I've been learning with a course, and one of the lessons said: 这个男人在游泳, but the same sentence with a dog was: 这只狗在游水.

I presume that both were doing the same thing: swimming. So, can I use 游泳 with animals and 游水 with persons? What is the difference between them?



They are the same, you can also say

这只狗在游泳 or 这个男人在游水

The only difference is, 游水 is not commonly used anymore.


游水 is mainly a colloquial Cantonese term http://www.cantonese.sheik.co.uk/dictionary/words/1332/


/jau4 seoi2 / (jyutping)

swim, swimming. Mand.: 游泳

the entry of 游水 doesn't even include a Mandarin pinyin for it

Also logically, you can swim (游泳) in any liquid ; while 游水 specifically means swim in water, but even Cantonese ignore it, since it is very rare that someone swim in a liquid other than water

  • 游水 is in two Mandarin dictionnaries: ABC and 现代汉语规范词典. Oct 28 '18 at 8:17

游泳 can be both formal and informal.

游水 is informal.

for example, a sign reads "NO SWIMMING" can only be translated as "禁止游泳"。

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