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“哥们儿(gēmenr)”- Not Brothers but Just Like Brothers

Oct. 8, 2014

If you have been to northern cities in China such as Beijing and Tianjin, you must be familiar with the following oral expressions: “爷们儿(yémenr),” “姐们儿(jiěmenr),” and “哥们儿(gēmenr).” Actually, these expressions have nothing to do with grandpa, sister or brother as the names might suggest. Rather, they are all colloquial words used in daily communication. At first, they were frequently used in Northern China. Nowadays, they are popular all around China. If you throw out these terms when talking you will really sound like a native Chinese speaker, so let’s get to them now.


“爷们儿(yémenr)” is a noun which refers to a man who is masculine or macho. Usually, this type of man is powerful, straightforward, and reliable. He never acts emotionally. The term could also be used as an adjective to describe this kind of person. Nowadays, people who are considered to be “爷们儿(yémenr)” are quite popular with the ladies. Many young women even set it as a standard for choosing a boyfriend.


Tā kànqǐlái tǐng yémenr de,   méixiǎngdào zuòshì zhème pópomāmā.
他 看起来   挺    爷们儿 的, 没    想到      做事    这么     婆婆妈妈。
He seemed so masculine. I never thought he would act like such a sissy.


Nǐ zěnme zhème xiǎoqì, shì bú shì gè yémenr?
你 怎么     这么    小气,是  不  是  个   爷们儿?
You are so mean. Are you a man?



When you regard someone as your “哥们儿(gēmenr),” you think of him as an extremely close friend, like a brother. Thus, we use “哥们儿(gēmenr)” to describe good male friends. Also, it could be used as an adjective to describe people who are loyal to their friends.


Tā hé tā  de gēmenr yìqǐ   hējiǔ   qù le .
他  和 他 的   哥们儿 一起   喝酒   去 了。
He went out with his boys for a drink.


We also use “铁哥们儿(tiě gēmenr)” to describe a faithful pal. “铁(tiě)" literally means “iron,” but in this term it implies that the relation is “unshakable.”


Zhè shì wǒ cóng xiǎo wánr dào dà de tiě gēmenr.
这    是  我  从      小   玩儿  到   大 的 铁 哥们儿。
This guy has been my buddy since childhood.



The meaning of “姐们儿(jiěmenr)” is the same as that of “哥们儿(gēmenr),” while it refers to very close female friends. It also simply means “girl” in Chinese.


Zhè jiěmenr zhēn piàoliang, nǐ rènshi tā ma?
这    姐们儿    真     漂亮,   你 认识   她 吗?
This girl is so beautiful. Do you know her?


Wǒ de hǎo jiěmenr jīntiān guò shēngrì, wǒ yào sòng shénme lǐwù  ne?
我   的  好   姐们儿 今天   过    生日,    我  要    送    她  什么    礼物 呢?
It’s my close female friend’s birthday today. What gift should I get for her?



1. Jack’s friends consider him a “爷们儿(yémenr).” It is probably because Jack is:

A. A man who is straightforward and masculine.

B. A man who is like his grandfather.

C. A man who is old.

2. “王平和陈伟是哥们儿。(Wáng Píng hé Chén Wěi shì gēmenr.)” What can we know from this sentence?

A. Wang Ping and Chen Wei are brothers.

B. Wang Ping and Chen Wei are good friends.

C. Wang Ping and Chen Wei are cousins.

3. 刘红:“这是我姐们儿,刘丽。(Zhè shì wǒ jiěmenr, Líu Lì)” What is the relationship between Liu Li and Liu Hong?

A. Liu Hong is Liu Li’s elder sister.

B. They are cousins.

C. Liu Li is Liu Hong’s good pal.

See Answers

Chinese Popular Words (Fun Stuff)

HSK Test

General Chinese (Beginner Level)

General Chinese (Intermediate Level)


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