I've been collecting memo sentences to distinguish between 活 and 话. The root phrase is 他话说得好快 and I know it's grammatical, because it's given in a courpus.

What interests me is the grammaticality of another phrase, which we can get by changing (occasionally or intentionally) 话 into 活.

So my question will be, do native speakers understand the phrase 他活说得好快 as a grammatical utterance and, if yes, what would it mean in English?

  • uncommon combination, what is it supposed to mean? It seems 活 would have to function as adverb, jukuu: 活 a. living alive active lively ad. simply exactly ichacha.net:Ⅲ副词 (真正; 简直) exactly; simply 短语和例子 活像 look exactly like; be the spit and image of bkrs has 活说着 условно говоря, примерно сказать, conditionally, approximately speaking,
    – user6065
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 17:18
  • possible replacement: 做 instead of 说, in which case 活 functions as noun (like 话 in the other sentence) ,"work,job", enter 活做 into jukuu and get 100 samples
    – user6065
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 19:14
  • Why are you having trouble distinguishing these totally unrelated words? If it's just because of the written similarity, I'm not sure why example sentences would be helpful. The distinction in sound and meaning is not subtle :) Commented May 3, 2017 at 23:02
  • who is this addressed to? Who is having "trouble distinguishing these totally unrelated words"? Comment #2 merely suggests a substitute differing in only one character (no claim that characters are similar or in any way related), but at least replacement has same grammatical structure, with 活 meaning a noun, unlike in 活说 where if the phrase makes any sense at all it would function as adverb. Reference to jukuu merely to confirm relatively high usage frequency of 活做 (therefore possibly at same level of usefulness as 话说, besides user also asked for meaning)
    – user6065
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 0:53
  • @user6065 My comment was addressed to the questioner. If I had addressed it to you, I would have @-ed you. @-ing the OP is pointless, as they get notified regardless. Sorry for the confusion. Commented May 4, 2017 at 3:28

1 Answer 1


[活] and [话] are completely different word and cannot be used interchangeably. "他活说得好快" is not a correct sentence.

I think the reason you thought these 2 word can interchange is because of some common typos.

  • 1
    there was no claim that they can be used interchangeably, not even that they both function as words of the same type, 活 can be verb,adjective, adverb or noun, merely whether 他活说得好快 is grammatical, it certainly seems highly uncommon, but e.g. 活说着 exists, of course followed by 得好快 (instead of 着, or just by itself?) makes it sound very strange
    – user6065
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 2:45

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