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Discussion in '中文+方言 (Chinese)' started by baosheng, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada, English

    I have a question about the word 兄弟. Friends sometimes use this word to address me in e-mails (which I suppose means "brother", "buddy", "mate", etc). I am wondering though: is it used for both people older and younger than oneself? At first, I thought that it was for people older or younger, but some dictionaries I consulted (both 汉英 and monolingual) give the definition "younger brother", “弟弟" (without mentioning 哥哥).

    Also, is this word used in the same way as one would use 哥们儿? (when addressing someone casually)

    Thanks in advance/谢谢!
  2. truthguy Junior Member

    From my experience 兄弟 is similar to 哥们儿 (like "bro" in English) . The difference is that you can even use 哥们儿 to call people you don't know, for example: 哥们儿,天安门怎么走? while we rarely use 兄弟 to call a stranger, but usually suitable to an intimate friend.

    兄弟 goes both well with people younger and older than you. But I don't think we often call the brothers within family ”兄弟“ except under some special circumstances( I'm the only child in my family so I am not 100% sure about this, just by instinct ) . It's more common to just say "哥“ ”弟“ or directly call their names.
  3. xiaolijie

    xiaolijie MOD

    English (UK)
    I agree. I don't think one would use ”兄弟“ to address one's brother(s) directly but may use it to refer to them, when talking to someone else: 我的兄弟...
  4. baosheng Senior Member

    Canada, English
    Thanks, truthguy and xiaolijie!
  5. Youngfun

    Youngfun Senior Member

    Pekino, Ĉinujo
    Chinese/Italian - bilingual
    兄弟 is more used for plural, such as 两兄弟、三兄弟。
    or similar to the English "bro", when talking about very close friends, that feel like "brother", I feel that it's even closer than 哥们儿, although with similar meaning.
    It's also used to call the members of gangs.

    When someone refers to his brother, it's also very rare to say 我的兄弟。He will more probably specify elder or younger brother: 我的弟弟 or 我的哥哥。
    Unless he's referring to many brothers, some elders and some younger, such as 我的两个兄弟。

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