I just wonder about how to distinguish the words 高价 vs 高架. Both of them seem to have the same pronunciation gāo jià.

Are there any additional cues for distinguishing them in a sentence? or Do people use contextual information to distinguish them?

  • people use contextual information to distinguish them
    – Tang Ho
    Jun 1, 2019 at 4:54
  • Another important thing is they're actually not exactly the same Jun 1, 2019 at 16:21
  • English has a lot of homophones too. How do you distinguish "too", "two", and "to"? Or more confusingly, "raise" and "raze"? Feb 25, 2021 at 16:47

2 Answers 2


As a Chinese native speaker, I use contextual information to distinguish them while listening. It's very common.

Different tones also used to distinguish them. Same pronunciation and same tone is not very common in different Chinese phrase.

Every Chinese pronunciation has many different characters, so you can easily distinguish them by their shapes while reading.


You can not distinguish two different words with the same pinyin. As the sounds of Mandarin are quite limited, and each character has only one syllable, the result is that it is inevitable that many words sound either the same or similar.

My favourite example is 事事, 试试, 事实,实施,失实,石狮,史实

These words can be very confusing using pinyin, but not in characters. Once these words are written in characters, the meanings are crystal clear without the need of any context to explain.

If interested, take a look at this article, https://www.mslmaster.com/index.php/teaching-learning-resources/10-resources/48-why-learning-mandarin-using-only-pinyin-will-create-more-hurdles

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