Today I went to a language exchange and a nice lady from Beijing told me to use 掙錢 instead of 賺錢。 I asked whether the latter was 口語 and she replied 賺錢 was something one said “just like that”. So now I am confused.

For 掙錢 pleco defines: earn (or make) money For 賺錢 make money (or a profit)

The first one does sound a bit more like involving work, but I cannot really be sure of the distinction.

  • 1
    see baidu:挣钱和赚钱有什么区别?最佳答案 挣钱是普通用语,指的是普通人用普通的方法获取一定量的新酬,在数量上有一定的限制。 赚钱是商业用语,指的是生意人用较高一点的方法获取更多的财富,数量不定。& more
    – user6065
    Commented Dec 5, 2017 at 21:02

4 Answers 4


I'd like to make a supplement based upon previous answers:

Usually, 挣钱 and 赚钱 are exactly the same. But in some special cases, 挣钱 could reflect a scenario of hard working, since making money is not easy, while 赚钱 could mean that making money is easy, compared with 挣钱.

Here, the verb 挣 sounds like you have to make great effort to, you can see the verb 挣扎, which means struggle. The verb 赚 means making a profit, it can also be used as an adjective.

So we have the following phrases: 努力挣钱,working hard to make money (though 努力赚钱 is also possible) and 躺着赚钱, making money while lying on the bed.

  • I agree that 挣 reflects labor work, while 赚钱 is getting money from business. However, nowadays, 挣钱 and 赚钱 is interchangeable indeed. There isn't any difference between 努力挣钱 and 努力赚钱. 躺着赚钱==躺着挣钱.
    – dan
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 10:28
  • @dan You're right, so I emphasized it is a special case. Nowadays, 挣大钱 == 赚大钱, 挣点小钱 == 赚点小钱. But the old days are really interesting to think about. Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 12:17

Both 挣钱 and 赚钱 can mean "to earn money"(by working) or " to make money"(by trading)

  • 赚钱 can refer to making tiny, modest or huge amount of money

  • 挣钱 usually refer to making modest amount of money

赚钱 can also be use as an adjective for "profitable" as in "赚钱的生意" (profitable business )

We cannot use 挣钱 as the adjective "profitable". There's no "挣钱的生意", only "赚钱的生意"

  • I should say 挣钱 is not the adjective "profitable"
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 5:24
  • I see nothing wrong with "挣钱的生意".
    – dan
    Commented Dec 6, 2017 at 10:18

There is no significant difference between 挣钱 and 赚钱.


挣钱 because of 挣, has a feeling that you're making a living, it's something that you have to struggle to do.

赚钱 just means "earn money". But nobody really cares about the difference.

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