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Is 你 or 您 more appropriate here?


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When addressing professors who are close to my own age, I usually use 你 and none of them have pointed it out or seemed particularly uncomfortable with it but I have heard other students closer to my age use 您 which I learned was more for addressing people who are your senior in age but not necessarily in hierarchy. Am I being too casual or does 你 seem appropriate in yall’s opinion? Thanks!

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I have the same experience as imron - I'm often called 您 by people older than me, and mostly in business situations, which are usually more casual and relaxed than academics. 您 is not just used for addressing people with older age or higher social status, but also to express respect.

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I think as a foreigner little attention would be paid as to whether you use 您or  你 but Imron had given good advice. Just do what others do as a safe bet.


I get called 您initially by students, colleagues,. and then after a while it changes to 大哥 or 叔叔 .... but I'm old 


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It would be better to use 您 unless they tell you to use 你 instead.

Actually some profs (eg. my advisor) rarely use 您 to others and they won't require others to use this term (that sounds somewhat strange and stilted), because their mother tongues (many southern dialects) don't have honorific.

But it's safer to use 您.

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  • 4 months later...

您 should be used whenever respect is needed to be shown. Examples of situations can be when addressing a person that is significantly older/in a higher position/a teacher/elder generation in a family/someone doing favours for you/a stranger met in a formal situation. And situations in which you cannot use 您 are when addressing a friend/junior member of an organisation or a family/child.

As in this case, a professor is considered a knowledgeable educator who deserves great respect, hence 您 should be used.

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