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I looked up a dictionary and

实质 and 本质 are all translated as "essence" or "core".

Anyone who can explain the difference?

  • Why not use dictionaries with more detailed entries and lots of examples, which might go a long way in showing the difference, e.g. iciba? – user6065 Nov 17 '15 at 13:51
  • Could be the same but there are many subtle differences that can only make sense in examples. Like 实质上,这个球是实质的。问题的本质,人的本质,本质上说,etc... – John Nov 19 '15 at 3:34
  • We can only learn through examples. There is no meaning listing all the details of a specific grammar. – John Nov 19 '15 at 3:35
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I think when used as nouns, they have the same meaning. (But in the phrase "现象与本质", often we don't use “实质” to replace “本质”.)
When used as adjectives 实质 means "substantive" or "actual", 本质 means "essential".

本质区别、本质原因
实质进展、实质性证据

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  • Good examples. They render the nuances between 本质 and 实质. – Stan Nov 17 '15 at 12:43
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I understand that you ask the difference between 实质 and 本质 in Chinese. They have the same meaning. The interpretation is from the "现代汉语词典-第6版".

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【本质】 běnzhì 指事物本身所固有的、决定事物性质、面貌和发展的根本属性。

例句:在一些平凡的小事上,往往能够看出一个伟大人物的优良的本质

【实质】 shízhì 事物、论点或问题的实在内容。

例句:理想问题,实质上是一个人的世界观问题。

◆辨析:“本质”运用范围比“实质”广。

“本质”指人或事物本身所固有的根本的属性。它可构成本质特点、本质特征等词组。事物的本质是隐蔽的,是通过现象来表现的,不能用简单的直观去认识,必须透过现象掌握本质。

“实质”指内在的实际的属性,跟表面的或虚假的东西相对,一般指抽象事物,如精神实质、问题的实质等。

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