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I know both 觉得 and 认为 can be used to mean "to think", like:

你认为这篇文章怎么样?

你觉得这篇文章怎么样?

But most people would translate 觉得 to "to feel". Does 觉得 express more of what someone thinks based on just feeling, are there any cases where these two words are not interchangeable?

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觉得, to feel, to think. When 觉得 really means to feel, they are not interchangeable, e.g. 我觉得很累. I feel so tired. –  Stan Aug 5 '13 at 16:46
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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Yes, 觉得 expresses more of what someone thinks based on feeling. 认为 expresses more of a person's opinion based on considerations and beliefs. As such, 认为 is always stronger than 觉得 when communicating thoughts. There are cases where the two words are not interchangeable:

  • When expressing a strong belief:

    在过去,人们认为喜欢抛头露面的妇女是不守妇道的。
    In the past, people considered women who appear in public to be lacking in virtue.

  • When expressing a feeling:

    觉得很遗憾,这件事不该发生的。
    I feel very sorry. This incident should not have happened.

Where they are meant to communicate thoughts, although interchangeable, there is always a preference of one over the other:

  • When expressing a casual thought without a line of reasoning:

    觉得这篇文章太深奥了,就算让我再读几遍我也读不懂。
    I feel that this article is too profound. I wouldn't be able to comprehend even if I read it a dozen times.

  • When expressing an opinion with a clear line of reasoning:

    认为这篇文章太深奥了,使用的词汇不是一般人都能看懂的。
    I opine that this article is too profound. The vocabulary used is not what an ordinary person can understand.

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Based on @QuestionOverflow's post, I recommend a case-by-case learning process. For example, it's weird to say it as "我認為很遺憾,這件事不該發生的。", but it's quite natural to say "在過去,人們覺得,喜歡拋頭露面的婦女是不守婦道的。" To me, there's not so much difference between the two, but I really feel it a bit serious when I use 認為。 –  congliu Aug 20 '13 at 10:57
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