I have a hunch about the difference between 八方 and 四处.

四处 includes north, south, west and east. 八方 includes these four + up, down, forward, backward.

Three questions:

  1. Is my assumption correct?
  2. Do native speakers really differenciate between these two phrases or they use them interchangibly?
  3. Is there a reason why 八 is connected with 方 and not with 处? Is there a difference in the sense of "direction" given by 方 and 处?

4 Answers 4


四方 / 四处



  • 四处 (or 四方) = north, south, east and west




  • 八方 = (north, south, east and west) + southeast, northeast, southwest and northwest

四方 and 四处 can be used interchangeably. There is also a third one: 四面.

Another word you might want to know:

  • 十面 = ((north, south, east and west) + southeast, northeast, southwest and northwest) + up and down.

八处 doesn't seem to be a thing, but 八面 does exist.

  • 1
    十 in 十面 is a metaphorical number. It implies 'all' or 'total' as in 十面埋伏 (ambush in all directions); 十全十美 (perfect in all aspects)
    – Tang Ho
    Nov 5, 2020 at 13:52

Many Chinese numbers are used as a metaphorical number

  • 四 in 四处 (everywhere) doesn't mean 'four', it means 'every'

  • 四 in 四面 (all sides) doesn't mean 'four', it means 'all'

  • When 面 is used as a classifier, 四 would be a regular number 'four' e.g. 房屋的四面墙 (the four walls of the house)

  • 八 in 八方 (all directions) doesn't mean 'eight', it means 'all'

  • 四面八方 is more often written as 四方八面, both mean 'everywhere; all directions'

  • 十 in 十面 (all sides) doesn't mean 'ten', it means 'all' or total as in 十面埋伏 (ambush in all directions); 十全十美 (perfect in all aspects)


四面、八方、十方、十面 or 四面八方 usually means everywhere or every directions.


從四面八方過來的人潮讓這裡熱鬧非凡。(It means people come from everywhere instead of from east, west, north, south..etc.)


I take 四处 as everywhere, 八方 north, south, west and east,northeast, Northwest, southeast, southwest.

Basically, they are not interchangeable. E. g. 你四处找找。 not 你八方找找。

八方 is usually used in the phrase 四面八方(from all the directions;everywhere). E. g. 四面八方到处都是人。

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