What’s the difference between 费解 vs 难懂? I know they both mean “hard to understand” but can they be used interchangeably? When should you use one over the other and why?

Are these sentences right? Correct these sentences if they are wrong please 1.这句话让我很费解。 这句话让我很难懂。

2.这真令人费解。 这真令人难懂。

3.他的一番莫名其妙的话让我费解。 他的一番莫名其妙的话让我难懂。

4.这本书比较难懂。 这本书比较费解。

  • 1
    费解 - one has no clue on the meaning of a statement or act of a person, as in "I don't understand why he said that", or "....why she did that". 难懂 - a subject that is difficult to understand, such as "The advanced mathematics is too difficult to understand", or "He is a person that is difficult to understand". However, both terms mean one is "puzzled, or bothered" by something, which can be an event, a person's statement or act, or a subject in study. So they are often used interchangeably. – r13 Apr 24 at 22:26
  • Please show me example sentences – jinglingmen Apr 25 at 2:23
  • 1
    "Derek Chauvin's motivation is difficult to understand.." - "他的動機很(另人) 费解", you have no clue on his motivation, but tried to analyze it with no avail. On the other hand, the sentence can also be "他的動機很难懂", you feel it is a complicated matter and don't bother to think through it or put up a guess. You can see the former speaker has a more engaged attitude towards this subject, while the latter gave up on this subject easily - 太難懂了, 不想了. – r13 Apr 25 at 3:20
  • thank you so much – jinglingmen Apr 25 at 4:20
  • You are welcome. – r13 Apr 25 at 4:50

费解 = have difficulty understanding (You can't think of any reason for that to happen)

令人费解 (make people have difficulty understanding) = incomprehensible


  • Your friendly dog suddenly attacks you is an incomprehensible event (you cannot think of any reason for that to happen)

  • Ignoring more guns lead to more gun violence is an incomprehensible act (you cannot think of any reason for anyone to think like that)

难懂 = difficult to understand (something is too complex or confusing to be understood)


  • The Mandarin he speaks is difficult to understand because of his heavy Cantonese accent (you get confused)

  • Calculation of rocket trajectory to the moon is difficult to understand (too complex for a layman)

1.这句话让我很费解。 这句话让我很难懂。

这句话很让人费解。 这句话很难懂。

Better use 让人费解 (make everyone have difficulty understanding) instead of 让我费解 (make only I have difficulty understanding) to express 'incomprehensible'

2.这真令人费解。 这真令人难懂。

这真令人费解。 这真难懂。

3.他的一番莫名其妙的话让我费解。 他的一番莫名其妙的话让我难懂。

他的一番莫名其妙的话让人费解。 他的一番莫名其妙的话十分难懂。

4.这本书比较难懂。 这本书比较费解。

这本书比较难懂(O)。 这本书比较费解 (X)。

  • 费解 (have difficulty understanding) is rarely used alone, It is always 令人费解 (make people have difficulty understanding = incomprehensible)

  • 令我难懂/令人难懂 (make me/ people difficult to understand) is not grammatical-- 令人 is a verb, 难懂 is an adjective

  • ♦ thank you so much – jinglingmen Apr 25 at 4:24

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