Both 合适 and 适合 mean to fit/to suit.

I know the grammatical form needed for each one is different:



Aside of that, I have been told they cannot be used interchangeably but depending on the context either only one or the other may be used. Is that correct? How to know when to use each one?

My question refers only to the semantic context each of them is used in, not to the grammar itself.

4 Answers 4


The biggest differences between the two are:

  1. 合适 is an adjective while 适合 is a verb.

  2. 合适 can be used as an attributive modifier. E.g., 合适的机会

    适合 cannot. I.e., you cannot say 适合的工作

  • I've heard that although both can be used as a predicate. E.g., 这种工作对他很合适 and 这件衣服适合你的体形 If 合适 is used as a predicate, it cannot be followed by a object. While 适合, must be follow by an object or another word when it is used as a predicate. I've seen conflicting uses of this online so I cannot be sure.
    – Krazer
    Dec 12, 2012 at 15:27
  • 适合 is also an adjective (just looked it up on nciku.com because what you said didn't sound right to me).
    – Dan
    Dec 12, 2012 at 16:30
  • @Dan Please tell me what doesn't sound right. Under "Comprehensive Chinese-English Dictionary" in the entry you mentioned it says that it is a verb,under the Collins it's an adjective. The Contemporary Chinese Dictionary remains the most authoritative and popular account of the modern Chinese language.
    – Krazer
    Dec 12, 2012 at 16:45
  • @Dan Can you show an example where it's an attributive modifier? Dec 12, 2012 at 16:47
  • In spoken language, the object of 适合 can be omitted when the context is clear. 我要找一份适合我的工作 becomes 我要找一份适合的工作, which may leave you the impression of 适合 being used as an adjective. But in serious proofreading, I would definitely point out 适合的工作 as a wrong usage.
    – NS.X.
    Dec 12, 2012 at 18:34

As I've heard it:

适合: shi4 he2 is a verb.

那件衬衫适合你. That shirt suits you!

合适: he2 shi4 is an adj.

那是一件很合适的衬衫. That is a very suitable shirt!

Also, you are correct... they shouldn't be used interchangeably


Two cents here,

To be safe, always use 适合 + 我/你...,比如说适合我,适合你,适合他,适合妈妈,适合爸爸,适合弟弟,适合妹妹,适合某某某…… 适合后面必有介词。



合适在生活口语中,常常之前加上其它修饰副词,例如,真合适,太合适了,十分合适,极其合适,超合适 ……

PS: 附带一个成语——“正合我意”。

For instance, when someone propose to go to a restaurant to do lunch, and you like the idea, and you could exclaim with "正合我意",or “正中下怀”!


OP, look at it this way, I feel that typically "适合" has a bit of a verb meaning, having a "适". I feel that this statement is the equivalent to a verb.

With regards to your first two statements, the first one works fine with "适合", but the second one, if you say "我在找一个合适我的女孩" (~I am looking for a girlfriend that I find suitable) is passable in colloquial speech, though it might stand out awkwardly.

The former is more like an adjective.Notice its "适" after "合",Chinese expression(“适合” and "合适"are two Chinese expression)

For us the second word is like a “助词”(auxiliary word and it's like a modal particle) at least for me,so the sencond word has no means.

It's a habit when you express emotion or something use a expression with at least two similar word together that the real meaning of this Chinese expression only with the first word(sometimes it maybe the others,it depends the situation and your comprehension)

For convenient,you only need to think the first word “合” or "适".

"合" in these expressions is a adjective, when you use it in expression most of the time it is a adjective,so think what adjective used for will help you understand it.(It also has mean of verb but you need not to know this time)

And I feel that the 适 in the latter can sometimes have the meaning of a verb. (Looking for what they have discussed in the second hyperlink they also get confused about these word now and then)

This is a Baidu discussion of the two

This is another form discussion on the differences between the two from Baidu Post Bar

I hope this helps you. Chinese is a language you have to pay close attention to ponder its meaning.







  • Can you please edit your answer to provide with an English version? Dec 13, 2012 at 0:21
  • I added a rough translation... I hope this helps.
    – Krazer
    Dec 13, 2012 at 3:36
  • I have added some expression in English with my own comprehension and I think it will be helpful
    – frame99
    Dec 13, 2012 at 5:05

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