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Sorry guys, but here is another instance to two very similar verbs, both meaning 'to wait for sth'. 等待: you can 等待 for 比赛结果/六年/这个天/孩子的降生 等候: you can 等候 for 出租车/飞机的旅客/两个小时/客人/上级的命令 There doesn't seem to be an obvious difference... Anyone got any insights here? Thanks in advance, Hashamyim

  • IMHO, the answer you should take is @user6065's. – dan Dec 27 '18 at 2:23
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Simple answer is : they are interchangeable

Both 等待 and 等候 are compound word verb with the same meaning, just coined differently

等 = wait; 待 = stay

等待 = stay (passively) and wait (for thing to happen or people to come) = 'to wait'

~

等 = wait; 候 = wait/ expect

等候 = wait and expect (thing to happen or people to come)= 'to wait'

As of the minor difference in usage:

Since the component 候 has the meaning of (expect), whatever you 等候(wait for) is very likely to happen. e.g. 等候春天到来 (waiting for the arrival of spring)- Spring will certainly come

While things you 等待 (wait for) may or may not happen,

For example:

等待春天到来 (waiting for the arrival of spring) - Spring will certainly come

等待耶稣再臨 (waiting for Jesus to come again) - Jesus may or may not come again, so just wait and see

If you say 等候耶稣再臨, then you are kind of expecting he will.

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    Thanks!! I like it when they are interchangeable :-) – Hashamyim Dec 26 '18 at 20:32
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    @Hashamyim Generally, if you are waiting for something you expected to happen for sure, it is better to use 等候, but 等待 is not wrong either; if you are waiting for something may or may not happen, it is better to use 等待 , since using 等候 imply you have high expectation for it to happen. – Tang Ho Dec 26 '18 at 20:42
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"汉语动词380例" 等待/等候/期待 例 释 一、等待1。他们正在等待朋友。动词"等待"的意思是盼着所期望的人、事物或情况出现。又例如:a。请你耐心等待下去。b。我们等待着春天的到来。二、等候 1。我们在机场等候了一个小时。动词"等候"的意思是盼着所期望的人、事物或情况出现。又例如:a。他在候车室等候火车。b。等候看病的人渐渐少了。"等候"和"等待"的意思相同,主要区别是:"等候"多用于具体的对象:"等待"既可用于具体的对象,也可用于抽象的对象。三、期待1。他期待着朋友的帮助。动词"期待"的意思是对事物和人的未来的前途有所希望和等待。又例如:a。我们期待着那件事情尽快解决。b。大家期待着他的手术能成功。"期待"着意于对未来前途的希望和等待。"等待、等候"着意在等着人、事物或情况出现。

"对外汉语常用词语对比例释" 等 等待 等候 <动词>表示不采取行动,直到所期望的人、事物或情况出现。(一) 色彩不同。"等"口语色彩较重,多用于口语,使用频率较高。"等待、等候"含有不同程度的书面语色彩和庄重色彩,使用上受到一定限制。有时音节数量也有一定影响。只有一个音节的宾语,常用"等";两个或两个以上音节的宾语可以酌情选择。例如:等车 等人 等米下锅 *他正在等待/等候车。*我站在门前等待/等候人。他正在等待/等候汽车。我站在门前等待/等候客人。(二)"等"可以重叠使用;"等待"很少用重叠形式,"等候"一般不能重叠使用。例如:我们等等他们,他们一会儿就来。*我们等待/等候他们,他们一会儿就来。(三)"等"在时间上没有长短的问题;"等候"在时间上相对长些。所以"等"可以用重叠式表示短时,也可以接表示短时或长时的补语;而"等候"后边一般只接表示长时的补语。例如:等一下,马上就好 稍微等一会儿 等你好长时间了 等了半天 等了好几年 *等候一下,马上就好 *稍微等候一会儿 等候你好长时间了 等候了半天 等候了好几年 (四)"等"后边可以接结果、情况、可能等补语;"等待"、"等候"后边一般不能接这几种补语。例如:我终于等着他了。小李都等急了,你快点儿吧!这班车还等得上吗?快点儿!司机都等得不耐烦了!*我终于等待/等候着他了。小李都等待/等候急了,你快点儿吧!这班车还等待/等候得上吗?快点儿!司机都等待/等候得不耐烦了!(五)"等待"除用于具体、确定的人、事物外,还常用于抽象的、不确定的人与事物。"等候"则多用于具体、确定的人与事物。例如:她在等待中度过了艰难的四个月。他们正在等待胜利的最后时刻。他犯了错误,正在等待处分。*他们正在等候胜利的最后时刻。她站在门口等候客人的到来。大家排好了队,等候出发的命令。我一直在电话机旁等候你的电话。

also see online dictionaries: frequency ranks: 等待 #2429 等候 #6402

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    tl;dr; They’re the same, but 等待 can be used for abstract things (like the Spring), and so 等候 is more common for tangible things (like buses) – jonatan Dec 27 '18 at 8:16
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I agree to the answer of @user6065's. Tangho's answer is somehow off ("等候 imply you have high expectation for it to happen").

Actually, on the contrary to Tangho's point, 等待 implies your expectations or desires because 等待 can be construed as 等候(wait) + 期待(expect). For example, 请你耐心等待下去!, 请你耐心等候下去 sounds slightly off.

Another example can be 我在等待她回心转意的那一天. 我在等候她回心转意的那一天 is a bit off because it doesn't have the connotation of being expecting.

Basically, you might see it's roughly interchangeable in some contexts, but if you want to use them more accurately then you shouldn't overlook the nuance. For example, 等候火车 vs 等待火车, When you are at the train station, you would always hear 请到第xxx站台等候火车 and I bet you could hardly hear 请到第1站台等待火车 in this context. 等候 can be briefed as a single word 候, 请到第1站台候车 and you would never hear 请到第1站台车.

  • You are illustrating my point with the train waiting example. 等候火车 means you are expecting the train to eventually arrive ; 等待火车 means you are not sure if any train will come. – Tang Ho Dec 27 '18 at 2:40
  • Again, you proved my point. with the following examples: 请你耐心等待 (Jesus will raise again); 请你耐心等候 (train will come in 15 minutes – Tang Ho Dec 27 '18 at 2:43
  • 我在等待她回心转意的那一天 imply you are not sure if she will or will not; 我在等候她回心转意的那一天 imply you are somehow expecting it will happen. May be it is the reason you think it is off, because in reality, once a woman stop loving you, she rarely change her mind. Also, 等候 can be briefed as a single word 候 because 候 itself can mean 'wait' -- see my answer – Tang Ho Dec 27 '18 at 2:49
  • @TangHo, No, 等候火车 just simply wait without connotation of expecting, while 等待火车 does. That's the main difference between yours and mine. 等候火车 applies when you are sure the train will come and it's just the matter of time. – dan Dec 27 '18 at 3:00
  • 等候火车 applies when you are sure the train will come and it's just the matter of time. --That's just what I said! 等候火车 means you are expecting the train to eventually arrive 'expecting' means you know it will – Tang Ho Dec 27 '18 at 3:04

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