In talking about physical/geographical directions, I'm pretty comfortable using 朝 and 向 and 往 for the meaning of "to" or "toward". But I would be hard put to describe to a Chinese language learner any differences in usage or meaning among these three words. Are there any important differences?

  • 4
    This link contains a good description of the similarities and differences of the three words. – 杨以轩 May 3 '13 at 12:22
  • Why is that a comment rather than an answer? – Dan May 3 '13 at 12:30

See the Chinese Grammar Wiki. The explanation is quite extensive with many examples.

Some relevant parts:

向 and 往 can be placed after the verb, however it has to be used with an appropriate verb, Often used verbs are 开, 飞, 发, 运, 送, 寄, 带, 驶 etc. As you can see, this are words that at least imply some sort of motion. In addition, compared to 向, 往 is used more often with those verbs, because 往 expresses the destination while 向 merely expresses a direction, 朝 cannot be used this way.

When the action that takes place is specified to a specific target, use 向 or 朝. 往 cannot be used this way. Also, when the verb is a concrete action, the use of 向 and 朝 are the same, and they can be interchanged.

When the verb has an abstract meaning, you can only use 向, and you cannot use 朝.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.