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I recently had a homework assignment to select the correct answer

我学了10年汉语了,含有水平 。。。 很高

I chose 一定,but the correct answer turned out to be 当然

Was my answer incorrect, why?

How do these two answers differ in meaning. I'm thinking perhaps that 当然 has a stronger connotation of certainty, as in yes my Chinese level is very high, where as 一定 implies that it should be high, but isn't necessarily... Is this correct?

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"我学了10年汉语了,含有水平 。。。 很高" I guess 含有 should be 汉语, am I right? If so, please correct it to avoid possible misunderstandings. –  Stan Mar 30 '14 at 9:11
The whole sentence sounds unnatural. A better way to phrase it would be "我学汉语学了10年,水平 _ _ 高". –  杨以轩 Mar 31 '14 at 1:57

5 Answers 5

up vote 10 down vote accepted

一定 either introduces an INFERENCE, which is very likely to be true (as in the context of the given sentence), or shows a strong intention (in other contexts). On the other hand, 当然, equivalent to the English 'of course', indicates an inevitable consequence that the speaker KNOWS to be true.

In this sentence, since the speaker is talking about himself, he does not need to make an inference about him being good at Chinese; he knows he is good at Chinese. Therefore 当然 would make more sense here.

An easy way to differentiate the two is to translate the sentence into English with 一定 and 当然 replaced by 'must be' and 'of course', respectively, and you will be able to immediately see which one is better.

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great answer! although this seems to be contrary to what user1228520 says in his answer about 一定 being more certain. I think your answer is correct but I'm a bit confused now.. –  Samuel Parsonage Mar 30 '14 at 1:48
Well, I guess a better way to put this is that 一定 makes you SOUND more 'certain' than 当然. By saying 一定, you are making a guess, but you believe that guess is very likely (say, >98%) correct. And you sound eager to show off this high probability. For 当然, depending on the context, you may be stating an obvious fact in an indifferent tone, but everyone knows that it is 100% true. Again, just compare 'must' and 'of course' and you will know what I am talking about. –  Mingjing Zhang Mar 30 '14 at 2:08

This question is really tricky. As a native speaker, I would say it depends on what the speaker is trying to say here.

It's really hard to explain so I put up some English translations that have very close meaning and tone to both 当然 and 一定


I've been learning Chinese for 10 years, OF COURSE my level is very high.


I've been learning Chinese for 10 years, my level is DEFINITELY very high.

I've been learning Chinese for 10 years, my level MUST be very high.

So basically 一定 is more like a judgment and is more certain. From the English examples above you could see that all of them are right in terms of language itself.

But I believe, not many people would say themselves must be good at something. To me it sound more natural if saying about others like "He's been learning Chinese for 10 years, his level MUST be very high." The same concern is valid in Chinese, I guess that's why the correct answer is 当然

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Yes, another example in English: 'He walked for 10 miles, he must be tired' is okay, but 'I walked for 10 miles, I must be tired' isn't, while 'of course I'm tired' would be. You know for certain whether you are tired or not, so it sounds weird to use 'must be'. –  neubau Mar 30 '14 at 1:36

一定 means "definitely," while 当然 means "of course." In both English and Chinese, these two words have very similar meanings. They pretty much have the same denotation; I can't think of an example where it would be factually accurate to use one and factually inaccurate to use the other. However, they differ in their connotation. Both express certainty, but 当然 does so in a way that presumes the certainly should be obvious.

In your case, since the person studied Chinese for 10 years, it is obvious (at least to the speaker) that he is good at it. Note that if the sentence were this instead:

他学了10年汉语了,含有水平 。。。 很高

both would be acceptable, but have slightly different connotations. 一定 implies that the speaker is inferring that that person must be good at Chinese since they've been learning it for 10 years. 当然 implies that the speaker knows that that person is good at Chinese and using the fact that they have been learning it for 10 years as evidence to support this "obvious" point.

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"一定" means "definitely".

We use this word when you confirm something is truth.

For example, you can write: "我*一定*去" means:

I confirm that i will go.

"当然"(write "當然" when you translate it into traditional Chinese) means "of course".

We use this word when you describe something as "certainly", "no doubt", or "the result will happen naturally".

For example, you can write: "我*當然*去" means:

I will surely go.

Remember, 一定 is a stronger than 當然 when describe something.

More example: "理所当然" means something is reasonable and no doubt.

You think or you judge something is reasonable, so you do it because you think it's right.

But it does not confirm something. If you have evidence and confirm something is right, you can use 一定

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I think there is a typo, it should be 汉语水平...很高, not 含有水平...很高。

however, whether it is a typo or not, your question is already explained by the previous answerers

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