What is the difference between 早 and 早晨? I hear people say 早晨好 sometimes.

Does it refer to a different time in the day? They both say morning in my dictionary.

  • 2
    dialect thing. 早晨 is preferred in Cantonese. 早/早上好 is preferred in Mandarin (mainland). And 早安 is more often heard in Taiwan.
    – Stan
    May 23, 2014 at 0:47
  • @Stan I've also heard 你早 from a Chinese teacher born & raised in 哈尔滨. Do you know if this is common, or Northern regional, or just plain uncommon?
    – Ming
    May 23, 2014 at 1:58
  • @Ming I think it's common in Northern / Northeastern China (I've been in Shenyang for several years). And it only sounds right in Mandarin or Mandarin-like dialect to me. BTW, in my own experience, it seems "你早" isn't often used by young people -- I don't know why.
    – Stan
    May 23, 2014 at 5:56
  • @Stan ahh yeah I haven't heard it really from many people. Thanks :)
    – Ming
    May 25, 2014 at 23:56

3 Answers 3


早 is not morning, it means "early" in general. 我早知道了!吃早饭。

早上 is morning in general. 早上好!

早晨 is also morning, but earlier, at daybreak, in the very early morning hours.

The day is divided into twelve 时辰, where 寅时 is before dawn, the 凌晨.

Then comes the 卯时 between 5 and 7, the 黎明, the dawn.

辰时 is the next two hour period between 7 and 9, the 早晨.

After 9 is 上午, but 早上 refers to the greater morning period in general.

  • 4
    While means "early", it can however be used as a morning greeting, presumably as a shortened form of 早上好
    – Cocowalla
    May 23, 2014 at 8:57
  • 早 as "good morning" was used in Taipei when I lived there.
    – hlovdal
    Mar 5, 2015 at 23:07

To answer you question, the difference between 早 and 早晨 is

早 means early by itself, however, in this case 早 means early part of the day, which is morning! In Chinese it is rare to use just one character to convey an idea, so 早上 (upper part of the daytime) is used to mean morning.

早晨 means the time between early morning (凌晨 00:00-06:00) and morning (早上06:00-11:00),so around 06:00 - 08:00.

Actually there is not a official cut off point for each period of the day, the definition above is based on me being a native speaker for more than 30 years.


It is all about regional, dialect preference and practice. So there is no "official", "common" way to greet someone "good morning" in Chinese, whether in mainland China or else where in the world.

Even in the English speaking world, stretching from the UK to the US to Australia and NZ, you will find numerous ways how this start-of-day greeting is made or unmade.

So, perhaps due to sheer idiosyncratic reticence, (which is a common human trait), as usually nothing much else is said after the brief morning greeting, people may reduce a "good morning, how are you" to just "mornin", (perhaps followed by a slight dip of the head), and everyone goes their own private way.

Similarly the Chinese just reduce the more communicative full-length "早上好 or 早安" to just a curtly 早, "mornin"

BTW, as far as I am aware, 早晨 is used mostly by the Cantonese, pronounced in Cantonese of course.

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