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To Be “单身 (Dānshēn) Single” or Not to Be Single? That Is the Question!

Feb. 2, 2018

Chinese General single

Are you still single? You’re not the only one. In China more and more people are choosing to remain “单身 (dānshēn) single.” In fact, the number of single people in China has reached 200 million. So what’s the reason? There are a few, actually:

1. 性别失衡 (Xìngbié shīhéng) Gender Imbalance.

Chinese General gender

Do you know about China’s one-child policy? It limited the number of girls that were allowed to be born in China. This law stems from the traditional Chinese culture perspective that boys are considered to be more valuable to the family and to the society, whereas girls are shunned.

2. 钱 (Qián) Money.

Chinese General money

When men and women in China are dating, money is definitely an issue. For men in particular it is important for them to take their own income into consideration before choosing a spouse. For women, they are in search of men who are financially stable. When it comes to most families in China, if a man doesn’t have a car, a house, and a stable job, he would not be eligible, or “单身 (dānshēn) single” women would not be encouraged to marry this man. But this economic expectation stands in stark contrast to the fact that it is difficult for young people in China to buy these things. Often they rely on their parents to support them.

3. 受高等教育的女性增加 (Shòu gāoděng jiàoyù de nǚxìng zēngjiā) An Increasing Highly-Educated Female Population.

Chinese General famale

More and more women in China are becoming highly-educated, attending University and graduating with master’s and post-doctorate degrees. These women are trying to find a spouse who has an equal level or higher educational background. But those men are increasingly more difficult to find!

4. 结婚费用高 (Jiéhūn fèiyòng gāo) Getting Married Is Expensive.

Chinese General wedding

Weddings aren’t cheap. You can see a great example of that by looking up Inside Chinese Star, Angelababy’s $31 million wedding in Shanghai. So the fact that young people are having to rely more and more on their parents doesn’t make the idea of a wedding sound easy to handle, financially-speaking.

Ready to learn some vocab related to this topic? Let’s go!

单身 (dānshēn): single, unmarried, live alone.

When you break these characters down, the meaning you get is:
单 (dān): only, sole, single.

身 (shēn): body, torso.

So how do you use this word in a sentence?

Nǐ shì dānshēn ma?
你 是   单身      吗?
Are you single?

Wǒ dānshēn hěn cháng shíjiān le.
我     单身      很     长     时间   了。
I have been single for a long time.


1. Jack and Kenny were good friends in high school. They haven’t met for a long time. One day, Jack called Kenny and asked: “Kenny, 你还是单身吗 (Nǐ hái shì dānshēn ma)?”
The question can be also asked with:

A. 你还单着吗 (Nǐ hái dānzhe ma?)?

B. 你还骑单车吗 (Nǐ hái qí dānchē ma)?

C. 你还在单位吗 (Nǐ hái zài dānwèi ma)?

See Answer

— Written by Jennifer Zhu —
Jennifer Zhu is a professional Chinese teacher from eChineseLearning. She has many years of Chinese language teaching experience and received her B.A. and M.A. in “Teaching Chinese as a Second Language.”

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I really enjoy the lessons. I am slow, but try to learn. I have a friend that is Chinese and another Vietnamese. I try.

Hi Steven.

Thank you for your comments. I’m glad that you like the lessons. Practice makes perfect. Keep going!

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