I have seen both even in the same context. For example:

enter image description here

May I know the difference and when should one use which?

Thank you!

4 Answers 4


The spelling 「台灣」 is not official in Taiwan, and receives no entries in the Republic of China's Ministry of Education dictionaries (萌典, 教育部重編國語辭典修訂本, 教育部國語辭典簡編本).

Its prevalence in online media is most likely due to IMEs listing 「台灣」 before 「臺灣」 in Taiwanese phonetic input systems when typing "taiwan" or "ㄊㄞㄨㄢ" on a computer.* This has nothing to do with handwritten simplifications, as things like 「身體」, 「學習」, etc. do not appear as 「身体」 or 「学習」 in Traditional Chinese websites.

Even though one "shouldn't" use the spelling 「台灣」, everyone recognises what 「台灣」 is supposed to be, and this spelling is overwhelmingly prevalent in Taiwan itself, so it doesn't really matter (except when referring to governmental agencies). I would just be cautious in its usage, as the overwhelming (and erroneous) prevalence of 「台」 for the name Taiwan has led people to forget that 「台」 is properly pronounced in the first tone as tāi when used in proper nouns and never as tái.

*This is true from personal experience. Ironically, using a PRC input system set to Traditional Chinese will only list 「臺灣」 and not 「台灣」 when one types "taiwan".

  • I am using a PRC input system in traditional Chinese and it does show "台灣" but "taibei" shows as "臺北" for some reason. Commented Aug 20, 2021 at 9:51

I'm a Taiwanese. '台' is a simplified version of '臺', and they mean exactly the same. NTU's official name is 國立臺灣大學, and we usually call it 台大. It's just a difference between speaking formally or casually. Usually, you'll see "臺"灣 on formal headlines or official documents, because when publishing something serious or when taking an exam, it's preferred to write in strict traditional Chinese.

But in daily conversation and when handwriting, we use a couple simplified words (simply because it's faster and easier) like '台'灣、身'体'、'学"習. The tricky thing is, we only write some particular words in their simplified version, so it's very easy to tell if you're a Traditional Chinese user or a Simplified Chinese user(like people in China)

When typing, we type 99% of words in Traditional Chinese, "台"灣 is a very rare exception. Hope these help.

  • No no, I’m saying, we use 台灣 instead of 臺灣 all the time, and this is a rare exception to the rule of thumb “we type most of the words in Traditional Chinese.” Most of the time, our typing system doesn’t even have simplified Chinese in it (you need to switch to the simplified typing system for that), but ‘台‘ is one of the few simplified words that we use all the time, and it’s definitely more common than ‘臺’ in daily use.
    – JS LIN
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 4:47
  • Sorry, I had error in my brain and I misunderstood, now I understand thanks.
    – 000
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 14:34

an old debate lah :)

in 2010, the ministry of education (教育部), of taiwan “declared” that:

all documentations of the ministry, schools, publishers must use “臺灣”. however, other ministries are “informed” (haven’t the authority to force them to follow).

if you can read traditional chinese, read the news here (between the lines, please)


historically, the chinese empire annexed formosa in 1683; most, if not all documentations, used “臺灣”, not “台灣”. eg: in the the official declarations:

臺灣孤懸海外﹒自古不入版圖 [欽定平定臺灣紀畧]

enter image description here

臺灣自古不通中國 [皇清職貢圖]

enter image description here

if the situation is sensitive, or, formal; stick to “臺灣” 😼


The term 臺灣 is more formal while the term 台灣 is more casual. Both are acceptable in Taiwan.

  • 2
    Hi, welcome to Chinese Language Stack Exchange! :) Do you have any sources that substantiate your answer that one term is more formal than the other? You'll notice many of the other answers provide sources that back up their claims. Indeed, OP demonstrates how a single document contains both usages, indicating that they are, at first glance, somewhat interchangeable.
    – Marko
    Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 3:40

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