Recently, on a language exchange platform, I tried to describe one of my favourite books (Thucydides, from which I had to study many 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.

The correction that left me most desperate and frankly shook my conviction that I can ever bring my Chinese to an intermediate level, was when I was told to replace 來源於 with with 來自於。From a Google search it appears that some people at least don’t mind describing the origin of names with 來源於. See here, where the title reads:


But, if I google “这条信息来源于“, many hits are from the same text. Must I only use 來源於 with names and not with most other forms of verbal information? Even a phrase such „Thucydides‘ Trap“? I am very confused!

2 Answers 2


来源于 - (?) comes from. The (?) is something intangible, such as knowledge, concept, story. Name is the symbol of something and is considered intangible.

來自於 - (?) comes from. The (?) is something tangible, an item, goods, commodity...

  • Doesn’t this imply I should use 来源于, as I did and not 来自于, as the correction suggested?!
    – Ludi
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 15:47
  • 1
    信息 is "information", which is intangible. If you mean to say "the letter came from...", then "來自於" is correct, as the letter is written on a piece of paper, that is tangible. Hope this helps to clear the confusion.
    – r13
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 16:02
  • If you mean the information came from the "Thucydides Trap", then correct.
    – r13
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 16:12
  • 1
    Yes, correct, but note the typo (my dictionary told me so :)
    – r13
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 16:15
  • totally right. As a Greek, I know of course how it’s written, but when I start it, my iPad proposes the wrong one!
    – Ludi
    Commented Sep 24, 2021 at 16:41

源 means source as in 起源、來源。

來自於/來自 means where something comes from.
源自於/源於/源自 means where something originates from.

One might say "This orange comes from California 這顆柳橙來自於加州." Since citrus fruit originated from southern China, I would not say 柳橙源於加州, which means, incorrectly, orange first evolved/appeared in California.

I can accept 來自於、來自、源自於、源自 and 源於.來源於 is new to me.

  • Thank you! Very interesting point that the whole combination 來源於 is weird for some speakers!
    – Ludi
    Commented Sep 25, 2021 at 11:43

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