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I looked up a dictionary and

新式 and 新型 are all translated as "new type".

but when I look up a Chinese-to-Chinese dictionary it said that 新式 is 新的样式 and 新型 is 新的类型. and both seem to be different but I didn't quite get their nuances.

Anyone who can explain the difference well?

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    As a native speaker, I feel it's difficult to answer this question (let's circumscribe the question in modern Chinese). In set terminologies, e.g. 实用新型专利, they are not interchangeable. However, for an object x, without a clear definition given by specialists of the related field, we cannot really distinguish between "a new-pattern (新式) x" and "a new-type (新型) x" – that's why I believe in most cases, they are interchangeable. – Stan Nov 16 '15 at 11:13
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I believe they are almost interchangeable.

新型建筑 新式建筑

新型计算机 新式计算机

新型设计 新式设计

新型武器 新式武器

新型手机 新式手机


A little concern is that 新型 is primarily for things that does have a 型/型号.

For example, most digital devices and most industrial products always have 型/型号. So 新型 and 新式 are both good for them.

On the other side, most art-related products have only aesthetic concerns and have no specific 型/型号. 新式 could be better here.

新式服装 新型服装?

新式婚礼 新型婚礼?

新式歌曲 新型歌曲?

新式糕点 新型糕点?

新式化妆 新型化妆?

Still, I re-point out that, to a native speaker like me, they are almost the same and interchangeable.

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  • Good point on the "art-related products"! – Stan Nov 17 '15 at 4:54
  • I would like say 型 is genre, 式 is version. – Daniel Cheung Nov 17 '15 at 8:34
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式, 型, and 类 all share similar meanings. You can use them to describe a category, type, classification, kind, model, or pattern of something.

The nuisances can be subtle depending on the context or circumstance it's used. While these characters can be interchangeablely, there are exceptions. As an example let's use a common noun like 人.

人式 can roughly translate to "human/people style/form/pattern", referring to a specific way/system to classify a style of some. Most commonly you'll with practical arts, such as martial arts or cooking (e.g., Hong Kong-style cooking). In Japanese, the equivalent would likely be 様式. If I were a robotic lifeforms and was describing a way of doing thing the human way, could use 式. Both nouns and adjectives can be used here.

人型 can roughly translate to "human/people model/shape." 人型机器人 (android) is a common example of using 人型. 型 refers to the shape and structure of something. 新式 and 新型 can be used interchangeably because they both refer to something new. Regardless of whether or not it's a new style or model of something, the implied meaning is that this is a new type of thing. You typically would only use 型 with nouns as it applies the charateristic of the noun, such as a human-shaped or ball-shaped robot. Only nouns are applicable with this character.

类 is similar to the aforementioned characters as it can be used to describe a some kind of thing. 人类 commonly is used to refer to mankind, but it literally means "human-kind/kin." 新类 is usually used to refer to a new type/kind of type of something (e.g., 虫类). Like a new type/kind of robot (新类型机器人) or new living species (新类生物) of some sort. Both nouns an adjectives can be used with this character.

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