How do you distinguish 他 and 她

I do know that 他 is male (his, him) while 她 is female (Her's, she) but from I know they have the same tone so I'm just wondering how you distinguish the two.

I mean it's obvious what it is when it's written down but when your talking it sounds the same..

August 22, 2019


there is no distinction between them when talking, you have to know by context

August 22, 2019

they are exaclty the same

August 22, 2019

Certain grammatical distinction are only important in certain languages. for many languages, gender is very important distinction. they even end up attributing a gender to everything in the universe. seriously, what is the point? but that's how those language systems work.

But in chinese, gender is not a grammatical distinction, there is no distinguishing of 他,她 and 它(it) in spoken Chinese or any other items in the universe. if necessary, the gender of the mentioned party would arise at some places in the conversation. treating the gender of the person just as another piece of information and not letting them influence the choice of words.

when you are talking to chinese people in english, a lot of the time you would find them misuse he or she. using she to refer to a man or using he to refer to a woman. it might suggest they don't consider the gender of the person when they are speaking. this might be the evidence for linguistic relativity. our language is in some way shaping how we think.

August 22, 2019

i will not comment on duolingo chinese platform anymore. as a native chinese speaker, and as a student of linguistics, i thought i am here to contribute to the chinese learning community, and pay back in some way to duolingo. but after i get downvotes repeatedly on this particular forum. i don't think i feel that pleasantly among this community any more.

by the way, i would say my comment, though it is just my half cooked surmise, is relevant to the question. i don't see why it would offend so many people.

August 23, 2019

I didn't downvote you, but I understand why someone might have. Why take an unnecessary jab at other languages? I am a native speaker of Spanish, and gender is important in the language. It carries information, just like tones carry information in Chinese. Languages don't have these features for no reason, it's not like people want to make life hard for themselves.

August 24, 2019

她 is a rather new character, invented in the 20th century for gender equality if I'm not mistaken. You'll still encounter 他 for females, especially in Taiwan.

You'll sometimes also see 妳 (female you).

In summary,

妳 and 她 can only refer to women

你 can refer to both genders

他 can technically refer to both genders but is usually used for men

August 22, 2019

I didn't know that, and I really appreciate that you shared it

August 23, 2019

General writing "他" (do not know gender or explicitly refer to male) Clearly refers to female writing "她" A group of people use "他们" unless they are all women”她们“.

August 26, 2019
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