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
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 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
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 3:34
  • We can only learn through examples. There is no meaning listing all the details of a specific grammar.
    – John
    Commented Nov 19, 2015 at 3:35

3 Answers 3


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".


  • Good examples. They render the nuances between 本质 and 实质.
    – Stan
    Commented Nov 17, 2015 at 12:43

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。


【实质】 shízhì 事物、论点或问题的实在内容。





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