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HSK 5 translates 果实 as 'fruit'. I always refer to fruit as 水果 and so would like to know the difference between 果实 and 水果. My teacher has told me that 水果 is a 果实 but not all 果实 are 水果. Fruits that consist of water should be referred to as 水果 or either 果实, but fruits that do not consist of water should be only referred to as 果实. However, all fruits consist water right?

Main question: what is the difference between 果实 and 水果

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「果實」matches the botanical definition of fruit, and「水果」refers to the colloquial usage. The Wikipedia article sums it up nicely:

In common language usage (水果), "fruit" normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of a plant that are sweet or sour, and edible in the raw state, such as apples, bananas, grapes, lemons, oranges, and strawberries. On the other hand, in botanical usage (果實), "fruit" includes many structures that are not commonly called "fruits", such as bean pods, corn kernels, tomatoes, and wheat grains.

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  • 果实 is more general,contains also 浆果、坚果 and 干果 Oct 29, 2022 at 13:49
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果实, which is a concrete noun, means fruitage originally (also means result or outcome now), the collective name of the yield of fruit trees. 水果, which is an abstract nount, means fruits, the collective name of fruits. You may speak 苹果是一种水果 (apple is a kind of fruit) but not 苹果是一种果实, or 吃点水果 but not 吃点果实 (take some fruits). You may speak 苹果树长出了果实 (the apple tree has born fruits) but not 苹果树长出了水果.

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From my answer to a similar question why is ‘fruit’ referred to as 水果 if 果 already means fruit?

Also, 腰果, 白果 are nut (果仁). The single character 果 is too general to be used specifically for 'fruit'.

nut (果仁) is also a 果实, same as fruit (水果). In other words, '果实' refer to the 'seed dispersing package part' of a plant, including nut and fruit, while '水果' refer to 'fruit' only.

Also from my other answer:

生果唔同水果

For Cantonese, 生果 and 水果 are two different things. 生果 is fruit that grown on tree and 水果 is edible plant that grow in water (e.g. 水蓮藕 is a kind of root and 水菱角 is kind of nut). But for Mandarin, 水果 referred to all fruit that grow on tree and the term 生果 is rarely used.

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Not all but some other languages also feature a distinction between the idea of

  • "fruit as a source of nutrition, a culinary ingredient, a consumable commodity i.e. what you usually cut into pieces in the kitchen and eat, thus escape hunger; a possible solution for empty stomachs"

and

  • "fruit as an agricultural business product whose success depends on healthy growth of plants, an item of merchandise i.e. what you can collect and sell or use as a raw material in the manufacturing process of something else, thus escape poverty; a possible solution for empty wallets".

In Japanese it's 果物 read as [ku-da-mo-no] vs read as [mi].
In Arabic it's فاكهة read as [faakihah] vs ثمرة read as [thamarah].
And in German it's Obst vs Frucht that both mean "fruit".

In Chinese 水果 vs 果實(果实) follow a similar logical pattern.

Note that no two languages on Earth will match 100% as there will always be different use cases, unique features and exceptions. This answer only sums up a general idea that will hopefully be helpful.

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