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How to say “other people” in Chinese?

Jan. 20, 2021

人家 and 别人: Are these just two ways to say “other people”?

Both “人家(rénjiā) ” and “别人(biérén) ” can refer to other people besides the speaker and the listener.

Examples:

xiǎo diǎn shēng, búyào yǐngxiǎng rénjiā xiūxi.
小点声,不要影响人家休息。
Keep your voice down, don’t disturb (other) people’s rest.

xiǎo diǎn shēng, búyào yǐngxiǎng biérén xiūxi.
小点声,不要影响别人休息。
Keep your voice down, don’t disturb (other) people’s rest.

“别人(biérén) ” sometimes means other people, i.e. everyone except the speaker and the listener.

Example:

jiā lǐ chúle mǔqīn hé wǒ, méiyǒu biérén le.
家里除了母亲和我,没有别人了。
There is no one else in the house except my mother and me.

One usage of “人家 (rénjiā)” is to mean “him/her” or “them”, referring to specific people or a specific person.

Examples:

Xiǎo Míng de hànyǔ shuō de hěn hǎo! wǒmen yīnggāi xiàng rénjiā xuéxí.
小明的汉语说得很好!我们应该向人家学习。
Xiao Ming speaks Chinese very well! We should learn from him.

In this case “人家(rénjiā)” refers to “Xiǎo Míng”.

Another usage of “人家(rénjiā)” is to refer to the speaker herself – i.e. “me” or “I”. When used in this way, it is more intimate and is more often used by young women.

Example:

nǐ jiào rénjiā guòlái wán, yòu bù lǐ rénjiā, nǐ zhè shì shénme yìsi?
你叫人家过来玩,又不理人家,你这是什么意思?
You ask me to come and play but then you ignore me, what’s up with that?

HSK 3 quiz

Please choose the best answer to fill in the blank.

A.人家(rénjiā)
B.别人(biérén)

1.________dōu zǒule, nǐ wèishéme bù zǒu?
________都走了,你为什么不走?

2.nǐ màn yìdiǎn xíng bù xíng,________gēn bù shàng ma!
你慢一点行不行,________跟不上嘛!

3.jiàoshì lǐ chúle wǒ, méi yǒu________le.
教室里除了我,没有________了。

4.Xiǎo Míng fēicháng zìlǜ. wǒmen yīnggāi xiàng________xuéxí.
小明非常自律。我们应该向________学习。

See Answer Analysis

You May Want to Learn More:

How to express different levels of understanding: 理解 VS 了解

When and How to Use “不 (Bù)” and “没 (Méi)” for Negative Meaning

“那儿(nàr)” vs. “哪儿(nǎr)” – Which One Should I Use?

HSK 1 quiz

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