There are two characters 联 and 连. They are both pronounced lián, and they both mean "to join" in the dictionary. What is the distinction between them?

  • As a side note, it is believed by one of the Qing-dynasty annotators of the Shuowen Jiezi, Duan Yucai 段玉裁, that both were variant characters from different dynasties for the same word (周人用聯字,漢人用連字,古今字也). I've not seen modern analyses on this though. This 聯~連 word has also been linked to Tibetan གྲལ gral.
    – Michaelyus
    Nov 17, 2023 at 16:25

4 Answers 4


连 is usually to connect in a physical way, i.e. 连线 (draw a line between two entities), 连接 (to connect things). 联 is more metaphysical, i.e. 联合 (to union), 联系 (connection, in the metaphoric sense), 联络 (to communicate).


... they both mean "to join"

The fact is, they are two different words that contain the meaning of "to join/ connect" when they are used as a verb

  • Both 在一起 and 在一起 mean "to join together"

Their other meanings do not overlap with each other.

连 also means "consecutive"

  • 连续(consecutive/ continuous) cannot be changed to 联续

  • 连年征战 (year after year of fighting) cannot be changed to 联年征战


联 also means " to ally"

  • 联盟(alliance/ coalition) cannot be changed to 連盟

  • 联宋灭金 (ally with the Song Dynasty to destroy the Jin Dynasty) cannot be changed to 連宋灭金


联 doesn't really mean "to join" though. It's generally used to denote "ally" or "unite." For example, 聯合國, 聯軍, 聯盟.

The two characters have overlaps and can be used interchangably at times.


Although and both mean 连接(connect) and 联合(join), there are some subtle differences in their usage.

In general:

  • focuses more on physical connection, which can refer to the continuous connection of things in space or time.
  • is more inclined to abstract union, emphasizing the joint cooperation of organizations, groups, concepts, etc. in thoughts, goals or actions.


  • verb.

连接connect , join


Connect the computer and router with a network cable.


The opened link is used to join the two ends of the chain.

  • adverb.

连续, 相接 (in succession, be joined)


He shot several times in a row, but none of them hit the target.


The trees are joined together.

  • verb.



This game requires us to work together with other teams to complete this game.

  • preposition.

包括 (include)


This bread including the packaging bag weighs 1 kilogram in total.

  • preposition.

It expresses emphasis (usually used with the character or ), and contains the meaning of 甚至(even).


He didn't even say sorry.

  • noun.

It represents a modern military organizational unit. Company (military unit)


He was commended by the company commander for his distinguished performance in the battle.


It means 联合 or 联结.

  • verb.

联合( join, unite )


We need to unite against terrorism.


We decided to join forces with other companies to develop a new market strategy.

联系( connect, contact )


Mobile phones help people connect with others.


You can contact us by e-mail.

  • noun.

联盟( alliance, league, union )


The alliance stands ready to do what is necessary.


He played some minor league baseball.


That is why Chancellor Merkel has said that there will be no "debt union".

联络/联系 ( contact, connection )


I don't have much contact with my uncle.


What is the connection between the two ideas?

  • noun.

It represents well-structured antithetical phrases in poetry.

对联(对仗工整的语句)( poetic couplet ),上联下联


He put up red couplets on the doors.


Both the first and second couplets of this poem are well written.

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