So, both of these seem to mean detailed / carefully and texts seem to use them in much the same way. Are they therefore largely interchangeable or is there a difference as to when these adjectives/adverbs should be used? Many thanks! Hahsamyim

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    see online dictionaries, e.g.bkrs (excerpts): 详细 detailed in detail;minute; circumstantial;#3306 仔细 (1) [careful; attentive]∶当心; 细心 路很滑, 仔细点儿 (2) [frugal; economical] [方]∶节俭的; 不浪费的 日子过得仔细 cautious #2160
    – user6065
    Mar 4, 2018 at 18:24

3 Answers 3


As an adverb, both 详细 and 仔细 contains the meaning of 'thoroughly, carefully and detailed'

You can use "详细檢查" or "仔细檢查" for "thoroughly inspect" or "carefully inspect"; You can use "详细分析" or "仔细分析" for "thoroughly analyze"

详细 and 仔细 are interchangeable in these cases.

However, 仔细 also contains the meaning of 'concentrate' and 'pay close attention'

You can use 仔细欣賞 for "concentrate and enjoy; pay close attention and enjoy" but not "详细欣賞"; You can use 仔细聆聽 for "concentrate and listen" or "pay close attention and listen" but not "详细聆聽 " (which mean thoroughly listen')

详细 and 仔细 are not interchangeable in these cases.

Another difference between 详细 and 仔细 is 详细 can be an adjective, 仔细 is mainly an adverb.

We say 寫一份詳細報告 but not 寫一份仔細報告


详 means 'complete',antonym is 'brief', 详细 covers every corners, every possibilities, every considerations...

仔 means 'careful'.

详细 is an objective description, 仔细 includes attitude.

Some people may say "做得仔细点" to others work, which means they do not satisfied their attitude and want others 做得认真点, in this case, 做得详细点 can not be used.

So basically, 详细 means detailed, 仔细 means carefully


Interesting question. I've never thought about it before, but the two aren't interchangeable in my mind.

Using https://tw.ichacha.net/ as source.

細 means fine, intricate, detailed, thin.

仔 means young ones, when applied to living creatures. When applied to plants, it means seed, seeds. So, it means "tiny".

詳 can be used as adjective, noun, verb. It means detailed, details, known.

I would say 詳細調查 to mean thorough investigation, but 仔細觀察 to mean carefully observed. From this, I guess this means imo 詳細 means thorough, and 仔細 is careful, such that @Tang Ho described (one is an adjective, and the other is an adverb).

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