Recently, on a language exchange platform, I tried to describe one of my favourite books (Thucidides, from which I had to learn a lot of passages) as follows:


Native speakers made several corrections, but I think it is more useful for future users if I split them into different questions.

One of the corrections was that 来源 in 來源和發展 was replaced with 根源。How can I understand the difference of these, so as to pick the correct one in the feature? In English “origins of the Cold War” is a wide spread phrase. Should I pick 根源 whenever I am talking about causal origins?

  • 1
    "敘述它的來源和發展", I feel nothing wrong with the use of 来源 here. On the contrary, 敘述它的根源和發展 sounds a bit off. Probably, 起源 is more formal in this case.
    – dan
    Sep 24, 2021 at 23:52
  • 1
    「一次」 in 「一次內戰」can and should be eliminated.
    – joehua
    Sep 25, 2021 at 2:32

2 Answers 2



Let's translate and compare:

它(內戰)的來源 - Where the civil war originally was coming from?

它(內戰)的根源 - Where the civil war originally was rooted?

You can see the difference between the two, and notice that both are illogical. Because, even though I haven't read the book, it seems the book describes "how" the war (reasoning) started and its development afterward, not "from where", or "where", the war started.

In here "起原", "根原", "原由", all would be a better choice because they express the sense of "root reason", or "root cause".

Lastly, I think you know well that repeating the same pronoun in a sentence with each refers to a different object is a "no-no" in writing.

  • Yes. Now that you say it, the double 它 is a painfully obvious mistake. Funny, what one does, when one is struggling with the language. :(
    – Ludi
    Sep 24, 2021 at 15:44

来 - come

源 - source (literally: source of water)

来源 = source

e.g. 美國毒品的主要来源是墨西哥 (the main source of illegal drugs in the US is Mexico)


根 - root

根源 = root cause; origin

e.g. 欲望是犯罪的根源 (desire is the root cause of crime)


It is better to replace 也來源於此 with 也是源出於此

源出 = origin from; source from ; cause by

根源 is a noun, not a good choice in this context

  • Thank you! We are taking here about the part 来源和发展。for the 来源于此 I opened a separate question!
    – Ludi
    Sep 24, 2021 at 15:49

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