I wanted to know what's the exact difference between 住 and 居.

Since these characters mean the same thing, why can't I convince them together into one word meaning "to live"?


  • why can't I convince them together into one word meaning "to live"? It already exist, "居住" means " to live"
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 6, 2016 at 14:45
  • live at住在 (eg 我住上面的套间), 家住 (eg弗洛伦斯-塞福顿,77岁, 家住北威尔士的迪根维。。。lives in Deganwy, North Wales), :"汉语水平考试词典"[义1]住(reside,live):各~|侨~|群~|同~|移~|安~乐业|深~简出|他俩感情不好,已经分~|毕业后,她在国外~留了四年。 居住 [义1]较长期地住在一个地方(reside,live):~权|他家一直~在农村|在这里已~很长时间了。(search site for previous discussions of 住,住在)
    – user6065
    Oct 6, 2016 at 17:04
  • according to dictionaries 居 only occurs in established compounds (including 成语), thus a difference with 住 seems to be that it should be considered a bound morpheme unlike 住 which clearly is a free morpheme
    – user6065
    Oct 7, 2016 at 16:08

3 Answers 3



[1] [v] live; reside; stay; dwell; inhabit [2] stop; cease



[1] [v] to live at, dwell, reside, inhabit, occupy, abode [2] [n] a residence, an house, dwelling




to reside; to live (at some place) | [粵]: 住

  • 住 is a verb for "to live (in); to reside (at) "
  • 居 is mainly a noun for " a residence, an house, dwelling"

Since the meaning of " to live / to reside " has a dedicated verb 住 , and 居 as a verb, has other meanings (for example: occupy) , few people would use 居 for the meaning of 住 , except in instances that literal style of reading is preferred.

You can think of 居 is more literal and 住 is more colloquial when it comes to using a verb for "to live ; to reside"

Some example sentences:

他現在住在美國 (he currently resides in America)

他現居於美國 (he currently resides in America)

他現在在美國居住 (he currently resides in America)

*unlike 住 or 居, which is placed before the object , 居住 is placed after the object.

  • Is there a difference between using both 居住 as opposed to just using 住 in a sentence? E.g. 她住在伦敦 versus 她在伦敦居住 May 9, 2020 at 19:05
  • 1
    @MuchAppreciated25 '居住' is more specific, implies 'her home' is in London. 住 is more general, her home may or may not be in London. In general, compound words are more specific than their single character words counterparts
    – Tang Ho
    May 9, 2020 at 19:13

I don't have enough points to comment yet, but 居住 can be used before the object.

他居住在美国 is both acceptable and correct.

  1. 住 means live

  2. 居住 also means live but contains the meaning of stay (the period is longer than 住), and can imply "have a life there", such as set up a home. Even it doesn't have to be permanent, the length of time cannot be very short. Here are some examples:

a. You can say my friend is going to live with me/ in my house for 3 days:我朋友要在我家三天。You cannot say 我朋友要在我家居住三天。This is because 3 days is a short period of time.

b. You can say you lived in a hotel for 3 days: 我在旅馆里了三天。You cannot use 居住 in this case (lived in a hotel for 3 days) because you only live there temporarily and it doesn't require you to set up a home.

c. You can say 他居住在美国三年了。 As 3 years is a relatively long period and it requires you to set up a home of some kind to live in a city/country for this long. 居住 is more appropriate in this case.

  1. 居/居于 is more literary, is rarely used in spoken language.
  • in "他居住在美国 " 居 is redundant. If you write "他居住於美國" then 住 is also redundant. 居住 only sounds right after the object.
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 6, 2016 at 23:21
  • As I mentioned, this implies he lives in America and it is not for a short period of time, it is unlikely to be used in spoken language though.
    – EXL
    Oct 6, 2016 at 23:24
  • it is unlikely to be used in spoken language though -- so you agree most people don't talk like that in real life.
    – Tang Ho
    Oct 6, 2016 at 23:31
  • I think you edited your comment, yes, people don't talk like that.
    – EXL
    Oct 6, 2016 at 23:50
  • 居住于 is wrong is because people don't use 于 after 居住,you can say 住 is redundant here because 居于 is correct. But 居住在 is correct.
    – EXL
    Oct 6, 2016 at 23:53

and are interchangeable, and they can also be used together, with slightly different in meaning.

人主也**。 人 means human, person; 主 means occupy, owner. Thus essentially means living in some place for a relative short term.

尸古也**。 尸 means corpse, dead body; 古 means ancient, old or long period of time here. Thus essentially means living in some place too, but for a long term because ever after you are dead, ie, becoming a corpse, your soul will still live in that place for a long period of time.


  • 中国人来美国定。 Chinese come to America to live there for a long time.
  • 你妈在酒店。 Your mom is living in a hotel. (Probably short term)
  • 1
    In view of e.g. comment #1 it appears doubtful that 住 is interchangeable with 居 (used in well established compounds and 成语s 安~乐业|深~简出),testing whether 住 in 住在亚洲/中国/北京/XX省XX市XX区XX镇XX村XX街XX号 can be replaced by 居, try feeding e.g. 居 街 号 to jukuu-> 13 examples none of which contains 居, however there are several of the type 住在史密斯街12 号, now if instead 住 街 号 is fed there are 6 examples 5 of which all are of this type (住在帕姆街253 号3-G 室 another such)
    – user6065
    Oct 7, 2016 at 2:25

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