I'm Indian. I'm trying to learn Chinese. I searched Google translate, it's showing Chinese simplified or Chinese traditional.

What is the difference between Chinese simplified and Chinese traditional?

Which is better for understanding? How to use both?

I checked one word in google translate 工作 simplified and traditional there is no change in output 工作. and I checked another word in google translate 什麼 in traditional and same word in simplified 什么 How to use these two words.

  • Traditional and Simplified elements can greatly differ, so if you learn traditional characters, you would also need to know the simplified variants as traditional ones are not widely used. Masochists with a lot of time on their hands would learn both in parallel. Those who want to learn the language in the most efficient manner would stick to simplified. You would typically be able to infer much of the traditional script by having a good overall command of the language. Consider that you need to master at least 3000 of these characters, so decide accordingly Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 3:06
  • Why it's used the word 的 after a verb? I know the role of this word after a noun (genitive), but I even don't know this different function. Commented Aug 17, 2017 at 13:37
  • Traditional Chinese can more easily understand what it means (by its glyph), we can compare ancient glyph, zdic.net @字源字形). but Simplified Chinese can save many efforts during writing them on a paper, even some people in HK / TW forget how to write a complex character (e.g. 郁,龟). Simplied Chinese is used in mainland China, so that many population, pronunciations are same between both Chinese forms. Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 9:35
  • It is better to learn simplified over traiditional ones, unless you will be living/working in places such as HK and taiwan as they are the few countries that are still using Traditional Chinese.
    – Revol729
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 6:41

5 Answers 5


Simplified is used in mainland China. Traditional is used in other areas, like Hongkong, Macau, Taiwan, etc...

Simplified, no surprise, simplified some (not all) of the characters from traditional.


What are some good movies recently?

最近有什麼好看的電影? (Traditional)

最近有什么好看的电影? (Simplified)

That is all, they have same pronunciation, grammar, vocabularies in standard Chinese.

Note: The 'standard' could be argued.

Edited: Some words (not too many) have different pronunciation, but I think that is a topic about dialect or oral Chinese, and has nothing to do with the simplified/traditional characters.

  • Simplification decrease some strokes, but try our best to keep consistence in word-building. Commented Aug 10, 2017 at 0:58

Traditional written Chinese have thousands of years. But it takes a long time to write, since the characters are sometimes very complicated. Mao Zedong decided to use simpler, already existing variants, so that people could write faster (this was being debated since the beginning of the XX century, but hasn't been yet really implemented). In the communist spirit, he wanted that everybody could write, not just well educated, rich people. This was achieved on the cost of losing a few of the history and meaning of some characters (not all of them were simplified), but the final result seem to compensate for the problems. So, if you want to study Chinese language, I suggest you study both, simplified and traditional, with an emphasis on simplified (which has much more users nowadays).

  • The simplification of Chinese characters had been going for a while before Mao Zedong. Refer: zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/… (English version available) . During the time most educated people were confused and debating. So it is not just a one man's decision.
    – Kevin Y.
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 21:17
  • @KevinY. Sorry, but I haven't found your claim in the link given.
    – Rodrigo
    Commented Aug 21, 2017 at 22:20
  • Sorry, that link is just for the historic movement background. You can find specific topic page here zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%B1%89%E5%AD%97%E7%AE%80%E5%8C%96
    – Kevin Y.
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 1:24
  • @KevinY. "In 1935, 324 simplified characters collected by Qian Xuantong were officially introduced as the table of first batch simplified characters and suspended in 1936." (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simplified_Chinese_characters#Before_1949) Also here. Don't seem to change the fact that Mao Zedong was indeed the first to introduce simplified characters in a definitive manner.
    – Rodrigo
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 1:36
  • thanks for the info! I think I may misunderstood what you initially meant. Mao Zedong (or the PRC government) did influence greatly the chinese simplification and the influence took effect. What I was saying is just that the simplification was not came up by one man or one specific group. The whole China, during 1920s to 1950s (and even later) had been in great debate. Being a poor country made people lose confidence in our own culture and language. People also proposed to replace chinese characters with latin letters totally (and that may had been on schedule for a while of PRC)
    – Kevin Y.
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 2:01

It's 2 sets of Characters in the first place and are used under different circumstances, where the same character may have different when written in 2 sets. Multiple simplification standards were applied, some were abandoned and some remain till today. The purpose of the simplification is to decrease the percentage of 文盲(uneducated people, lit. "people that cant read") by decreasing the complexity of the characters.(Some of the linguists suggested latinization, but they didn't succeed).

