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I understand they both translate to meaning, "to learn, to study" but what is the purpose of this distinction?

marked as duplicate by songyuanyao, Tang Ho, user-487, hinen, wpt Mar 9 '17 at 11:25

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There are still a lot of differences in between I think.

  • For most cases, when you want a verb meaning "to learn", either of them can be used. Only xuexi is having more syllables to make you sounds more formal and polite.
  • When used as a noun, xuexi is more frequently to be used to express "learning".
  • Also, xue has more meanings rather than "to learn" as a verb. It also means "to imitate", "to perform as"-e.g. shuoxuedouchang(说学逗唱)

Actually :

xuéxí 学习 Study

xué 学 Learn

习 carry the meaning of "practice". So 学习 = Learn and practice.

You can acquire the meaning from dictionary.com

Study : the devotion of time and attention to gaining knowledge of an academic subject, especially by means of books.

Learn : gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.

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