Questions tagged [synonyms]

Questions about two or more expressions with a similar meaning.

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55
votes
9answers
11k views

What is the difference between 做 and 作?

做 and 作 are both translated as "to do" or "to make." How can I tell when I should use one or the other?
37
votes
9answers
9k views

What is the difference between 狗 and 犬?

狗 (gǒu) and 犬 (quǎn) both mean "dog" and both seem relatively common, but is there any difference between them? When should I use one and when should I use the other?
29
votes
5answers
20k views

中文 vs. 汉语: What's the difference?

Apparently, both of these mean Chinese, and the Chinese language. I gather that 中文 is maybe more like "written Chinese," and 汉语 is "spoken Chinese." Is this correct? I've often looked at BBC zhongwen,...
22
votes
8answers
10k views

Difference between 如果 and 要是?

In the Pimsleur Mandarin course it uses 如果 (rúguǒ) to mean 'if', but the dictionary shows 要是 (yàoshì) to have a similar meaning: 如果: if; in case; in the event that 要是: if Are there any ...
19
votes
7answers
7k views

What's the difference between 星期X and 周X?

When accepting an answer, I noticed that the example used the word 周三 for Wednesday, but in my grammar, the days of the week are 星期一, 星期二, etc... They seem both correct but, what's the difference? ...
18
votes
5answers
8k views

Confusion about bian 邊 and miàn 面

I'm having a little trouble with learning directions and positions. It seems that most often the word bian is being used to indicate a position: front side 前邊, back side 後邊, etc. But then I see stuff ...
18
votes
8answers
2k views

Why is 两 used for quantities of two rather than 二?

I understand that 两 is used instead of 二 when dealing with quantities of two. However, my question is - why? What are the historical reasons behind this? I looked at Wikitionary but it only had ...
16
votes
4answers
5k views

Are 明白 and 懂 synonymous?

Are 明白 and 懂 synonymous? If not, could anyone please elaborate on the difference along with some examples of usage?
15
votes
4answers
999 views

What's the difference between 帐户 and 账户?

To my understanding, both mean "account", as in a bank account or online account. 账户 also appears to be the more common (100M search results) compared to 帐户 (about 50M results). What is the difference,...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Do 之 and 的 come from the same word?

In modern Chinese 之 is thought of as the literary genitive particle and 的 as the colloquial. In most reconstructions of Old Chinese 之 looks very similar to the way 的 is pronounced now. For example in ...
13
votes
5answers
5k views

Difference between 特色, 特點, 特性, 特質, and 特徵

Looking up these five words in dictionaries gives results that are almost identical. In Chinese-English dictionaries, I find explanations identical or very close to: a characteristic; a ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Difference between 同一 and 一样

I would like to know when to use 同一 and when to use 一样 when describing items or people as similar? What is the difference in usage between these two phrases?
12
votes
3answers
462 views

Difference between 生前 and 死前

Literally, 死前 means before death while 生前 means before life. They seem to bear the opposite meaning. However, in most cases, they actually mean the same thing, i.e., when someone was still alive. What'...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

What's the difference between 遇到 and 碰到?

Both 遇到 and 碰到 can be translated to "come across/run into" in those sentences: 遇到大学同学了。 碰到大学同学了。 What's the difference between 遇到 and 碰到?
11
votes
6answers
8k views

What is the difference between 餐馆 and 饭店? Is 饭店 used for restaurant or hotel?

饭店 and 餐馆 can both mean restaurant. My Chinese friend here in Dongguan tells me 饭店 is not commonly used to mean hotel. I want to understand in what contexts both of these words are used. 谢谢.
11
votes
6answers
6k views

What is the Difference Between 方法 and 办法?

Both have comparable definitions of "method", "manner", "means", etc. and describe or define a way of doing something. The phrase 没(有)办法 is often used to deflect responsibility by claiming ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between 夜(yè) and 晚 (wǎn)?

Both characters mean night, also when they are together, when is it better to use each character ? For example: Beautiful night: 美丽的夜 can be rephrased to 美丽的晚 ? Good night: 晚安 to 夜安 ?
10
votes
4answers
469 views

What's the relationship between 炮 and 砲?

