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(Related a bit to Difference between 实际, 现实, 确实, and 实在 I guess. Good to link to it for posterity.)

的确, 确实, 实在, 真正

My dictionaries all say that all four can be adverbs with a meaning of "really." That's not too helpful when you want to know which one you should use in which situation, and which one you can't use.

My problem culminated with this question: "没错,这本书__________是我的"

A: 的确, B: 实在, C: 真正

If they are all adverbs, and all can mean "really," then in my mind it's a trick question and I can use any. However ...

I asked a native Chinese speaker, and this is the explanation I received:

的确 and 确实 seem to have about the same meaning, both are adverbs and both seem to indicate a confirmation of a state, and rather than "really," makes more sense as "actually," e.g. somebody asks you to try this dish, because it tastes good, and you try it, then, "这个菜确实好吃" ~= "This dish actually is good!"

(Further to this, my dictionary says 确实 appears to be able to be used as an adjective also ... which wasn't covered in the explanation.)

实在 can be an adverb or an adjective, and makes more sense if you think of it as "honest(ly)" when you think something is very good or very bad.

真正 can be an adverb or an adjective, and makes more sense if you think of it as "true/truly".

There are a few areas that I've encountered in Chinese where the "English equivalent" isn't really the same, and there are certain rules and regulations that cover the Chinese word, but don't have the same distinction in English. I feel this is one of them.

I can see that 的确 will fit in the above question (It's not a mistake, this book actually is mine,) but going by the English explanations, to me, 真正 could fit too (It's not a mistake, this book truly is mine.) Oh, but ... "It's not a mistake, honestly, this book is mine"

Can anybody shed any light on this? I would honestly, actually be truly grateful.

  • 真正,generally is not followed by “是”,“不是”。We can use it in “我们真正要解决的问题是...”,“这才是真正的正版”。But we can use “这真的是我的书” (not 真正),真的 is same as 的确,确实。 – Daniel Yeung Oct 14 '14 at 8:40
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A.的确 is a subjective and strong word to confirm. For your example in question, "没错,这本书____是我的", if you translate it into English, "Yes it is, actually this is my book ". Do you feel the mood is so strong? In another word, this book is mine, you never get a change to take it away, also "没错" is the key clue and makes this sentence much stronger. Eventually, the correct answer is "的确"!

B.实在 Among native Chinese, few people speak "实在" as the meaning of "truly" or "actually". They more like to use it as adj, not adv. For an example, "这个人很实在" means "This guy is very good and not selfish".For adv, "实在"+ adj. is much easier for understanding,such as "实在漂亮". Note: "的确">"实在", if you don't know which word to use under different circumstance, try to use "的确" instead of "实在".

C.真正 There are only few specific phrase which you need to remember, "真正的男子汉","真正意义上的" . It is also not as often as used in daily life.

As a result, all the key is to consider the situation and environment when you speak, there are always several key points and clue that would be found.

PS: If you want to say "really" in your spoken-Chinese, it is easy to use "真" + any word you want. "真香","真漂亮","真性感","这本书真是我的" :)

  • +1 for the "真性感" example, which makes the answer "真"方便理解 – Timothy Gu Oct 16 '14 at 0:22
  • Sorry for the huge delay, I was waiting to see how many upvotes things would get, then totally forgot, lol -_- what about 确实? You didn't mention it in your answer. Cheers :) – Ming May 6 '15 at 5:47
  • There is no big difference between 的确 and 确实 . Mostly, they are the same. However, please refer to this example to distinguish them. 1) You and A are very close friend, she find a book which not belong to her, meanwhile, you look for it for long time, but now, you don't need it anymore, then she says " 这本书怎么看起来像你的呢?" you take it over and find a very small star at the bottom left corner which you printed. you will say "没错,这本书的确是我的,但是我早就读过了,你留着吧". 2)If this book means a lot to you, and you look for it a long time. You will say"没错,这本书确实是我的,我找了它很长时间,现在可以还给我吗?" – Ted Corleone May 8 '15 at 6:57
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when 真 and 正 are together, the meaning should be closer to 正, so it's different with 真的。 For example, Jack喜欢Lucy的真正原因是Lucy有钱, it means the correct reason is Lucy is rich, also it indicts most people think Jack like Lucy because of other reason, and that's incorrect reason.

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