Both 改正 and 纠正 mean "to correct" or "to make right."

What is the difference between these words? Do they have different connotations? Are both words acceptable in sentences like the following?

Mistakes should be corrected as soon as they are discovered.

3 Answers 3


The grammar is the same for both, but 纠正 often has a stronger meaning. It is often used when a lot needs to be changed or the errors are more serious, and 改正 is often for smaller changes, when not that much needs to be changed. Also 改正 is more used when you want to correct your own errors, instead of other people's errors.

The are both typically used for 缺点 (shortcomings) and 错误 (errors).

In 《现代汉语规范词典》 I found this: "改正"是主体的自觉行为;"纠正"可以含有强制意味

I think 纠正 is slightly better in your sentence, since these errors need to be immediately corrected, they are probably a little bit more serious.

  • 1
    Nice answer! Do you mind adding a typical example for each expression? Just to add more flavor... :D
    – Alenanno
    Mar 28, 2012 at 9:54
  • There are some good example sentances on Nciku: see: nciku.com/search/all/examples/%E7%BA%A0%E6%AD%A3 and nciku.com/search/all/examples/%E6%94%B9%E6%AD%A3
    – BertR
    Mar 28, 2012 at 11:30
  • It's not that I can't look for them myself, I meant that if you added them to your answer, they would increase its value. You're free not to do it, of course.
    – Alenanno
    Mar 28, 2012 at 13:46
  • "改正"是主体的自觉行为;"纠正"可以含有强制意味 -- that is to say, “改正” is to correct by yourself, and "纠正" can be that someone makes you to correct a mistake. For the question, I think it still needs some context, or both will be suitable.
    – Dante WWWW
    Mar 29, 2012 at 4:44
  • There are 2 aspects. "纠正"可以含有强制意味 means it has a stronger meaning. So for example for more serious problems or things that need to be fixed more urgently. But I agree, depending on the context 改正 might also be a good solution.
    – BertR
    Mar 29, 2012 at 5:26

纠正 sounds more serious than 改正.

If the problem caused a lot of bad consequences, and maybe you were wrong since the first step, then you have to 纠正.

Otherwise, 改正 only means change it to the correct way. Just like "shut up" and "stop talking" in English.

  • 纠正 is serious and common to see in political texts against enemies' opinion. It sounds like if you don't correct it, you will be punished. You never 纠正 yourself.
    – Lenik
    Apr 4, 2012 at 9:17

I think the phrase "jiuzheng cuowu" means you are partly wrong, in contrast, "gaizheng cuowu" is used to express that you are totally wrong. But I think most of the time they are interchangable.

These two have one same character- zheng, it is the result or target of these two words. However, they have different emphasis since the "jiu" and "gai".

jiu:纠, it has a 纟.纟was writen as糸 in traditional chinese, it means hinged cords. Here is the link: http://dict.baidu.com/s?wd=%81L&tn=dict&dt=explain

gai:改,from the perspective of carapace-bone-script,it's left part-己,signifies a child on his or her knees, the right part signifies his or her parent stands by with a lash at hands. The whole part express that a parent taught the right way to do a thing if this child made some mistakes that a parent treats these mistakes as crucial problems. Thanks.

Below is a link of the carapace-bone-script or jia gu wen.Thanks


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