炮 and 砲 both mean "cannon", but it seems the former is much more common, and the latter only really seen in Xiangqi. Is there a difference in meaning? For example, on wikipedia it is said that 砲 ...
9
votes
5answers
24k views

"不客气" (bù kèqì) vs "谢谢你" (xièxiè nǐ)

At home in Australia my neighbouring shop owners are from Shanghai and taught me some Chinese. From them I learned two ways of responding to "谢谢" (xièxiè): "不客气" (bù kèqì) "谢谢你" (xièxiè nǐ) So I ...
9
votes
3answers
657 views

What's the difference between "大衣" (dàyī), "外套" (wàitào), and "外衣" (wàiyī) - which can all be translated to "coat"?

As I need to buy some cold weather clothes now that I'm heading further north than Xi'an I tried to look up the word for "coat". I found there are at least these three terms: 大衣 (dàyī) 外套 (wàitào) ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the main difference between 为 and 是?

It seems like both 为 and 是 mean "to be". In which cases is one used but not the other? Is it something like the difference between "estar" and "ser" in Spanish and Portuguese? (In the sense that one ...
9
votes
2answers
377 views

Does "坊" also mean "square", "plaza", "piazza" like "广场"?

Where I am in Kunming there is a square that seems to go by two names: 金碧广场, Jīn bì guǎngchǎng, "Golden Square" 金马碧鸡坊, Jīnmǎ bì jī fang, "Golden Horse and Green Rooster Square" ...
9
votes
2answers
556 views

Different nuances of words such as 进行, 实施, 执行, etc

Chinese has a number of words with meanings like 'implement, execute, carry out', etc. These include 进行, 实行, 实施, 行使, 落实, 执行, and possibly a few others. These words are commonly used in bureaucratic, ...
8
votes
7answers
6k views

How to distinguish between rat and mouse in Chinese?

I know there are two words here: 老鼠 and 鼠. However, the dictionary states that 老鼠 (rat) can also mean mouse; how do you specify rat? I imagine that 仓鼠 (hamster) and 沙鼠 (gerbil) are often abbreviated ...
8
votes
6answers
783 views

Differences between the two words for each season, such as 冬季 (dōngjì) and 冬天 (dōngtiān)

There seem to be two words for each season. Each pair has the first character in common but for the second character one will have 季 (jì) and the other will have 冬天 (tiān). For example "winter" is: ...
8
votes
5answers
491 views

Are there sentences where 跟 and 和 are interchangeable?

For example: 我跟朋友去公园了。 我和朋友去公园了。 Are both of these sentences correct? Are there any subtle differences in the meaning conveyed? If they are not entirely interchangeable, how do we know which one to ...
8
votes
3answers
4k views

Difference between 各 and 每?

I'm used to using 每 for every. However, 各 came up one day and appears to me to have the exactly same meaning. Is there a contextual difference between the two that I am missing or can they be swapped ...
8
votes
7answers
8k views

What's the most usual way to say "hand sanitizer" in Chinese?

I'm finding in the non-touristy places in China where I'm spending my time in cheaper places etc that there's often no place to wash your hands, or it's dirty, or there's no soap. I've been ...
8
votes
5answers
8k views

表达 vs. 表现 vs. 表示 vs. 显示

These four words all express (get it, because they all mean express ha ha ha) similar meanings: to express/show/display/manifest/demonstrate/convey/indicate etc. I'm sure there are subtle differences ...
8
votes
1answer
669 views

Is 上下 always interchangeable with 左右?

Example sentence 1: 他的汉语能力已经达到了HSK 11级左右的程度。 Example sentence 2: 他貌似30岁上下年纪。 While 左右 sounds more natural (to me) in 1 and 上下 in 2, we can interchange them and the two sentences would still be ...
7
votes
1answer
680 views

Which term is used for "oyster" in Taiwan?

