What is the difference in meaning between 事儿 and 东西. As far as I understand both mean "thing". All help is appreciated.

4 Answers 4


东西 often refers to some concrete object, while 事儿 means matter/affair/business.

你下午有啥事儿吗?- What are you up to this afternoon?

你在吃什么东西?- What are you eating?

  • 1
    东西 (thing) could be abstract ideas too, e.g. 东西 in 有什么东西在阻碍我 could just be my own doubt
    – Tang Ho
    Dec 5, 2021 at 4:30

You can specify them by differ these two phrases: 做事儿,买东西, which partly mean: do a thing, buy a thing.


The former (事儿) is an intangible thing, (an event, a matter, something that happening...), and the latter (东西) is a tangible thing that you can purchase and use.


Its somewhat of a matter of habitual usage and preferential thing way of referring both to, like you have said, 'things'.

I believe the former is more widely used with people from the Northern part of China particular around capital region, the latter is somewhat of a more general usage.

  • 事儿 corresponding to stuff too, not from Hong Kong (maybe not from Taipei) May 26, 2022 at 4:09

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