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Expressing "one of" with "…zhi yi"

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Chinese-grammar-wiki-zhi1.jpg

之一 (zhīyī) is a simple phrase which means "one of." Although it uses the somewhat archaic word 之 (zhī), it's quite common in spoken Chinese, and is even commonly used in jokes.

Structure

In order to express "one of" in Chinese, 之一 (zhī yī) can be used at the end of a noun phrase, which is often modified with 最 (zuì), meaning "the most."

Subj. + 是 + [Noun Phrase] + 之一

[Noun Phrase] + 之一 + 是 ⋯⋯

Examples

  • 她 是 我 最 好 的 朋友 之 一Tā shì wǒ zuì hǎo de péngyou zhī yī.She is one of my best friends.
  • Frozen 是 我 最 喜欢 的 迪斯尼 电影 之 一Frozen shì wǒ zuì xǐhuan de Dísīní diànyǐng zhī yī.Frozen is one of my favorite Disney movies.
  • 纽约 是 世界 上 最 国际化 的 城市 之 一Niǔyuē shì shìjiè shàng zuì guójìhuà de chéngshì zhī yī.New York is the one of the most international cities in the world.
  • 他 是 这个 公司 的 创始人 之 一Tā shì zhège gōngsī de chuàngshǐ rén zhī yī.He is one of the founders of this company.
  • 成龙 是 最 有名 的 中国 明星 之 一Chéng Lóng shì zuì yǒumíng de Zhōngguó míngxīng zhī yī.Jackie Cheng is one of the most famous Chinese movie stars.
  • 我 想 离开 北京 的 原因 之 一 是 空气 污染 。Wǒ xiǎng líkāi Běijīng de yuányīn zhī yī shì kōngqì wūrǎn.One of the reasons why I want to leave Beijing is because of air pollution.
  • 中秋节 是 中国 重要 的 传统 节日 之 一Zhōngqiūjié shì Zhōngguó zhòngyào de chuántǒng jiérì zhī yī.Mid-autumn Day is one of the important traditional festivals in China.

The Common Joke

A joke you'll hear a lot in Chinese involves using 最... but then pausing before saying 之一. This can leave the impression that you're saying someone or something is "the best," but really you're saying "one of the best," which can be a big difference (and is not nearly as complimentary).

  • 她 是 我 最 好 的 朋友 …… 之一Tā shì wǒ zuì hǎo de péngyou... zhī yī.She is my best friend... well, one of them.
  • 你 是 我 最 喜欢 的 老师 …… 之一Nǐ shì wǒ zuì xǐhuan de lǎoshī... zhī yī.You are my favorite teacher... well, one of them.
  • 中国 是 我 最 爱 的 地方 …… 之一Zhōngguó shì wǒ zuì ài de dìfang... zhī yī.China is my favorite place... well, one of them.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books