As I know, 竟然 and 居然 both mean "unexpectedly". Do they have any difference?

  • Note that many other form of English sentence can also be translated using this manner. e.g. "What? You should have not known that?" "How you dare speak to me like that!" Apr 24, 2014 at 20:25

1 Answer 1


They are very similar. The difference is that 竟然 is more used in a negative situation where the unpleasant result is out of control and beyond the expectation, while 居然 could be used in both good(i.e. surprise) and bad (i.e. accident).

  • 4
    Disagreed. Both words can be used in positive or negative situations. The difference is that 居然 is more emphatic. see this article: pep.com.cn/xiaoyu/jiaoshi/tbjx/xy_jcdy/xydy4/201008/…
    – Rephinx
    Apr 25, 2014 at 7:52
  • 1
    Agree with Rephinx. I can think of many situations where 竟然 can be used in a positive light. Apr 28, 2014 at 2:49

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