(#20) Who / 谁

To say ‘who’, the chinese word is 谁, however you will find that the pronunciation is interesting. We are usually taught that it is pronounced as shui2, but in daily life we actually pronounced it as shei2.

But for simplicity’s sake, I will use shui2 in the explaination in this blog, but like said, it is more likely to be pronounced as shei2 in our daily life, so please do remember the pronunciation shei2 as well.

One bad news.  谁 shui2 may be a simple word, but the usage in chinese is a little hard to predict. I’ll list as many examples as I can and hopefully you can remember some of the common ones.

喂, 请问你找? wei2, qing3 wen4 ni3 zhao3 shui2? Hallo, can I ask who are you looking for?

这个杯子是打破的?zhe4 ge4 bei1 zi3 shi4 shui2 da3 po4 de4? [Directly translated] This glass, by whom is it broken by?
In such scenarios, the word order is noun+interrogative pronoun+verb.

Actually you can say 打破这个杯子? shui2 da3 po4 zhe4 ge4 bei1 zi3? Who broke this glass?
It will be interrogative pronoun+verb+noun in this case. It gets the message across, but honestly, it is a little unnatural.

你是ni3 shi4 shui2? Who are you?

说的?shui2 shuo1 de4? Who said so? / Says who?

? zhao3 shui2? Who are you looking for?

你是我的ni3 shi4 wo3 de4 shui3? Who are you to me?

New Vocabulary:

  • 杯子 bei1 zi3 drinking glass
  • 打破 da3 po4 break Can only be used for items such as cups, plates, drinking glasses, pots etc, where the broken parts are shards. Cannot used this word for items such as toys, limbs, heart etc. However, it can be used on abstract terms, similar to break the silence 打破沉默 da3 po4 chen2 mo4, break the tension 打破僵局 da3 po4 jiang1 ju2.
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