Are You “i 人” or “e 人”?

Monday, October 16, 2023

Nowadays, among young people, it may only take a simple question, "Are you an 'i' person or an 'e' person?" to transition from being strangers to becoming acquainted. Here, 'i' represents “内向 (nèi xiàng)”in Chinese, derived from the word "introvert",  and 'e' represents “外向(wài xiàng)” in Chinese, derived from the word "extrovert". Then, the terms "i 人(rén)" and "e人(rén)” have emerged. They are from the widely popular Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test. If you haven't taken this test yet, allow me to introduce it to you.

Based on four sets of opposing qualities: extroverted/ introverted, sensing/intuiting, thinking/feeling and perceiving/judging, MBTI test assigns people personality into 16 types. Someone even considers their results as a badge placed upon their foreheads, serving as their identification. For instance, "I am an 'i' person, so please do not disturb me" or "Calling all 'e' people! Does anyone want to go out to eat together?"

The fundamental difference between 'i' and 'e' persons lies in the way they direct and receive energy. Generally, “i 人”direct more attention, energy, and time towards the internal world, appearing quiet and less inclined to engage extensively with the outside world. On the other hand, “e 人” tend to derive energy from social interactions, enjoying communication and sharing their thoughts. The following table can help you better understand the distinctions between the two.

Nowadays, the terms 'i' and 'e' are not only used to describe human personalities but have also extended to animals. For example, we have "i dogs" and "e dogs", “i 狗(gǒu)” and “e 狗(gǒu)” in Chinese.

Some people divide i and e dogs according to breeds, such as Golden Retriever and French Bulldog, who are steady and and rarely bark, while Shiba Inu and Teddy are lively and clingy.

Of course, MBTI test is only to help you better understand yourself and others, and it can't dominate your life. “i 人” can also enjoy social communication and “e 人” can also fall in love with solitude.

Key Notes:

  • 内向 (nèi xiàng):introverted (a quiet person who is more interested in their own thoughts and feelings than in spending time with other people)

“内向”is an adjective, you can say:

  1. He is an introvert and doesn't like to talk to others.
    tā shì nèi xiàng de rén ,bú ài yǔ bié rén jiāo tán 。
  2. Xiao Hong is very introverted and usually doesn't like to talk much.
    Xiǎo Hóng shì gè hěn nèi xiàng de hái zǐ ,píng shí bú ài duō shuō huà 。
  • 外向 (wài xiàng): extroverted (a lively and confident person who enjoys being with other people) 

“外向”is an adjective, you can say:

  1. This child is very extroverted.
    zhè gè hái zǐ hěn wài xiàng 。
  2. He is an extroverted person, enjoying making friends.
    tā shì gè wài xiàng de rén ,hěn ài jiāo péng yǒu 。

Are you “i 人” or “e 人”? Do you like “i 人” or “e 人”? Tell us in the comments!

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