In English, a Chinese book could mean either:

  1. a book for learning Chinese, or
  2. a book which is in Chinese,

but (without additional context) we'd ordinarily consider the former interpretation as more likely. I wonder if it's the same in Chinese. A Baidu Image search for 汉语书 (Hànyǔ shū) suggests it only means "a book for learning Chinese".

Question: Does 汉语书 only mean "a book for learning Chinese", or can it also mean "a book in Chinese"?

  • It can mean both based on the context.
    – dan
    Apr 28, 2018 at 6:54
  • I think 语 and 文 are different. To me, 汉语书/英语书 are books for learning Chinese/English, while 中文书/英文书 are books written in Chinese/English. Apr 28, 2018 at 7:35
  • 2
    Use 汉语教材 or 中文教材 for a book for learning Chinese, use 中文版 or 中文书籍 for a book in Chinese.
    – xenophōn
    Apr 28, 2018 at 8:30
  • 中文书 books written in Chinese, 汉语书 books for Chinese learning usually
    – sfy
    May 4, 2018 at 15:13

2 Answers 2


In China a _____ is a :

____ 语文书:Chinese book for Chinese kids to learn Chinese reading and writing
____ 数学书: maths book
____ 英语书:book for Chinese kids to learn English

一本汉语书 = 一本中文书

'Chinese book' is mainly used to refer to a book for studying Chinese, (language)

but the literal meaning of 'Chinese book'

can be understood as 'Chinese character book'

也就是“book written in Chinese”.
i.e. “book written in Chinese”.

中文书则更多用于“book written in Chinese”.

As you so rightly said, the context will reveal all!


I think "Chinese book" usually means a book written in Chinese, and the appropriate transliteration would be "中文书籍".

In Chinese, "汉语书" is mostly interpreted as books for learning Chinese, and "Chinese textbook" may be a better transliteration for that.

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