Both of them refer to "to focus on" or "to concentrate".

I know that if you want to specifically refer to something inanimate being concentrated in something, then you would use 集中, ex. 酒吧集中在那个地方.

However, other than that, it seems like you can use the two interchangeably when referring to a person concentrating in something.

Thank you for any help.

  • 集中 is only used when the sentence does not relate to mood, feeling, etc., 专心 used otherwise. – 超酷爆帅型男 Aug 13 '16 at 17:38

專心 is a state of mind, roughly "concentrate, focus one's attention"

集中 is "gather or bring together", roughly "summon, muster"

集中:集中人员/to pool or gather personnel or people together; 集中精力/to channel all energy together; to 集中物力/to gather all resources together.

专心:专心读书/To concentrate on reading;专心学习/To focus on studying;专心做事/To focus on doing something;专心开会/To focus on the meeting

The two can not be used interchangeably: The following would be wrong:(专心 can not replace 集中) 专心人员/专心精力/专心物力

But interestingly, 集中 can be used in some phrases where 专心 is used;however, the meaning would be different. For example: 集中读书/gathered together to study;集中学习/concentrated study on something,集中开会/to have a focused meeting (usually to solve a series of issues:集中开会解决这些问题)

So, they can not be used interchangeably.

Rule of thumb: 集中 is to gather something that can be gathered such as energy, people, buildings, etc.专心 is to concentrate on an action that will generate positive outcomes.

專 (focus/ concentrate)

心 (mind)

專心 is a compound word for " focus (one's) mind"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

集 (gather)

中 (centralize)

集中 is a verb for "focus / concentrate"

It can act on different nouns, for example: 集中火力,集中人手,

When you 集中精神 (focus your mind) or 集中注意力(focus your attention),you are being " 專心"

You can tell someone to be 專心, but when you tell someone to 集中, the noun(精神, 注意力) is omitted, which is not recommended.

專心讀書(focus your mind to study)= 集中精神讀書 (focus your mind to study). You can't just say 集中讀書 and omit 精神.

*集中 can also be an adjective "concentrated"

  • Thank you! So, I can say "請專心" and "我無法專心"? – Ludi Jun 28 '17 at 13:00
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    Yes you can say "請專心" and "我無法專心" within context. Because, if there's no other context, it would make people wonder : "focus on what?" – Tang Ho Jun 28 '17 at 16:04
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    @Ludi I don't think "請專心" is "fluent" in Chinese. Although "專心" can roughly be translated to "focus your ming (to)", it is usually used as an adjective, e.g. "專心學習,專心看書", but not a verb. So I think it's best if you add another verb after that. – iBug Jul 1 '17 at 9:15

专心 focus(专) ones's mind(心) on something,means concentrate

集中 1. gather(集)together(中), means centralize things

  1. this could also means concentrate combine with mind, e.g. 集中精神 == 专心

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