Fairly straightforward. I know -地 is used to turn adjectives into adverbs and that justifies the use of 分别地 (the internet attributes it the meanings "separately" and/or "respectively"), but from a cursory search of the internet I've found just as many examples of "分别" by its lonesome carrying the exact same meaning. Is there any difference at all between these two terms? If not, what considerations should I have for cases such as this where an adverb is valid regardless of whether it uses 地?

分别 分别地

2 Answers 2


Some words do not require 地 to be an adverb but we can add 地 to them to emphasizes 'the manner' of the subject


一致反對 = unanimously oppose (the objection is unanimous)

一致地反對 = unanimously oppose (oppose in a unanimous manner)

猛烈攻擊 = fiercely attack (the attack is fierce)

猛烈地攻擊 = fiercely attack (attack in a fierce manner)

強力支持 = strongly support (the support is strong)

強力地支持 = strongly support (support in a strong manner)

In some cases, adding 地 can remove ambiguity. For examples: "猛烈攻擊" could mean [fierce(adj) attack (n)] or [fiercely (adv) attack (v)] while "猛烈地攻擊" can only mean [fiercely (adv) attack (v)]; "強力支持" could mean [strong (adj) support (n)] or [strongly (adv) support (v)] while "強力地支持" can only mean [strongly (adv) support (v)]

Another way to remove ambiguity is using 的 to indicate adjective and noun, e.g. 猛烈的攻擊, 強力的支持


分别 is a verb: to part (going separate ways), 我们马上要分别了。; extended to noun (but not precisely): separation 三年前的分别让她伤心欲绝。(better use 分手 here). Yes, the main function of 地 is to turn adjectives into adverbs, but not just adjective, in some cases, when there is no suitable adjective, you can also use verb: 许多独裁者经常掠夺地侵略别的国家。here 掠夺 is a verb, but more vividly used into adverb. 分别地 actually used the denotation (not direct meaning) of 分别 as "separate" concept.

  • [分别(v): to part ] and [分别 (adv): separately] are two different things just like [樹木] in "十年樹木,百年樹人" doesn't mean [樹木 (n) tree], but [樹(v) to plant ] + [木(n) tree]
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Sep 17, 2020 at 23:18
  • do you mean 分别 in "三年前的分别“ is an adjective, not a noun? Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 3:10
  • I mean the 分别 in "三年前的分别 and the 分别 in "把可燃和不可燃垃圾分別放在不同的箱中" are different things; "樹木" is a noun for "tree", but 樹木 in "十年樹木" is a verb 樹 (plant and grow) acting on the noun 木(tree)
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 3:18
  • That's quite common in Chinese, dual function for so many characters/terms. Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 9:10
  • That's why I always remind my student to use "to" in classifying verbs: to be, to have, to play, ... etc. 引导: to lead. (lead can be a noun as mineral). It's good habit. Commented Sep 18, 2020 at 9:14

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