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How to know when you're hearing or reading a chinese name as part of a sentence?


Hi guys, I’m lower-elementary I guess, and I have just come across this sentence in one of the lesson grammar sections, and it is something i’ve been wondering for a while now


How do I know if the words being said to me (in this case, 姚明) are a name, or if i should be trying to translate them?

I think this is easier when reading rather than listening, but I’m not sure. When I hear the sentence “Yao2 Ming2 you3 duo1 gao1?”, how am i supposed to know that Yao Ming is a name?

Is there even a way to know, or do we need to rely on context to figure it out? How do native speakers know?



Native speakers can usually tell by surnames that we’ve heard and how it’s usually a surname combining with one or two other syllables. I guess if his name is something like “姚明山有多高?” then I’ll be confused if it’s a name of a person or a mountain.


I think this is just a case of passively learning more Chinese and it will become second nature based on context. Most people have never heard the name Gwilym, but based on where it goes in the sentence (Gwilym 很帅)you can guess that is must be a person.


I used to have this problem too, whenever there was a name in a sentence I would immediately get confused, but over time this problem has slowly disappeared. Maybe part of it is getting used to reading the context, and maybe part of it is getting familiar with Chinese names (I’ve already run into two of my Chinese friends’ names in the Chinesepod lessons, same characters and everything). The only other things I can add is that quite a few Chinese names are repeated characters, so if you hear a repeated syllable being used as a noun there’s a good chance that it’s a name


Thanks for the replies, this is as I thought it would be. I’ll keep reading and listening to as much as I possibly can.

Jeez mate, being a bit hard on yourself aren’t you? You’re not that bad… :smiley: