I presume this is good Chinese, but I would appreciate your opinions, because it confuses me.


It seems to say:

  1. 很多候选药物存在 many candidate drugs exist

but 存在 must mean 有 here. 有严重的。。。。 Is 存在 often used this way?

  1. 安全隐患 seems to say 'safe hidden dangers' which is somewhat paradoxical, 'safe dangers'. They might mean 'safety dangers, dangers to safety' but was there ever a 'safe danger'? The one excludes the other. They must of course mean potentially dangerous side effects.

I'm pretty sure I understand the sentence correctly, but is it good Chinese?

  • Bad English to Mandarin translation without proper proofreading. Actually, it is a bad mandarin .
    – mootmoot
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 13:49
  • @young99 : read my answer. There is no such things as "safety risk" in English nor in Mandarin.
    – mootmoot
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 13:58
  • I thought it was not very good Chinese, proper prose got lost in translation! Not good for an HSK 6 text!
    – Gangosa
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 22:50
  • This is NOT good Chinese.
    – Henry HO
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 9:14
  • "Good Chinese" by which standard? This sentence is perfectly normal as people can understand without ambiguity and you can see similar sentences on formal newspapers and hear from TV news.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 5:58

3 Answers 3


This is a frequent form of the verb 存在 which is used transitively (i.e. it accepts an accusative phrase).

You can break down the sentence as follows:

  • 很多候选药物 -> (subject) many candidate drugs
  • 都 -> (adverb) all
  • 存在 -> (transitive verb) present
  • 严重的 -> (noun modifier with 的, lax modification) serious
  • 安全 -> (noun modifier without 的 = close modification) safety
  • 隐患 -> (noun, object) hidden dangers, risks
    It is worth noting the difference between 严重的 and 安全. Grammatically they have the same purpose, i.e. modifying the noun, but the first is a pure adjective 严重 and is therefore "applied" to the noun by interposing a 的. The second 安全 has a double value both as noun, as in 安全第一 (safety first), or as adjective, as in 这个区域很安全 (this area is [very] safe). Here 安全 is used as an adjective. It doesn't require 的 because:
  • 安全 is inherently a noun, and
  • 的 would be used to determine the strength of the specification. 安全的 poses more emphasis on 安全 (risks [of/for] the safety); no 的 poses more emphasis on the modified noun, thus forming a phrase with 隐患.

    Finally you can translate the sentence as:
    All candidate drugs present serious safety risks.
 Is 存在 often used this way?

存在 :

  1. (n) existence

example: 他的存在 = his existence

  1. (adj) existing

example:存在風險 = existing risk

  1. (v) to exist

example:(有)風險存在 = (has) risk exist

You can use 存在 as a verb, so it is possible, but a better choice of verb would be 存有(exist) which cannot be used as a noun or adjective, thus reduce chance of confusion. Or you can simply use (have).

A smoother writing should be:

"很多候选药物都存有严重的安全隐患。"Many candidate drugs have serious hidden safety risk." (存有 as a verb "exist")

The problem with using 存在 as a verb is : It is usually an intransitive verb (verbs that do not take an object; cannot be passive)

  • Thanks! I like 存有 better here, makes more sense. Like the mootmoot above said, this is probably just a bad translation from an English language article.
    – Gangosa
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 22:56

Only in computing and safety, 安全 means security. You cannot break away and recombine it with other terms.

信息安全 Information security

电脑安全 computer security

文件安全 document security

The original noun are actually direct translation from the English terms hidden security risks, hidden security dangers. This is a common terms use in security(safety) only.

In addition, Mandarin user already rephrase term "security" to 保安, use 保安隐患 to replace the confusing 安全隐患。 But poor habits dies hard, you will see some China IT expert use 安全隐患 instead of 保安隐患 .

For unknown reason, some China website reporter/editor start abusing the term and replace the common sense word : 危险 (danger),隐患(hidden risks). Pretend it is a "passive" phrase of danger and hidden risk. Which in fact, it is NOT! 电脑保安隐患 or 电脑安全隐患 is a special terms. The meaning of SECURITY(safety) can never use to substitute the meaning of risk.

Read the sentences again, you will notice it's nonsense : untested medicine doesn't have "security risks"/"safety risks", but pose a "healthy risk" , or plain "risks"!

I.e. Which one do you think is correct ?

Most candidate drugs pose serious safety risks .


Most candidate drugs pose serious healthy risks.

Most candidate drugs pose serious safety issues.

So the whole sentences are actually poor translation work from a person that doesn't understand English and master mandarin poorly.

The correct term should be plain: 隐患/ 风险 /危险

So this will clear your confusion : 很多候选药物都存在严重的[隐患]

Unfortunately, there is still many contradicting terms abuse by poor quality translator out there.

Update 1: Hong Kong and Taiwan will use 信息保安隐患/电脑保安隐患 to indicate Information security risk.

The most interesting part is the noun 安全 are only mean for two things : 1. Secure, out of danger 2. preservation

Update 2: Bare in mind that, China translation always suffered from poor command of English. Following is a good example of confusing term use : Paper that says human hand was 'designed by Creator' sparks concern. A English paper writer will never confuse about "natural selection" versus "creator".

  • 1
    I will have to dissent. 保安 is commonly referred to "security guards", i.e. security people. It might be used as "protect security" as an abbreviate form of 保管安全 but you surely 保安隐患 makes very little sense. The version you suggest 严重的风险 (serious risks) might be fine, but in my opinion 严重的危险 not as much, as 危险 is more related to "physical" dangers and not risks. 隐患 by itself is a perfectly fine term that has risen to common use for example when talking about health risks in the workplace. Therefore experimental drugs in fact do pose risks to one's health.
    – blackgreen
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 14:22
  • As for the quality of translation, what are your grounds? Baidu Baike has even a page relating to this very topic baike.com/wiki/%E5%AE%89%E5%85%A8%E9%9A%90%E6%82%A3
    – blackgreen
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 14:28
  • @TXV : For credibility, IMHO, Baidu Baike is a contents mills recycle bin. Always double and triple check the contents you read inside Baidu.
    – mootmoot
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 14:31
  • @TXV : 保安 is a multiple meaning noun and verb. Depends on region(China vs HK vs Taiwan), it can become 安保 . Because 安全 can be safety or security, it is a confusing. In addition, 保安 is a borrowed terms from Japan language.
    – mootmoot
    Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 14:49
  • I have never heard of 保安隐患, or 保安 meaning anything other than "security guard", in mainland China. Is it a HK or Taiwan usage?
    – NS.X.
    Commented Jan 8, 2017 at 5:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.