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Chinese Character Bites – #10 – 他 and 她

Our characters for today are 他 and 她

In simplified Chinese characters: 他 / 她
In traditional Chinese characters: 他 / 她
(They are the same in both traditional and simplified Chinese characters)

Pronunciation:

Both characters are pronounced tā in the 1st tone.

What they mean:

他 means he/him and 她 means she/her.

Since they are both pronounced in the same way, Chinese speakers often get he and she mixed up when they speak English, because they don’t distinguish between the two in spoken Mandarin, the difference only appears in writing.

Sometimes, the similarity can also make it slightly confusing who is being spoken about, but usually it will be clear from what comes before or afterwards.

Just for completeness, there is also a character for ‘it’,  它 or 牠, but it’s used much less often than it is in English.

Let’s break them down:

他 – The left hand side of the character is the radical for ‘person’ and the right hand side of the character is 也, which happens to mean ‘also‘.

她 – The same, but the left hand side of the character is 女, which is the radical for ‘woman’.

Because of this difference, it’s easy to distinguish these two characters. ‘He’ has ‘person’ in it and ‘she’ has ‘woman’.