How do I differentiate between "pear - 梨 (lí)" and “to leave - 离 (lí)”? They both sound exactly the same, so do I just follow the sentence to see which it is? Or is there another way to dissolve this ambiguity? I have searched online for this, but did not manage to find anything.

  • 1
    Maybe it's the same question as How to distinguish two words the same pronunciation but different meaning (gāo jià).
    – Becky 李蓓
    Jun 27, 2022 at 3:48
  • @Becky李蓓 Ah thanks, I didn't see that, so my question is a dupe?
    – DialFrost
    Jun 27, 2022 at 3:49
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    It depends. If you're after 梨 (lí) vs 离 (lí) in particular, then maybe not. But if you're after the general case, then I think it is a dupe. (Note: duplicates are often useful to help people find answers.)
    – Becky 李蓓
    Jun 27, 2022 at 3:50
  • @Becky李蓓 I'm looking at it in particular, because I saw it in my script which I have to read out. thanks
    – DialFrost
    Jun 27, 2022 at 3:51
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    While not a complete answer to your question, it might be worth thinking about how you can distinguish between "there", "their" and "they're" in English, since they are all pronounced the same way.
    – Olle Linge
    Jun 27, 2022 at 7:46

1 Answer 1


The general case is discussed here: How to distinguish two words the same pronunciation but different meaning (gāo jià)

For 梨 (lí) and 离 (lí) in particular, they're readily differentiated by their parts of speech. They're unlikely to be confusable in spoken Chinese: outside of contrived examples, you can't take one and swap it for the other and get a grammatical sentence.

  • 梨 = "pear" is strictly a noun, so we can say 我买了几个梨 = "I bought a few pears", 我喜欢吃梨 = "I like to eat pears". Also it's almost only ever going to arise when we're talking about food (perhaps there are exceptions for proper nouns).

  • 离 by itself is usually used as a preposition, such as in 图书馆离地铁站很近 = "the library is close to the subway station". When used as a verb, it's almost always used as part of a larger word, like 我离不开他 = "I can't leave him" or 我远离家乡 = "I'm a long way from home", or even in chengyu like 不离不弃 or 形影不离.

And we can also simply use 梨子 instead of 梨.

  • 1
    "And we can also simply use 梨子 instead of 梨" ah thanks! accepted
    – DialFrost
    Jun 27, 2022 at 4:43

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