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Is there any difference between 成员 and 会员? Both mean member. I encountered this in a Level 2 Chinese workbook. Are they used in different contexts?

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成员 means member in a generic sense.

It can refer to a member of any organization, like a team (e.g. 团队成员), a class (e.g. 班级成员), a party (e.g. 党派成员), a tribe (e.g. 部落成员), a crew (e.g. 机组成员), a committee (e.g. 委员会成员), the jury (e.g. 陪审团成员), etc.

It can be extended to mean an element/component/constituent of an object, for example in Computer Programming, a variable defined on a class is called 成员变量.


会员 also means member but with much narrower usage. It is used only when

  • The organization is a membership club, e.g. 俱乐部会员 -or-
  • The Chinese translation of the organization ends with , e.g. 国会会员.

Generally, 会员 can be replaced with 成员 but not the other way round. 俱乐部成员 sounds equally correct and natural as 俱乐部会员, but for member of the jury you can only say 陪审团成员 while 陪审团会员 is wrong and sounds funny.

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成员 more talking about "member"

会员 is "member" too but more about "membership"

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会员:more specific than 成员, thus has a narrower range of usage. When you are a member of an associate, club, then use this word to describe yourself. “国会会员”sounds ok, but "国会议员" sounds more professional and formal, it sounds more appropriate. Some company, supermarket, bookshop etc, may assign or sell a kind of cards called “会员卡”, which is used to record how much money a customer has paid or show the privilege the person has got by spending money or buying their product and discount respectively.Whoever possess this card is a member of a group of people which can be somewhat viewed as a club. Whenever the word ends with "会",use the word, and you'll get it right most of the time, e.g: 兄弟会会员(fraternity member),女大学生联谊会会员(sorority member),学生会会员(student union member)

成员:More general, more commonly used. Apart from “会员卡” or other fixed phrases, you can replace “会员” by “成员” whenever you see some phrases containing “会员”"议员" or other words indicating a membership and still get it right. E.G: 兄弟会会员-->兄弟会成员,国会议员-->国会成员,机组组员-->机组成员,协会会员-->协会成员。

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