With the meaning of lying down, what's the difference between these three characters? 躺 vs 卧 vs 趴

3 Answers 3


Quote:- "With the meaning of lying down...."

Yes, but as in English there are different words for different "lying down" positions.

The Chinese words you mentioned describe some of these positions.

Face up = 躺 = the supine position = lying horizontally with the face and torso facing up;

Face down = 趴 = the prone position, which is face down;

Crouch position = 卧 = bending low with the limbs close to the body; as in "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" -- 卧虎藏龙

There is also the "Fetal Position" = 胎儿姿势 = lying or sitting curled, with limbs close to the torso and the head close to the knees.

  • 1
    卧虎藏龙, the movie, is both iconic and pivotal on many levels, personal and movie history, being the second Chinese martial arts movie to have a truly World wide audience, (after Bruce Lee movies) Glad that it inspired you to learn Chinese, though it takes a pandemic to catalyze it. Do hope that your level of language proficiency will one day enable you to read Chinese martial arts novels of which I am a life long addict. You'll know what I mean when you get there. Seeing that you still need help to differentiate 躺, 卧, 趴, it'll be some time yet. Hope the pandemic don't last that long :( 后会有期!!! Dec 10, 2021 at 8:51
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    If you could devote 2 hours of study per day, you should, with a dictionary, be able to attempt reading a teaser in the novel titled "三少爷的剑" by 古龙, (a very famous author who wrote in a non-classical style) gulongbbs.com/book/ssydj Keep at it, nothing comes easy, even for Chinese people. My advice, forget about trying to analyze Chinese passages using English grammatical rules. You are not going for exams. Just study the various meanings each word conveys, singly and in combination. In time the "structure" of the language emerges, and you wonder what the fuss was all about. 祝你好运 Dec 12, 2021 at 7:35
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    In terms of the phrase 方面, on its own it is a very common, i.e. commonly used everyday phrase. Actually "regarding" is perfectly acceptable in this particular context. But 保险方面 means "regarding insurance" only if you read 保险方面的问题 as "one single component element" Just 保险方面 on its own means -- this "aspect" of insurance. It is the 的问题, (it should be "problems" here BTW in this context), that makes it "regarding" It's confusing I know, but you'll get the "feel" of it as you improve. Be patient. I doubt you would get a sentence like that if you were to attend a formal beginners' class. Dec 12, 2021 at 15:37
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    BTW, our Moderators do not encourage asking Questions on the comments column. They prefer that it be "properly" asked as a Question so as to reach a wider audience with more input from other Contributors. Dec 12, 2021 at 15:40
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    Finally, from my answer you should know what I meant by "Just study the various meanings each word conveys, singly and in combination. In time the "structure" of the language emerges" In the Chinese language the "structure" dictates the various shades of meanings ascribe to words and combination of words. Dec 12, 2021 at 15:54
  • 躺 = lie - you can lie face up, face down, or sideways, but 躺 is more often used for the action that is voluntary. For example, 躺在地上裝死 (lying on the ground and pretending to be dead)

  • 卧 = lie - you can lie face up, face down, or sideways. We use 卧 for voluntary or involuntary action. For example, 臥牀不起 (laying in bed and can't get up - involuntary); 倒臥血泊 (laying on your own pool of blood - involuntary); 臥薪嗜膽 (laying on firewood and taste a gall bladder - voluntary)

The main difference between 躺 and 卧 is 躺 is more colloquial and 卧 is more literary.


側身躺著, 仰天躺著, 面朝下躺著 = 側臥, 仰臥, 俯臥

臥牀不起 = 躺在床上起不了來

  • 趴 = lie (in prone position) - you can only 趴 face down, and it is a very colloquial word (the literary version is 伏 - you can only 伏 face down)

卧Generally used to form words. 卧槽 卧室bedroom 卧薪尝胆 坐卧不安be unable to sit down or sleep at ease 卧冰求鲤This is an allusion,means show filial to parents

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