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I want to know if the difference between those words related with "pain".

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疼痛 means physical pain, but it is very formal, and usually used in medical speak. This is also similar to 痛楚, which is also too formal for casual conversation.

For example: 肌肉疼痛是感冒病徵。 ~Muscle pain/aches is a flu symptom.

The words 疼 and 痛 are usually used in solidarity, in Mandarin and Cantonese respectively.

For example: (In Mandarin) 我肚子疼。(In Cantonese) 我肚痛。 ~I have a stomachache.

On the contrary, 痛苦 means pain in general. It could still be physical, but usually mental or even metaphorical.

For example: 生產的過程很痛苦。 ~Giving birth is painful.

Bad example: 他看來很痛苦。is as vague as "It looks like he is in pain". It could be physical or mental, and depends on the context.

Another example: 學習中文很痛苦。 ~Learning Chinese is painful. (Based on true experience)

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  • I understand, your explanation is very interesting! So, is there a word to say exclusively "pain" but not physical, only kind of mental pain? If the character 痛 is used for it, it would be better for me. – user26544 Oct 7 at 18:16
  • I would argue that 痛苦 works most of the time. But not 痛. 痛 by itself is exclusively physical pain. – player3236 Oct 7 at 19:34
  • Ok, I see. Thanks, now it's much clearer for me. – user26544 Oct 8 at 12:44
  • @user26544 I think both could go physical pain, but to be specific, in a hospital,“疼”:急性的、时间短的、表面的;“痛”是慢性的,长久的,内在的。 – Shaw Oct 9 at 1:19
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疼痛 generally refers to physical pain. 痛苦 is a general term, it could be physical, mental, metaphorical.

player3236's example "學習中文很痛苦" is the best.

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