During the process, some phonetically-similar Characters were simlipied into a single character.

The Chinese Languages used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau regions adopts the traditional Characters, because those regions were not governed by the Chinese Gov in Mainland when the simplification took place only in China Mainland.

To be more precise, the Simplified Chinese you saw when translating often refers to Manderin of China Mainland, and Traditional Chinese often refers to Manderin of Taiwan. You can see that they are assigned the names"zh_CN" and (often) "zh_TW". And some phrases representing the same thing are different between zh_CN and zh_TW.

The most widely spoken Chinese languages are Manderin and Cantonese. If you plan to learn Cantonese, i'd suggest you to learn the traditional Chinese Characters. But if you plan to learn Manderin, it depends on where and with whom you want to use the language. If you are to use Manderin with mainly Taiwanese, i'd suggest you to get to the traditional characters from the beginning. Otherwise(and more likely) you can just start with the simplified ones, they cause less trouble learning characters and you can thus take more time to adopt the other language features. If you have more passion, you can learn both in parellel.

The same text can be written in either set of characters. Note that for some other major dialects(Cantonese or Hakka and so on) have VERY different grammar and vocabulary from Manderin, and some of their written forms adopts the traditional characters and exclusive characters.


Because majority of the Chinese people were uneducated, the newly formed communist government back then tried to educate its people by making Chinese letters simpler, thus the name Chinese simplified.

For instance, If American suddenly become stupid, then the US government will need to shorten most of the long alphabetic English words. For example, the word "Education" will be simplified to "edu" because it's easier to learn and write. So if you really want to learn Chinese and become a real scholar, then pick traditional Chinese. If you only want to communicate with Chinese people, pick Chinese simplified. Even people in HK and Taiwan who normally use Chinese traditional, can read Chinese simplified, so you are all good to go.

With that being said, if you don't consider yourself stupid, then there is no reason why you should learn simplified version Chinese designed for stupid people rather than to learn "Real Chinese". For example, When you learned how to spell "education", you actually have learned more than one word. Many words in English has the suffix ending in -tion, so by learning the "English Traditional" rather than "English Simplified", you learn faster!!

If that makes any sense to you. Learning to spell longer words is actually faster? By faster, I mean not just by learning few words but every words!! Same thing to Chinese. When you know how to write a word in Chinese Tradition, you actually have learn many words in Chinese Simplified. With that being said, anyone who can write Chinese Traditional can easily write Chinese Simplified, but not via versa, so it's not totally wrong to say that majority of the Chinese people living in Mainland China are still uneducated.

  • The first simplification scheme is released by Republic of China in 1935. If you have basic knowledge of China history, you would know the communist bulit the country in 1949. How did the communist educate the country in caves in northen-west of China?
    – sfy
    Commented Aug 22, 2017 at 11:18
  • @Jacob The Communist Party of China was formed in 1921, smart donkey. More like if your mom married your dad in 1935, and you think she never have IC before 1935.
    – Atmega 328
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 6:35
  • Everyone know they exist before 1949. But you didn't answer my question. Before they rule the country in 1949, how did they carry out a new policy? And talk about the first simplification by KMT.
    – sfy
    Commented Aug 23, 2017 at 13:26

As a senior school student in China.(* ॑꒳ ॑* )⋆* We use Chinese simplified in the life.(〃'▽'〃) Chinese traditional is used in ancient times.(,,•́ . •̀,,) Chinese traditional is more complicated(๑•̀ω•́๑) such as“晓”“曉” But there is no difference in some chinese(๑•̀ㅁ•́ฅ) such as“你好(Hello)”chinese simplified and traditional are both“你好” In the mainland we use simplified( • ̀ω•́ )✧ In HongKong Macao Taiwan they use traditional I think simplified is better and it's easy to learn(¯︶¯) Hope I can.help you(*^ー^)

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