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These are the meanings in the MDBG.net dictionary (based on CC-CEDICT dictionary) 赞赏 to admire / to praise / to appreciate, 欣赏 to appreciate / to enjoy / to admire, 佩服 to admire.

So all of them seem to have the meaning "admire", I am wondering what is the usage of each of them. Examples: 1) I admire Gandhi 2) I admire the scenery 3) I admire your generosity.

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    What do you mean they all mean admire? 赞赏 = praise; 欣赏 = appreciate; 佩服 = admire
    – Tang Ho
    Jul 8 at 11:19
  • I was confused since all of the definition in the dictionary contain the word "admire". Your explanation is helpful. Jul 8 at 11:50
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    I would go along with Tang Ho's explanation with minor addition - 佩服 = admire + acknowledge the superiority of the other's (idea, deed). For example, 佩服佩服, 值得效法or 我不如你.
    – r13
    Jul 8 at 12:52
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  • 赞赏 means 'to praise' (v) or 'praise' (n). You can 欣赏 or 佩服 someone in your mind but not showing it outwardly. However, 赞赏 by definition is an outward expression of admiration (you have to say or write it out)

  • When 欣赏 is used on a non-human object, it refers to 'appreciate' (observe and enjoy)'. e.g. 欣赏歌劇, 欣赏風景

  • When 欣赏 is used on a human object, it refers to 'appreciate (observe and think highly of)' e.g. 局長很欣赏你(的勤快); 我很欣赏德国人(的自律性)

  • 佩服 means 'admire (admit the object has an ability or quality that you don't have or not at the same level, in other words, 'look up to')' e.g. 我很佩服泰森的強悍 (Although I admire his fighting ability, I can still dislike his faults); 我很佩服他够胆顶撞上司 (he has the courage I don't have, although it would probably cost his job)

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欣赏

欣赏 xin1shang3 — is mainly used with inanimate things.

  • 你过来欣赏一下这个场景 Come admire this scenery

赏 specifically refers to observing something likeable. Zdic:

因爱好某种东西而观看

佩服

佩服 pei4fu5 — is mainly used with people, as you correctly say, whom you look up to, or more generally whom you appreciate and praise. It can be used as "admire" someone's abilities or skills.

  • 你女儿高考成绩很高,我很佩服她 Your daughter high school score was very high, I really admire her
  • 佩服佩服 Nice! / Well done! (This is a colloquial usage of the doubled verb, used like an exclamation or interjection, closing a sentence.)
  • 我很佩服她的努力 I really admire her dedication
  • 我很佩服你这么慷慨 I really admire your generosity

赞赏

赞赏 zan4shang3 — is more used as a noun: "appreciation"

  • 为了表示我对他的赞赏,我给他买了一件礼物 I bought him a present in order to show my appreciation towards him
  • 谁还不能赞赏圣雄甘地的教导 Who wouldn't appreciate Gandhi's teachings

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