Is the language used in Chinese historical dramas usually antiquated/extra formal, and does that make them a bad (or maybe just too advanced) resource for practicing one's Mandarin? (I've just closed off HSK3, for reference.) There are a number of dramas I'd like to watch (mainly "The Untamed / 陈情令" and "Oh My General / 将军在上"), but I'm wondering if they'll get me used to out-dated language and cause me to sound like I'm 500 years old :^)

  • These kinds of "study methods" questions tend to attract close votes here, although they are welcome questions at Language Learning. We can migrate this question there, if you like.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 0:19
  • 2
    Modern dramas are better than historical drama because actors speak more modern Chinese in modern dramas. But most of historical drama use modern Chinese in usual, but sometimes some ancient words will be used, if you use them in real life, it's a little unnatural.
    – T-Pioneer
    Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 1:03
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    Watch both, historical & "modern". It is from historical dramas that the beauty of the language comes through. Modern Chinese include a lot of slang. Unless your leisure time is so restricted that you have to opt for only one? Commented Aug 16, 2020 at 4:49
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    You can compare the "formal" language in historical drama to Shakespear-aged English. That is what we feel, and what the TV shows want us to feel.
    – River
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 14:11

3 Answers 3


You can just learn the pronunciation in historical drama. There are no doubt that the language you learn from historical drama must be out-dated language.Such as “盘缠” means money, but we all use “钱” now.

If you want learn language from TV play, i think you can watch urban drama instead of historical dram.


Your worry is reasonable. Historical/fantasy TV series of China do use deprecated or ancient expressions which may not be suitable in modern daily use.
I'd rather recommend documentaries or casual talk shows in CCTV-4 with dual subtitle, which use standard modern Chinese spoken by middle-class Chinese people.


I think it's okay to be use the old word, old words always so beautiful No problem in using it 😭🫶

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