What's the difference between 计算机 and 电脑？Do they have the same meaning? They both mean computer, but does the meaning differ between regions, or something else? Or are they completely synonymous?
For questions like this, I sometimes do a Google image search. For 电脑 I only get images of computers (which is what I expected); for 计算机 I get images of both computers and calculators.
However, when I asked a native speaker from Henan last year, he insisted that 计算机 refers to calculators. This may be related to the regional differences mentioned by user454038.
电脑 for daily use, 计算机 is a formal words.
大娘: 你学什么的? 小明: 我学计算机的?
an old women: What subject did you major?
xiaoming: I majored in computer science (at college).
计算机 means computer science.
大娘: 你学什么的? 小明: 我学电脑的.
An old women: What subject did you major?
xiaoming: I majored in how to type and install windows (at Department of Community Services).
You ask the difference between 电脑 and 计算机, is like asking the difference between PC and computer.
电脑 is what people use in speaking, 计算机 is more technical.
In English PC is more like a Windows installed desktop computer.
And computer is just a computer and sometimes more technical because the nature of a computer is to do arithmetic computations.
I am a native Chinese speaker,in our daily life,there are not so many differences between 计算机 and 电脑，usually,when we are having classes,the official name is 计算机课 rather than 电脑课.the biggest difference may be in some professional feild,for example,in Chinese college a major named 计算机专业 ，so when you speak Chinese ,there is no need to pay much attention to it,unless you are in a special academic field thus you can say 计算机,also,if you say 电脑，most people can still understand you.
For Mandarin, regional differences exist, but there are also similarities. To summarize, here are some rough charts:
Mainland Both Taiwan t: 計算機 電腦 s: 计算机 电脑 r: ji4 suan4 ji dian4 nao3
as in, pocket calculator:
Mainland Both Taiwan t: 計算器 計算機 s: 计算器 计算机 r: ji4 suan4 qi4 ji4 suan4 ji
Baidu, a mainland website, lists s:
computer, with s:
电脑 as a popular term.
When browsing computer websites with localized versions of the same page,
HP.com for example:
- In English, this page would be
HP Desktop Computers
- They have slightly different ways of conveying
桌上型quite literally desk-top-format, whereas Mainland:
- but for the
Desktop Computerboth use r:
dian4 nao3, t:
So for both the Mainland and Taiwan, you can say
computer by saying
ji4 suan4 qi4,
计算器是现代人发明的可以进行数字运算的电子机器。 ...外文名 calculator
计算器 is for mathematical calculations, and its English is
ji4 suan4 ji:
So while it can mean
computer, but in Taiwan, it means