5

怀疑 means (1) to doubt, and (2) to suspect. This seems to lead to some confusing translations. For example:

我怀疑这张百元钞票是假的

could have two very different translations. If I use "to doubt", then it would translate to

I doubt this 100 yuan bill is fake

Meaning that you think it's real. On the other hand, if I use suspect, it would translate to

I suspect this 100 yuan bill is fake

Meaning you think it's most likely fake. These are nearly complete opposite meanings!

I don't believe my understanding of the word is wrong b/c I've heard it used in both contexts (though I may indeed be wrong), but how am I to know when definition is being applied?

3

First we will deal with the origin (English):

doubt is, in a sense, questioning something
suspect is, on the other hands, distrusting something

back to your example, you can identify the 2 sentences like this:

I doubt (this 100 yuan bill is fake)

thus you are questioning the bill's..."fake-ness" which implies you think it's real

I suspect (this 100 yuan bill) is fake

thus you are distrusting this bill, thinking it's fake.

Now, to the translation:
我怀疑这张百元钞票是假的 is definitly the second explanation - I suspect this 100 yuan bill is fake.

The way to express I doubt this 100 yuan bill is fake would be:
我对这张百元钞票是假的有怀疑

Hope this gives you an idea.

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  • What about translating "不过,我总是怀疑你们需不需要我的帮助”. Here is it used as "doubt"? – TheRealFakeNews Jul 17 '15 at 20:37
  • Also, does adding 是否 change the meaning in your example sentence? – TheRealFakeNews Jul 17 '15 at 20:40
  • It's the same for "不过,我总是怀疑你们需不需要我的帮助" - I suspect if you will need my help. the sentence I doubt if you will need my help will be better like this: " 不过,我总是怀疑你们不需要我的帮助". I believe there's a mechansim behind it but I am not knowledge enough to give you some references on it. – Alex Jul 17 '15 at 20:55
  • you're correct on 否. I have edited the answer – Alex Jul 17 '15 at 20:58

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