This is a photo from my year-7 maths textbook (click to enlarge; alternative version):

year-7 maths textbook photo


I understand what it's saying: calculate 30+(-20) and (-20)+30 and check if they give the same result (i.e., commutativity = 交换率). But I don't understand why there is a 和 in 两次所得的和相同吗? If I were to rewrite the question, I'd write 两次所得的都是相同吗? I'm tempted to think the 和 is incorrect, but it might be something specific to mathematics.

Question: In my maths textbook, what is 和 doing in the question 两次所得的和相同吗?

  • 1
    和 sum;差 difference.
    – joehua
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 1:11
  • 2
    Haha! I can't believe I just asked a question, and the answer is basically "you don't know a meaning of a HSK1 word".
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 1:40
  • @Becky李蓓 That's not a HSK1 word. The character is from HSK1, but certainly not the word. :)
    – Olle Linge
    Commented Jul 27, 2022 at 10:57

3 Answers 3


In Maths terms, 和 as in '总和'(n) means 'sum'


Are the sums from the two calculations the same?

e.g. 2 + 2 = 4 --> 二加二的得数(count)是四 ; 二加二的(sum)是四

  • 2
    Add: This would be very obvious in spoken Chinese with intonation. One would very likely put a stress on 和, indicating it's a content word than a function word.
    – iBug
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 20:43

和 is a mathematical term "sum".

差 is also a mathematical term "difference".

  • 2
    It seems there's also 积 for "product". I'm not sure if there's a character for "quotient".
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 4:25
  • 3
    @Becky李蓓 商 means quotient. A similar character is 比, which means ratio.
    – L. F.
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 4:27
  • 1
    also 方 for power, as in 平方, 立方, 四次方...
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jul 26, 2022 at 20:43

Let me give some complements. First, these terms are quite general. For example, 和 is also used in direct sum, 积 is also used for tensor product, Cartesian product and product space. 商 is also used for quotient space, quotient topology and so on.

Similarly, the result of $a^b$ is called 幂mi4 where "a" is called 底数 and "b" is called 指数.

These are really traditional terminology in chinese before the modern time, therefore more or less related to some ancient chinese convention or grammar. For example, in division, 3/2 can be stated as 二除三 or equivalently 三除以二, pay attention to the word "以" which means "by".

Perhaps you will be interested in some other traditional chinese words in mathmatics. In ancient chinese, the mathematics is called “算术”, namely the "technique of computation", but now we call it "数学", namely the "study of number".

And one of my favourite Chinese theorems goes like “缘幂势既同,则积不容异”, concise and precise. See https://zh.wikipedia.org/zh-hans/%E7%A5%96%E6%9A%85%E5%8E%9F%E7%90%86.

For elementary mathematics terminology, it is sufficient to look up something like "mathematics dictionary for primary students", which I think more efficient for you.

Personally, I strongly recommend you read the book by Li Wenwei who has both deep knowledge to algebra and elegant style of chinese math writing. See 李文威的学术主页

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