I've seen "today" translated in several ways: "今日", "今天", "本日".

Are they all official words? What's the difference among them? Are those words more or less interchangeable in common language? Are there any other expressions? Are there so many ways to indicate "yesterday" and "tomorrow"? Can you provide examples?

A similar question (and useful answers) have already been provided at "Today" in Spoken Singaporean Mandarin.


  • 现代汉语分类词典 ISBN 9787100088688 might help
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 22:54
  • 近义词典 diyifanwen.com/jinyici 今天:今天不日 (? combining 今天 with 不日) 明天:明天将来 (also see iciba) 昨天:在词典中查找不到与您输入文字相关的任何记录 besides 明儿,昨儿 (cf。below)今儿 also exists (dialect)
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 15:28
  • 今天: today / 今日: nowadays / 本日: this day. No source, that's just how I feel about them. Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 14:02

5 Answers 5


In mainland China, we say 今天 mostly. I have never heard of 本日 personally. 今日 should only be used in a formal setting like a newspaper or a TV program.

  • This answer only applies to mainland China. I am not sure what words do Singaporean and Taiwanese use.
    – Zack
    Commented Jul 18, 2015 at 0:10
  • 今日(小马词典,爱词霸词典:today) by itself weird? it is even in IME editor, also cf. DW news: 广东省纪委原副书记被双开, 今日中国再传出高官落马的消息。
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 14:22
  • Well, you are right. It sounds perfectly fine if it is from a tv news program or on a newspaper.
    – Zack
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 20:59
  • "昨日"也是如此, same applies to 昨日
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 21:57

今日: Tends to be poetically used rather than day-to-day. It is still used, but usually in literature such as poetry, set phrases rather than on its own (like 今日晚间), or written documents and names (such as 今日新闻). It's used, but it's really not the most common choice of word for people on the mainland.

今天: The most common; used in regular speech in modern Mandarin.

本日: I've only ever seen this used in Japanese, actually. 本日 is pronounced ほんじつ (honjitsu) in Japanese, and is a formal word for "today", but it's never used in casual speech, only formal occasions such as in business. After a google search, it seems to be used in Chinese sparingly, and matches the pattern of 本年,本月,本日, but I've never seen it used in Chinese before today, only Japanese.

So, in reality I'd say there are only 2 that are actually used, and even of these, 今天 is the only one you really need to be using unless you have a reason not to.


"今天" we use this most often, and when you put it with "晚上" you can say "今晚" which means this evening. "今日" is more used in written Chinese and you can see this in newspaper, Tv programs. For example many TV channels in China have programs like "今日新闻"“今日热点”. As to "本日", I rarely hear this. But we use “本” on formal occasions sometimes, for example “本公司” “本人”"本店" which refers to "our company""myself"“our store”. Hope this can be of some help.


3 is not many! Can only think of 2 for yesterday and tomorrow! Maybe you know these songs.


明天/明儿个 你是否仍将爱我?

  • No, I don't Know those songs, and I don't manage ti find them on the net. Could you please privide a link to their lyrics? Thanks! Commented Jul 21, 2015 at 8:32

今朝 is another way to say today. Nowadays it's only used in local dialects. But this poem is very famous: 今朝有酒今朝醉,明日愁来明日愁.

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