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Answer to How Should I Address Chinese Young Women?

Mar. 26, 2015

Correct Answer: B

In China, people use various terms to address others depending on the person and the situation. Choosing the appropriate form shows your sense of charm and respect to others. So how do you address Chinese women, and when is each term appropriate? The following text will explain it all.


Chinese people often use “姑娘(gū’niang)” to address young and unmarried girls. You can also say “小姑娘(xiǎo gū’niang) young girl/ little girl.”

However, nowadays, it is employed chiefly by elders as an endearing term.


Gū’niang, qǐngwèn Tiān’ānmén guǎngchǎng zěnme zǒu?
姑娘,        请问         天安门         广场         怎么   走?
Young lady, how can I get to Tian’anmen Square?

Wáng shūshu: Xiǎo gū’niang, nǐ jīnnián jǐsuì le?
王         叔叔: 小     姑娘,  你  今年  几岁 了?
Uncle Wang: How old are you, little girl?

Judy: Wǒ jīnnián qīsuì le.
Judy:我   今年  七岁 了。
Judy: I’m seven years old.


Literally, “小姐(xiǎojiě)” means “miss.” In old times, people typically addressed young girls as “小姐(xiǎojiě),” but nowadays it is considered old-fashioned. This word has actually become a synonym for “prostitute,” and is usually used in bars and pubs rather than in daily life. You may notice that some people hesitate to use this word in some contexts, so please do not address a woman as “小姐(xiǎojiě) miss,” or the lady you are addressing might take it the wrong way.

Though using the term on its own may give off the wrong meaning, Chinese people do commonly use “小姐(xiǎojiě)” along with someone’s last name, such as “王小姐(Wáng xiǎojǐe) Miss Wang,” “张小姐(Zhāng xiǎojǐe) Miss Zhang,” and “刘小姐(Liúxiǎojǐe) Miss Liu,” without any negative connotations.

If you want to get more information about addressing Chinese women, please take a look at the article “Don’t Call Me “Xiaojie.”


Jīntiān shì Wáng xiānsheng hé Zhāng xiǎojǐe jiéhūn de rìzi.
今天     是   王       先生      和     张     小姐   结婚  的 日子。
Today is the day that Mr. Wang and Miss Zhang are getting married.

Qǐngwèn nǐ shì Liú xiǎojǐe ma?
请问        你 是 刘   小姐  吗?
Excuse me, are you Miss Liu?


“女士(nǚshì)” is more often used to address married women or older ladies, but it is also a word that you want to use when you’re trying to create a personal connection or on an official occasion. If you want to show your politeness, you can also use it to address a woman whose marital status or age you do not know. One more thing worth nothing is that Chinese people use this term more often in writing than in speaking.


Zhè wèi nǚshì, nín de shǒujī diào le.
这    位  女士,您  的  手机   掉  了。
Excuse me, madam. You dropped your phone.

Wǒmen gōngsī de dǒngshìzhǎng shì yìmíng nǚshì.
我们        公司   的       董事长      是   一名   女士。
The chairman of our company is a woman.

Nǚshì men, xiānsheng men, dàjiā wǎnshàng hǎo!
女士     们,  先生        们,大家    晚上       好!
Ladies and gentlemen, good evening!


Sometimes, when a person wishes to compliment a woman on her appearance, the term “美女(měinǚ) beauty” can be used. Even if a young lady is not the most beautiful, this term is a kind, sweet way to address her, though it is not to be mistaken with flirting. These days in China, “美女(měinǚ) beauty” is more and more widely used to address a girl in an informal situation.


Měinǚ, qǐngwèn lí  zhèr zuìjìn de kāfēitīng zài nǎlǐ?
美女,    请问   离 这儿 最近 的   咖啡厅  在 哪里?
Beauty, where is the nearest cafeteria?

Jack: Měinǚ, xiàbān hòu yìqǐ dǎ yǔmáo qiú ba!
Jack:美女,下班    后  一起 打  羽毛   球 吧!
Jack: Beauty, let’s play badminton together after work.

Lǐ Huá: Hǎode!
李 华:好的!
Li Hua: OK!

In our test, only the term小姐(xiǎojiě) can take on a negative meaning in China when used to address a woman, so the correct answer is B.

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