Posts Tagged '他俩'

Does Mandarin have dual pronouns?

Am I way off base in my analysis here, or does Chinese have dual pronouns that they just don’t ever teach you?  Since Mandarin has a perfectly good distinction between inclusive we (咱们/zánmen) and exclusive we (我们/wǒmen)–which I also have yet to come across in a textbook–I guess it shouldn’t surprise so much if other pronouns pop up too.

The words in question:

咱俩(zánliǎ) ‘we two, inclusive’–or more naturally, the two of us (you and me)

你俩(nǐliǎ) ‘you two’

他俩(tāliǎ) ‘they two’

So, are these words pronouns?  They are single words, as best as I can tell.  They sure look like pronouns to me.  But then why don’t they show up in any of the nice charts of Chinese pronouns I recall seeing?  I suppose it may be because their use isn’t obligatory–as far as I know, I can use 咱们/zánmen to refer to just you and me and no one else.  For that matter, I’ve used 我们/wǒmen plenty of times with this intended meaning, and no one seemed to be confused by it–maybe because not all dialects of Mandarin actually use 咱们/zánmen.  The other possibility is that they’re not actually pronouns–but if not, what are they?

For the record (these claims always get me in trouble, but I’m going to go ahead and say it anyway): there is no first person dual exclusive  pronoun–that is, there’s no such word as 我俩 (wǒliǎ).  If it did exist, it would mean something like the two of us (s/he and I, not you).  But it doesn’t exist.

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