Learning Mandarin: Demonyms (Naming people based on where they came from) are easy

Image by Lex Faure

In English, we often name people based on where they came from. However, the rules for doing that are very complicated.

  • From England, we get English.
  • From Australia, we get Australians.
  • From Poland, we get Polish.
  • From China, we get Chinese.

But some get really, really messy. For example:

From Paris, we have Parisians. (That's not too bad)
From Greece, we get Greeks.
From Newcastle, we get Novocastrians. (Woah)
From Seattle, we get Seattleites.

How is someone learning the language meant to learn that?

In Mandarin, this is generally easy.

The word for person is (Rén) which even looks a bit like a person.

That gets added to the end of the name of the place:

中国人 (Zhōngguó rén) – Chinese
法国人 (Fàguó rén) – French
德国人 (Déguó rén) – German

Note that (Guó) means country. So it's often just country name + country + person. Some are a bit different and don't have the word for country in the name of the country:

墨西哥人 (Mòxīgē rén) – Mexican

Cities are OK too:

伦敦人 (Lúndūn rén) – Londoner
巴黎人 (Bālí rén) – Parisian
墨尔本人 (Mò'ěrběn rén) – Melbournite
上海人 (Shànghǎi rén) – Shanghainese

Learning Mandarin

I'll write more soon on the best methods for learning Mandarin. If you want to get a taste for it in the meantime though, my current favorite site is iTalki, and my favorite teacher by far is Amy He. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.

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