I know a few words for "thing“, including 东西 and 事情. I've looked online, and haven't found any other commonly used words, or indication of when to use which. Are they the same? Is one more formal than another? Is there a better, more formal word I should use? Or is the word "thing" just not used a lot in Chinese?



4 Answers 4


「事情」refers to an event or situation. I wouldn't translate it as thing; the only situation where thing is an acceptable translation is something like


He went to take care of something

But something could have easily been substituted with a situation.

I disagree with the other answers here; there are several things that are abstract but which can be referred to as a「東西」.


Emotions are a very strange thing

You cannot replace this with「感情是個奇怪的事情」, which doesn't make sense.




thing has means of "东西” and “事情”, while you point to goods it means "东西”, while you point to matter it means "事情”。 It's used widely in Chinese.


事情: an abstract noun, means things, or matter, event.

  1. 事情进展怎么样了?
    How it the thing/matter going?
  2. 这件事情你怎么解释?
    How do you explain the thing/event?

东西: a concrete noun, means things, or stuff, goods.

  1. 东西太贵了,我们负担不起。
    The things/goods are so expensive that we could not afford.
  2. 集市上有各种各样的东西。
    There are a varieties of things/stuff in the market.

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