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Example sentence 1:

他的汉语能力已经达到了HSK 11级左右的程度。

Example sentence 2:

他貌似30岁上下年纪。

While 左右 sounds more natural (to me) in 1 and 上下 in 2, we can interchange them and the two sentences would still be correct and have the same meanings as before (tell me if I'm wrong). What dictates when to use 上下 and when to use 左右?

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  • 1
    They're same, can be used for approximate number of age, quantity, price, weight, length and distance, except for the time(hour). For example we can say 今天下午7时左右, but not 今天下午7时上下.
    – user4072
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 9:19
  • 4
    reference: 现代汉语“前后”“左右”“上下”的语义和用法研究
    – user4072
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 9:33

1 Answer 1

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Mostly,上下 and 左右 have the same mean when you describe something.

When you describe something high or low(mostly abstract things,like level), you can use 左右,比如 他的水平很高,有十级左右了。Abstract things usually use 左右, like level, time(十分钟左右,how long is your own feel). And not say 十分钟上下.

When you describe something big or small,young or old(mostly you can tell by eyes) you can use 上下,比如,他看起来有十岁上下.But, you can also say, 他看起来十岁左右.

Usually, they are quite similar, just remember how people say and use in that way is ok.

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