above is an exception (without the use of de) as it is a Chinese slang frequently used among the Chinese themselves to denote familiarity. It is more difficult to express it in English with the exact sentence except for a literal translation and for you to get a feel of it.


本身 Benshen and 自己 Ziji = Itself

As you can read from the first set of examples above, 本身 Běnshēn and 自己 Zìjǐ are not only for people but also to express non-living things and concepts as “itself“.

The article itself is rich in content.

这篇文章本身内容丰富。
Zhè piān wén zhāng běn shēn nèi róng fēng fù.


The design of the house itself has many flaws.

屋子的设计本身有很多缺点。
Wū zi de shè jì běn shēn yǒu hěn duō quē diǎn.


Life itself is complicated, interesting and exciting.

生活本身就是复杂、有趣和刺激。
Shēng huó běn shēn jiù shì fù zá, yǒu qù hé cì jī.


What are the characteristics of the 12 horoscope signs?

十二星座本身的特质是什么?
Shí’èr xīng zuò běn shēn de tè zhì shì shén me?


When the fruits are riped, they will drop down from the trees by themselves.

水果熟了,自己会从树上掉下来。
Shuǐ guǒ shú le, zì jǐ huì cóng shù shàng diào xià lái.


The balloon burst by itself.

气球自己破了。
Qì qiú zì jǐ pò le.


How can the table walk by itself?

桌子自己怎么会走?
Zhuō zǐ zì jǐ zěn me huì zǒu?


本人 Benren – Formal Word for Myself or Oneself

本人 | Běnrén is deemed as a more formal word for emphasising ‘oneself‘ or ‘myself‘ and not frequently heard in casual conversation. Some examples are situations where one is making a guarantee of something, reassurance or referring to someone of higher authority.

When one uses 本人 Běnrén, it gives individuality or perhaps, a feeling of isolation while trying to assert one’s point of view. It is best to avoid using this word for Chinese beginner level if you are not sure how to deploy it correctly.

When expressed in the wrong situation, it might create a sense of overestimation of oneself and can sound awkward. Imagine saying the sentence with 本人 Běnrén to your supervisor or boss, he might wonder who has a higher authority? You or him?

I, myself promise all of you not to deduct your salary.

我本人向你们保证,不会扣除你们的薪金。
Wǒ běn rén xiàng nǐ men bǎo zhèng, bù huì kòu chú nǐ men de xīn jīn.


The person who said all these is our boss.

说这番话的人,就是我们老板本人了。
Shuō zhè fān huà de rén, jiù shì wǒ men lǎo bǎn běn rén le.


The CEO personally promised to give me more opportunities to perform.

总裁本人答应我, 会多给我机会表现。
Zǒng cái běn rén dā yīng wǒ, huì duō gěi wǒ jī huì biǎo xiàn.


I adhere to my standpoint. Hence, I will not apologise to her.

我本人坚持我的立场,所以我不会向她道歉。
Wǒ běn rén jiān chí wǒ de lì chǎng, suǒ yǐ wǒ bù huì xiàng tā dào qiàn.


Both parties have to arrive on the spot to sign in order for the registration process to be valid.

双方本人必须到场签字,登记流程才有效。
Shuāng fāng běn rén bì xū dào chǎng qiān zì, dēng jì liú chéng cái yǒu xiào.

 

Similar to the Chinese Reflexive Pronouns, the next post will show you the use of “Personally and Individually – 亲自 qin zi,亲手 qin shou,亲身 qin shen and 个人 ge ren“.

 

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