So, I'm trying to figure out what is a better way to simply translate "An important month". For example if I wanted to talk about the month of Ramadan I originally said

"斋月是穆斯林非常重要的一个月“ but a friend (Sean C.) corrected me to say 斋月是穆斯林非常重要的一个月份“ Could someone explain this difference? Does 月 sound incorrect in this instance? Is there a simple way to think about the two as nouns?

2 Answers 2


Both 重要的月份 and 重要的一個月 works fine for translating "an important month". But 重要的月 minus the unit of measurement (份/一個) sounds more like you're speaking of the Moon.

The difference between 月 and 月份 is that the latter is specifying a month of the year, while the former is more ambiguous: it could refer to the moon, or a month's time. Thus 月份 could be used standalone but you would normally prefix 一個 to 月, as you did.

It is perfectly okay to say 斋月是伊斯兰最重要的一个月.

I suspect the reason your friend corrected you was because the topic was Ramadan.

Traditionally (in some parts), 九月 means September in the Gregorian calendar, while 九月份 refers to the ninth month of the traditional lunisolar Han Calendar. By extension, he might have felt the ninth month of the Islamic Hijri Calendar (which is what Ramadan is) should also be a 月份.

This isn't a matter of grammar, but rather a customary usage.

  • 月 and 月份 have nothing to do with Gregorian calendar or Han Calendar.
    – Henry HO
    Aug 11, 2014 at 6:28
  • @HenryHO As usual with your habitually unfounded criticisms of my answers, you're again wrong. I am not claiming that 月/月份 has to do with the calendar type; I'm offering a possible explanation for why Stephen's friend falsely "corrected" him. I explained the actual difference in the first half of my answer.
    – Semaphore
    Aug 11, 2014 at 7:06
  • Being once or twice isn't "habitual". :) And I am eager to see your "founded source" of "九月份 refers to the ninth month of the traditional lunisolar Han Calendar".
    – Henry HO
    Aug 12, 2014 at 2:22
  • @HenryHO And I am eager to see you acquire reading comprehension skills. But I'm not holding my breath.
    – Semaphore
    Aug 12, 2014 at 2:25
  • Yup, I found someone suddenly casting uncommented downvotes to my answers in other questions. Just take your time. ^__^
    – Henry HO
    Aug 12, 2014 at 2:28

refers to the duration aspect of a month, i.e. one 月 is a time span of 30 days.

月份 refers to a particular point or period of time in the year.

What confuses people is they both can be used to express 'month N of the year' and are completely interchangeable in this usage. E.g. 四月 = 四月份 = April.

But to show the difference, imaging there is a festival called 'jogger's month' when everybody is supposed to keep jogging everyday during the festival. It lasts for about 30 days that's why it's called a month, but it may start at a different point of time every year. In this case, you can say: 慢跑每年在不同的月份举行。去年是在四月(份),今年将是在九月(份)。

For the sentence in your question, if I understand correctly, Ramadan is actually the name of a month on Islamic calendar, so both 月 and 月份 are correct. 月份 would give people slightly more hint on it's at the same time every year, while 月 merely indicates the length of the period.

Some discussions on 月 vs. 月份 as FYI.

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