When I was writing a simple paragraph about 自我介绍, I wanted to say that "I was born in XXX."

I wasn't sure about how to say it and then looked for some examples of how to say it in Chinese and came across two characters :

"在" and "于" (I just knew about 于, I had never paid attention to this character before).

Both can mean "in, on, at" and can be used as a preposition to indicate a location as well.

Now, what's the difference between two characters?

Will there be any difference if I say :





Thank you!

  • The tag simplified-chinese is specifically for discussing Simplified Chinese characters - please don’t assign it to questions not to do with characters.
    – dROOOze
    Nov 21, 2018 at 7:02
  • 于 always more literary than 在
    – sfy
    Nov 21, 2018 at 12:54

2 Answers 2


王得屹's answer is basically correct, is used in colloquial sentences more and is used in literary sentences more.

I would provide examples to illustrate the point more clearly:

"生(于)中国" = "出生(在)中国" (we don't say 生在中国 because 生 is more literary, 在 is more colloquial, mixing the two make it sound unnatural)

"逝(于)日本" = "(在)日本逝世" (we don't say 逝在日本 because 逝 is more literary, 在 is more colloquial, mixing the two make it sound unnatural; meanwhile, 死 and 在 in 死在日本 are both colloquial terms)

"生于中国" and "逝于日本" are more literary

"出生在中国" and "在日本逝世" / 死在日本 are more colloquial

unlike 逝, 逝世 is more suitable for colloquial sentences


Both 我出生在XXX。and 我出生于XXX。are right. They have the same meaning. In my experience with the two words '在' and '于' as a Chinese speaker, they all adpositions which have similar use. Both of them can be used to indicate time and location. The only different I think between them is '在' is often used in spoken language but '于' is often used in formal occasions.

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    – Becky 李蓓
    Jul 30, 2020 at 12:30

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