There is a plethora of online simplified to traditional characters converter like this one: https://www.chinese-tools.com/tools/converter-simptrad.html

Is it safe to use them? Won't it cause any mistakes in "translation"? My question boiles down to:

Is the mapping between traditional and simplified characters a one-to-one function? That is, does every simplified character only one traditional character equivalent?

If not, could you list the most prominent examples?

  • 2
    A list of one simplified - multiple tradidtional characters can be found here: zh.wikipedia.org/zh-hans/…
    – 范阮煌
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 15:19
  • 2
    Character mapping is not injective, but automatic converters are smarter these days and map based on words rather than characters. Counterexample that I saw in History SE recently: 六宫即前一宫,后五宫。后五宫指后一宫;三夫人一宫;九嫔一宫;二十七世妇一宫;八十一御妻一宫。 This text is very unlikely to pass an automatic character mapper from Simplified to Traditional.
    – dROOOze
    Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 15:22
  • 3
    The mapping is neither one-to-one nor onto: chinese.stackexchange.com/a/13947/788 Unfortunately, both directions have ambiguity. Commented Apr 13, 2020 at 18:48

3 Answers 3


One simplified character may mapping to multiple traditional ones:

  • 皇后 -> 皇后,後天 -> 后天
  • 頭髮 -> 头发,發財 -> 发财

As reversed, one traditional character may mapping to multiple simplified ones too:

  • 乾燥 -> 干燥,乾隆 -> 乾隆
  • 瞭望 -> 瞭望,瞭解 -> 了解

This wikipedia article had discussed such thing for further reading: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambiguities_in_Chinese_character_simplification

  • In cases where one simplified character equals multiple traditional characters, does that affect the pronunciation as well (at least in Mandarin)?
    – xxpor
    Commented Jan 6, 2023 at 19:17
  • @xxpor In some cases, they are pronounced differently. zh-CN: 头发fà,发fā财,zh-TW: 頭髮fǎ,發fā財
    – tsh
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 3:24

from traditional to simplified, it’s one-to-one.

however, from simplified to traditional, it’s a one-to-multiple

Is it safe to use them?

absolutely no

Won't it cause any mistakes in "translation"?

there’re enough mistakes that is, unsolvable without human recognition.

recently, i quoted the following example in another thread:

in traditional chinese, the terms “郁郁”, “鬰郁”, and “鬱鬱” are three distinguish words. unfortunately, there is only one term for them, in simplified chinese: “郁郁”.

such a sin

other common traps are (list items are in traditional chinese, not mixed):

  • “乾”, “幹”, “干”
  • “臺”, “檯”, “台”
  • ”繫“, “係”, “系”
  • “後”, “后”
  • “發”, “髮”;
  • “蕭”, “肖”

the list is long.

my sincere advice is: adhere to traditional chinese only.


There's a few answers and comments talking about ambiguities arising from mapping from Traditional (T) to Simplified (S). This isn't strictly true. The so-called ambiguous characters actually exist in Traditional Chinese, making the ambiguous mapping from T to S a spelling standardisation problem rather than a character set problem.

For example, 「干」 depicts a forked weapon, and is the only correct character for this sense. The fact that ROC decided to use 「乾」 for the meaning dry, collapsing it with the reading qián (sky, heaven), has no bearing on 「干」's existence in Traditional Chinese.

We can even compare Traditional Chinese using regions which standardise spelling differently. For example, the Taiwanese (ROC) spelling standard collapsed 「著」 and 「着」 both into 「著」, but Hong Kong did not.

The reverse isn't true; 「後」 actually doesn't exist in Simplified Chinese. The PRC simultaneously conducted character form standardisation and spelling standardisation, blurring the concepts together.

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