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How to Talk About Your Husband 怎麼談論關於妳的老公 in Chinese

怎麼談論關於妳的老公

(怎麼)(談論)(關於)(妳的)(老公)

(zen3 me.) (tan2 lun4) (guan1 yu1) (ni3 de.) (lao3 gong1)

(how to) (to discuss) (about) (your) (husband)


 

I like to talk about my husband

因為我愛他而且他是很棒!

(因為)(我)(愛)(他)(而且)(他)(是)(很)(幫)!

(yin1 wei4) (wo3) (ai4) (ta1) (er2 qie3) (ta1) (shi4) (hen3) (bang4)

(because) (I) (love) (him) (but also) (he) (to be/is) (very) (great)

Because I love him, and he is also great!

 

There are two main ways to talk about a husband in Chinese.

一個叫法很客氣。

(一個)(叫法)(很)(客氣)。

(yi1 ge4) (jiao4 fa3) (hen3) (ke3 qi4)

(one) (way of calling) (very) (polite)

One way of saying it is very polite.

 

In any writing that is more formal than relating everyday conversations, you will see the word:

先生

(先)(生)

(xian1) (sheng1)

(first, foremost) (to live)

husband, mister

 

With this title, the husband is given a place of preeminence, but we’ll get back to that more later.

However, a more casual and endearing reference is:

老公

(老)(公)

(lao3) (gong1)

(old) (male)

old man

This was confusing for me to understand, because in my culture, calling someone “old man” is considered disrespectful. What I needed to understand is that reverence for age is built into the Chinese language.

For example,

上中文課以後我常常說,『謝謝很好的老師。」

(上中文課)(以後)(我)(常常)(說),『(謝謝)(很)(好的)(老師)。」

(shang4 zhong1 wen2 ke4) (yi3 hou4) (wo3) (chang2 chang2) (shuo1), “(xie4 xie.) (hen3) (hao3 de.) (lao3 shi1).”

(Chinese lesson) (after) (I) (often) (say, to speak), “(thank you) (very) (good) (old teacher).”

After a Chinese lesson, I often say, “Thank you, wise teacher.”

 

Because in Chinese one doesn’t just say “teacher,” one says “very old, wise, revered teacher,” to show respect and appreciation.

 

We can see this mirrored in English just a bit in the common phrase, “he is an old hand at that.”

In Chinese, they say something very similar:

在這方面他是老手。

(在)(這)(方面)(他)(是)(老手)。

(zai4) (zhe4) (fang1 mian4) (ta1) (shi4) (lao3 shou3)

(at) (this) (square side or side of the square = in this area or subject) (he) (is) (old hand)

He is an old hand in this field.

 

Respect carries over into the words for “wife,” too. The husband may be “first,” but the respectful word for wife is:

太太

(太太)

(tai4 tai.)

(very big, much, too, over)

wife, madame

 

This is a doubling of one of the words used in indicating “extremely over”, so

哪怕先生第一在家太太還是最高。

(哪怕)(先生)(第一)(在)(家)(太太)(還是)(最高)。

(na3 pa4) (xian1 sheng1) (di4 yi1) (zai4) (jia1) (tai4 tai.) (hai2 shi4) (zui4 gao1)

(even if) (husband) (first) (at) (home) (wife) (still) (highest level)

Even if the husband has first standing, the wife is still higher.

 

I couldn’t help but remember the other first way I learned to use the word 太 (tai4):

當我去買東西的時候,我常常說,「這個是太貴了!」

(當)(我)(去)(買)(東西)(的時候),(我)(常常)(說),「(這個)(是)(太)(貴)(了)!」

(dang4) (wo3) (qu4) (mai3) (dong1 xi1) (de. shi2 hou4), (wo3) (chang2 chang2) (shuo1), “(zhe4 ge.) (shi4) (tai4) (gui4) (le.)!”

(word used to begine “when” phrase) (I) (to go) (to buy) (things) (when), (I) (often) (say), “(this) (is) (too) (expensive) (emphasizes that is how it is)!”

When I went shopping, I often said, “This is too expensive!”

 

Then, I couldn’t help but think that some husbands think,

「我的太太太貴。。。」

「(我的)(太太)(太)(貴)。。。」

“(wo3 de.) (tai4 tai.) (tai4) (gui4)

“(my) (wife) (too) (expensive)…”

“My wife is too expensive…”

 

But I’m sure they still think of them in terms of endearment similar to 老公 (lao3 gong1)。

In recognition of long term and close relationship, a wife is often 老婆 (lao3 po2)。

Interestingly, both words here mean “old”, the second, 婆 (po2), specifically meaning “old woman” in a general respectful way. It is used to refer both to a grandmother or a mother-in-law or any elderly woman you want to show respect for.

I am supposed to practice my Chinese at home,

哪怕我的老公聽不懂。

(哪怕)(我的)(老公)(聽不懂)。

(na3 pa4) (wo3 de.) (lao3 gong1) (ting1 bu2 dong)

(even if) (my) (husband) (listen not understand)

Even if my dear hubby does not understand.

 

I will have to come to terms with the difference in the languages if I want to use the best word for the circumstance and relationship.

可能我會教他說「老婆,我愛妳」

(可能)(我)(會)(教)(他)(說)「(老婆),(我)(愛)(妳)」

(ke3 neng2) (wo3) (hui4) (jiao4) (ta1) (shuo1) “(lao3 po2), (wo3) (ai4) (ni3).”

(perhaps) (I) (will) (to teach) (him) (to say), “(old woman), (I) (love) (you).”

Perhaps I will teach him to say, “Dear wife, I love you.”

 

An audio version to listen to for practice:

 

  • Eldfluga

    Hi there; I stumbled across your blog while looking for tips on creating chicken tunnels, and stumbled further into your posts on Chinese.

    I think you might get a kick out of Lang8; it allows you to post your own language practice for critique, and to constructively edit the posts of other members who are learning your native language. A lot of Lang8-ers use their accounts like blogs, so it might be helpful to you to crosspost your Chinese language blogs there for feedback, as well as posting them here. When I was studying Chinese in college, Lang8 was a huge (huge!) practical help to me.

    Just a note, in your first sentence you have a pernicious homophone muddling things up. The character I think you meant to use was 棒 (bang, may mean “great” in adj. form) rather than 幫 (bang, “help” in verb or noun form.)

    Also, in Chinese when you are modifying a noun or pronoun, you do not need to (and really shouldn’t!) use the being verb (i.e. 是.) Instead, you can just attach an adverb (e.g. 不 or 太) to the adjective and stick it right next to the noun that you are describing (e.g. 我很累.) The rationale here is similar to the reason for saying “I have hunger” (tengo hambre) in Spanish instead of “I am hungry” (estoy hambre); the speaker is not hunger incarnate, so the being verb is not used.

    Anyway, I’ll stop giving my unsolicited opinions now, and just say thanks for the chicken tunnel tutorial. 🙂 Have a nice day!

    • lauraimprovises

      Thanks for you reply and taking time to offer suggestions. I have a native speaking Chinese tutor who corrects all my blogs before I post them. Certainly, she is not infallible, as no one is, and I will check with her about what you said and sifting through people’s perspectives on how things “should” be said is always instructive. 🙂