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一起 vs 一块, are these two expressions the same in Chinese, or is there a certain situation where one is more appropriate than the other? Can anyone explain what the difference might be?

For example: 我们一块去 and 我们一起去 - are both of these exactly the same, or is one better than the other?

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Seems to me, "一起" is more formal, while "一块(儿)" is rather oral and informal. – Flake Jan 29 '12 at 10:21
I think "一起" also is used to mean "一共" in some parts of China; e.g., 这些东西一起多少钱? – Jon Jan 30 '12 at 4:24
up vote 5 down vote accepted

For your example,

我们一块去 or 我们一起去

they are of exactly the same meaning. One slightly difference could be that the latter one is more formal (used in written Chinese) while the former is rather oral. And in spoken Chinese, we usually add an "儿话音" to the end of “一块”:

一块儿 (Note: the Pinyin is Yi Kuair, not Yi Kuai Er)

So when referring to together, you can either use 一起 and 一块儿, but I prefer to use 一块儿 in the daily life.

In other occasions, 一块 can be of other meanings. For example,

一块钱 means "RMB One Yuan"
一块蛋糕 means "a piece of cake"

一起 also has some other meanings:

一起车祸 means "a case of car accident"

Here 块 and 起 are measure words.

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My husband couldn't resist answering this one. He said it is rather 一块儿. Both are good in your example. Northerners say 一块儿 more, and southerners say 一起 more, for example, in Sichuan (where he's from. so are pandas).

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The pandas non sequitur is so unexpected that one simply must upvote this. – dr Hannibal Lecter Jan 31 '12 at 20:46
Actually going off topic does not automatically make one want to upvote. – Jacob Feb 14 '12 at 4:35

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