Is there a difference in the usage between 惊讶 and 吃惊? I know you can say “令人吃惊“ and “阵脚我吃了惊“.

Is there any way to divide the two?

  • 3
    You have a good example, "吃了惊". When 吃惊 and 惊讶 are used as "single phrases", they are the same, so 令人吃惊 and 令人惊讶 are both valid and have the same meaning (at least I can't figure out the difference immediately). However, 惊讶 is constructed by two characters with the same property, 惊+讶 is noun + noun; while, 吃+惊 is verb + noun. As a result, you can 吃了一惊, but you can't 惊了一讶. Hmm, though I'm a native speaker, my grammar level is limited (high school I guess), so let's wait for real experts to explain this~
    – Stan
    Nov 20, 2014 at 17:53
  • @Stan maybe you should post this as an answer! Nov 20, 2014 at 21:17
  • @Stan good explanation. As a native speaker, I also treat them same. Nov 21, 2014 at 1:29
  • 2
    reminding users of the term 离合词 or separable word/verb for the type of verb 吃惊 belongs to
    – user6065
    Nov 24, 2014 at 8:11

4 Answers 4


yes, there is a way to tell the two apart.

  1. 惊讶 is mostly used as an adjective, like 惊讶的表情 which means 'a surprising face look'.

  2. 吃惊 is used as the same as 'be surprised', for example 我吃了一惊 which means 'I was surprised'.


The similar meaning but the different usages.

吃惊的 adj. / 吃惊地 adv. / 吃惊 v. (Maybe in fear, feel frighted)

惊讶的 adj. / 惊讶地 adv. but no verb form. (Just feel not that common in one's view)


In my opinion, the difference between the two is very small.

If there is a difference ,吃惊 is more used in oral.惊讶 is more used in written.

But i am not mean you can't use 吃惊 in written or 惊讶 in oral.

Distinguish the two,you will be more professional and careful.

  • If you put some examples of when to use one or the other, it would help the OP be more professional and careful :)
    – tao
    Dec 18, 2014 at 4:43

惊讶 emphasises more on the state after being surprised/shocked. 吃惊 emphasises more on the process when being surprised/shocked.

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