Main Site Blog Help

Diminutives: "-a" "a-" and " 'er"


I come across this a lot but haven’t succeeded in finding any good overview or explanation:

For some time, I’ve heard people add a syllable to the beginning or end of someone’s first name. It seems that /where/ the “a” is placed may depend on how it sounds with the name in question or maybe on the region the speaker is from.

This also seems to be something only done with friends and family where there is informality.


If your name is Chao, I might call for you or refer to you as “a-Chao” or “Chao-a”

Very recently, watching the addictive “Pretty Li Hui Zhen,” series, several of the characters are addressed by their intimates by taking the last character of their name and adding " 'er " to it. Ex:
Hui Zhen calls her BFF, Xia Qiao, “Qiao’er” who calls her “Zhen’er” - is this yet another way of “diminutizing” names or the actual PinYin for the “a” I’ve heard for much longer?


@Constance_Fang, @YuQinCai do you know anything about this?


Yes. These are common way to nickname.
The last character of my name is Qin. Possible nicknames people might address me are AQin, Qin’er, or double it Qinqin.
My family name is Cai. Possible nicknames people could call me are Xiaocai(little Cai), Laocai (Old Cai)

There are more sounds people might add to people’s names to show intimacy in different regions under influence of different dialects.


谢谢,QinQin! The world once again makes sense!


Haha. Well…But try not to call random girl with these intimacy ways otherwise I can’t guarantee your safety.


Thank you for letting me practice on you!


This would give a nice lesson actually.
I already tried to learn more about 儿 in particular and found that to be quite difficult.
At least couldn’t find anything reasonable besides this forum thread.