I am in doubt whether 让, 令 and 使 are interchangeable, and if not, how to differentiate their use. What I understood so far:

让 tends to be used in spoken language and it's pretty universal, meaning to let, to enable or to make (also with feelings), as per examples below. Is that right?

  1. 让我更理解书本上的知识
  2. 让他在外面等
  3. 让我看一看
  4. 让他在外面等
  5. 让不可能成为可能
  6. 这辈子让我操心的事可太多了
  7. 让我想起
  8. 请把车停到里面,好让别人走路

令 is used mainly in written language and is mainly about making somebody feel something. Is that right?

  1. 令生活变得复杂
  2. 令我感到悲伤

使 I thought it's similar to 令 but then I see it has some uses similar to 让

  1. 它使人们更加关心世界气候变化的问题了
  2. 这样使得学习中文变得更加有趣
  3. 工能使人成长

Can you help me understand the different nuances and in which context each of them can/should be used? Thank you so much!

2 Answers 2


让 is frequently used in speech, usually translated with "to make somebody do something" or "to let". Your other examples illustrate it nicely.

让我想一想 (= let me think a bit)

The most fundamental difference between 让 and 使 is that 使 means basically "cause to", therefore it's used mostly when it refers to inanimate entities or when there is no intention.

山火使空气严重污染 (= wildfires cause the air to become heavily polluted)

中国经济增长使新西兰获益 (= China's economic growth causes New Zealand to profit)

You can of course translate that more liberally, but the basic meaning remains. Note that 让 can some times be used with inanimate subjects too. I see that as a colloquialism.

令 is more formal, but used in speech as well, mostly in constructions like 令人X where X is some phrase denoting feelings. Your understanding is correct.





Generally, [讓|令|使] might be interchangeable.

[讓|令|使]我更理解書本上的知識 correct.

[讓|令|使]他在外面等, e.g. 這場大雨(讓)(令)(使)他在外面枯等了兩小時. We usually don't just say or use 令他在外面等, because 令他在外面等 means you give him an ORDER, stay outside and wait.

[讓]我看一看, [令|使]我看一看 is odd but understandable to native user.

[讓|令|使]不可能成為可能 correct.

這輩子[讓|令|使]我操心的事可太多了 correct.

[讓|令|使]我想起 correct.

請把車停到裡面,好[讓]别人走路, 好[令|使]别人走路 is odd but understandable to native user.

[讓|令|使]生活變得複雜 correct.

[讓|令|使]我感到悲傷 correct.

它[讓|令|使]人們更加關心世界氣候變化的問题了 correct.

這樣[讓|令|使|使得]學中文變得更加有趣 correct. e.g. 新式的教學方法令中文學習變得更加有趣.

工能[讓|令|使]人成長 (Does 工 mean 工作?) correct.

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