I recently had to select the correct answer for a homework assignment:

我学了10年汉语了,汉语水平 。。。 很高

I chose 一定,but the correct answer turned out to be 当然

Was my answer incorrect, why?

How do these two answers differ in meaning. I'm thinking perhaps that 当然 has a stronger connotation of certainty, as in yes my Chinese level is very high, where as 一定 implies that it should be high, but isn't necessarily... Is this correct?

  • 4
    "我学了10年汉语了,含有水平 。。。 很高" I guess 含有 should be 汉语, am I right? If so, please correct it to avoid possible misunderstandings.
    – Stan
    Mar 30, 2014 at 9:11
  • The whole sentence sounds unnatural. A better way to phrase it would be "我学汉语学了10年,水平 _ _ 高".
    – 杨以轩
    Mar 31, 2014 at 1:57
  • 3。"当然"可以用于前一分局,先肯定事情的某一方面,后一分局再补充不足之处,后一分句中常有"不过、就是、但是"等词语。此时"当然"相当于"虽然","一定"不能这‌​‌​‌​样用:1这套衣服当然漂亮,就是价钱比较贵。(一定✖)2这里的房子当然很好,但是离我上班的地方太远了。(一定✖)3生活在城市中当然方便,不过空气不太好。(一‌​定✖‌​)4‌​。"一定"还表示对某种情况确切的估计或推测,相当于"肯定";"当然"无此用法:1你一定以为他在骗你,其实他说的是真话。(当然✖)2大家都相信这件事‌​一定不是‌​你做的。‌​(当然✖)3忙了一天,你一定累了吧?。(当然✖)5。"一定"可以表示强烈的决心和坚定的意志,还可以用于祈使句,表示请求或命令;"当然"没有‌​这些用法:1‌​无论如何,这‌​次我一定要通过考试。(当然✖)2李红说毕业以后一定要找个好工作。(当然✖)3到时候你可一定要来呀!4你一定要帮帮我呀!。(当然✖)
    – user6065
    Aug 27, 2015 at 16:22
  • According to the above quotation from "实用汉语近义虚词词典"correcting would have to be justified by arguing that 一定 would mean a subjective affirmation, including personal conclusion or inference, on the other hand 当然 means "reasoning rationally, there can be little doubt that" i.e. "of course" and it would appear that in the present case the latter situation applies.按照上述工具书条目,"一定"意味着主观的肯定包括个人的结论或推测,另一方面"当然"意味着"按道理肯定是这样"或者基于(任何人的)理性推理是这样。好像后一种情况适用于有关句话。因此提出的校正看来很有道理。
    – user6065
    Aug 28, 2015 at 16:30

6 Answers 6


一定 either introduces an INFERENCE, which is very likely to be true (as in the context of the given sentence), or shows a strong intention (in other contexts). On the other hand, 当然, equivalent to the English 'of course', indicates an inevitable consequence that the speaker KNOWS to be true.

In this sentence, since the speaker is talking about himself, he does not need to make an inference about him being good at Chinese; he knows he is good at Chinese. Therefore 当然 would make more sense here.

An easy way to differentiate the two is to translate the sentence into English with 一定 and 当然 replaced by 'must be' and 'of course', respectively, and you will be able to immediately see which one is better.

  • great answer! although this seems to be contrary to what user1228520 says in his answer about 一定 being more certain. I think your answer is correct but I'm a bit confused now.. Mar 30, 2014 at 1:48
  • 1
    Well, I guess a better way to put this is that 一定 makes you SOUND more 'certain' than 当然. By saying 一定, you are making a guess, but you believe that guess is very likely (say, >98%) correct. And you sound eager to show off this high probability. For 当然, depending on the context, you may be stating an obvious fact in an indifferent tone, but everyone knows that it is 100% true. Again, just compare 'must' and 'of course' and you will know what I am talking about. Mar 30, 2014 at 2:08

This question is really tricky. As a native speaker, I would say it depends on what the speaker is trying to say here.

It's really hard to explain so I put up some English translations that have very close meaning and tone to both 当然 and 一定


I've been learning Chinese for 10 years, OF COURSE my level is very high.


I've been learning Chinese for 10 years, my level is DEFINITELY very high.

I've been learning Chinese for 10 years, my level MUST be very high.

So basically 一定 is more like a judgment and is more certain. From the English examples above you could see that all of them are right in terms of language itself.

But I believe, not many people would say themselves must be good at something. To me it sound more natural if saying about others like "He's been learning Chinese for 10 years, his level MUST be very high." The same concern is valid in Chinese, I guess that's why the correct answer is 当然

  • 1
    Yes, another example in English: 'He walked for 10 miles, he must be tired' is okay, but 'I walked for 10 miles, I must be tired' isn't, while 'of course I'm tired' would be. You know for certain whether you are tired or not, so it sounds weird to use 'must be'.
    – neubau
    Mar 30, 2014 at 1:36

一定 means "definitely," while 当然 means "of course." In both English and Chinese, these two words have very similar meanings. They pretty much have the same denotation; I can't think of an example where it would be factually accurate to use one and factually inaccurate to use the other. However, they differ in their connotation. Both express certainty, but 当然 does so in a way that presumes the certainly should be obvious.

In your case, since the person studied Chinese for 10 years, it is obvious (at least to the speaker) that he is good at it. Note that if the sentence were this instead:

他学了10年汉语了,含有水平 。。。 很高

both would be acceptable, but have slightly different connotations. 一定 implies that the speaker is inferring that that person must be good at Chinese since they've been learning it for 10 years. 当然 implies that the speaker knows that that person is good at Chinese and using the fact that they have been learning it for 10 years as evidence to support this "obvious" point.


"一定" means "definitely".

We use this word when you confirm something is truth.

For example, you can write: "我*一定*去" means:

I confirm that i will go.

"当然"(write "當然" when you translate it into traditional Chinese) means "of course".

We use this word when you describe something as "certainly", "no doubt", or "the result will happen naturally".

For example, you can write: "我*當然*去" means:

I will surely go.

Remember, 一定 is a stronger than 當然 when describe something.

More example: "理所当然" means something is reasonable and no doubt.

You think or you judge something is reasonable, so you do it because you think it's right.

But it does not confirm something. If you have evidence and confirm something is right, you can use 一定


I think there is a typo, it should be 汉语水平...很高, not 含有水平...很高。

however, whether it is a typo or not, your question is already explained by the previous answerers


Usually, when we say "一定" under this circumstance, it sounds like the speaker is inferring something, so when you try to express the truth that you've learned Chinese for 10 years, and your Chinese proficiency is pretty high, you are not inferring this truth.

For example, if you say that your friend has been learning Chinese for 10 years, and you think his Chinese must be(一定) pretty good! In this case, for something you're not really sure but you just think it should be, use "一定"。 However, when you say I've learned Chinese for 10 years, and I'm confidently proficient in Chinese, you are actually showing off that your Chinese is really good! So you use "当然" to show that you're fully confident with you Chinese proficiency and you're proud of that and cannot wait to show off your Chinese.

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