Both mean "clear", but in what way these two words are different?

  • 1
    @user6065 Unless the "user6065" account is auto-scripting answers and comments, there is no requirement for a question body text to repeat the characters from the heading in the question in Chinese SE policy. Please stop asking this from new users.
    – dROOOze
    Jan 3, 2019 at 8:51
  • it would just mean doing a favour to users answering the question, being able to copy Chinese from question w/o using Chinese typing software would make writing answer easier
    – user6065
    Jan 3, 2019 at 9:10
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    @user6065 You can copy text from heading, even they are inside a hyper-link. I did a simple test and found that you can select the text while pressing "Alt", on Windows in Chrome. You can then copy.
    – fefe
    Jan 3, 2019 at 9:11

3 Answers 3


明 = bright = clear (you see thing clearly in bright light)

确 = definite; unambiguous = clear (when there is no ambiguity, it is clear)

明确 = clear (clear and definite/ unambiguous)


清 = clear (when water is clear, you can see things in it clearly)

楚 = neat = detailed; comprehensive (when things are neatly displayed, you can see the details)

清楚 = clear (clear and detailed/ comprehensive)


明确指引 - clear (and unambiguous) guidelines

清楚指引 - clear (and detailed) guidelines

目標明确 - the goal is clear (and unambiguous)

目標清楚 - the goal is clear (and comprehensive)

More detailed example:

清楚說説每一個細節 - Clearly explain every detail (everything you can think of and everything you can't think of is explained)

明确指出今次行動的目標 - Clearly point out the target of this mission (pointing out and confirm that guy is our target)

Simply put, just remember "明确" as unambiguously clear; "清楚" as comprehensively clear.

Of course, the English word 'clear' implies both 'unambiguous' (e.g. it is clearly him) and 'comprehensive' (e.g. everything clear?). That's why both "明确" and "清楚" can be translated as "clear"


You might say, if you were looking at an object: 我看得清楚。

but not: 我看得明确。


I will give you a short answer:

清楚: Your eyes or ears feel clear;

明确: Your mind feels clear.

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