According to the English Wiktionary there are four Chinese terms equivalent to English "oyster": mǔlì : 牡蠣 / 牡蛎 hǎilìzi : 海蠣子 háo : 蚝 háozi : 蚝子 Is one of these standard or most common in Taiwan? ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

webpage loading.. 加载 vs 载入​​​​​​​

What words should we use when we want to say "a webpage is loading"? In Gmail, when I change my settings to simplified Chinese, Google says "正在加载". However, when I change my settings to traditional ...
6
votes
3answers
464 views

What is the difference between 人民 and 民族?

What is the difference between 人民 and 民族, for example in 中华人民 vs. 中华民族?
5
votes
6answers
2k views

How to say "obscene": translate 下流 or 輕佻?

I want to describe people wearing clothing as totally indecent and obscene, for instance because the clothing doesn’t remotely cover the buttocks. I am not talking about ordinary mini skirts or hot ...
5
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the difference between 认为 and 以为?

They both mean "to think" or "to consider". Is there a usage difference between the two?
5
votes
2answers
237 views

Difference between 活 and 住?

I read that both 活 and 住 both refer to the verb "to live". Is there a difference between the two?
5
votes
4answers
1k views

斯 vs 这 vs 此 for the meaning "this"?

What are the differences between these three, 斯 vs 这 vs 此, and any other characters or words for "this" in Mandarin Chinese? I'm just a beginner and I've noticed at least these few characters are in ...
5
votes
2answers
423 views

What is the difference between 试验 and 实验?

Both 试验 and 实验 seems to be translated into "experiment". What is the difference between the two words? Can they be used interchangeably or not?
5
votes
3answers
974 views

Difference between 继续 and 接着

I learned 接着 a while ago, and the CEDICT definition is as follows: to catch and hold on / to continue / to go on to do sth / to follow / to carry on / then / after that / subsequently / to proceed /...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is it 說 /说 / shuō or 講 / 讲 / jiǎng for "to speak a language"?

I've realized that I still don't know the way to talk about "speaking a language", for instance the Chinese equivalents to sentences like these: Do you speak English? I can speak a little Chinese. ...
5
votes
2answers
282 views

山火 vs 野火 vs 丛林大火: Chinese for "bushfire"

I would imagine that 山火 meant "a fire in the mountains", but the dictionary lists "wildfire / forest fire". Is 山火 then a generic word for an out of control fire? What about 野火? I saw 山火 on the news, ...
5
votes
2answers
684 views

Meaning of 白 in words for "nonsense"?

There are a number of Chinese words containing the 白 character that all mean "nonsense" or "speaking nonsense": 白呼 夸白 白话 What's the significance of 白 in these words? 白 usually ...
5
votes
2answers
229 views

Difference among these terms for student clubs: 队、团、俱乐部、社和兴趣小组?

In regards to their meanings as "student clubs" (at school), are there any differences in the following words: 队、团、俱乐部、社和兴趣小组? For me, I personally find 队 to mean clubs having to do with ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the difference between 比如 and 例如

I know both can mean "for example/such as/for instance". They are most likely synonyms but even synonyms have slight subtle differences in precise meaning and usage. I know that 例 can be used alone: (...
5
votes
2answers
447 views

What's the difference between 可 and 可以?

I've seen threads for 可以 as opposed to 会 and 能, but what about 可以 with its component, 可? Wiktionary seems to use them interchangeably: 白银可以指:银,贵金属,用做货币时可称为白银 Is there a difference in nuance, or flow ...
5
votes
2answers
5k views

What's the difference between 说 and 讲?

It seems that in most cases, the two are interchangeable. For example: Is it 說 /说 / shuō or 講 / 讲 / jiǎng for "to speak a language"? Apart from fixed phrases, when would you use one rather ...
5
votes
2answers
189 views

"便利商店" (biànlì shāngdiàn) vs "便利店" (biànlì diàn)

Earlier when I was in China I learned "便利店" (biànlì diàn) to mean "convenience store". I think from looking it up in the English Wiktionary. But now that I'm in Taiwan when I used it people didn't ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

Introduction. What's the difference between 介绍, 简介, 入门, 引导, 导语, 导论, 引子?

I've seen 介绍, 简介 and 导语 in news pieces, which labels a one sentence synopsis of the article. Is there any difference between these three? 介绍, 简介 look to be interchangeable, and used commonly like 介绍 ...
5
votes
2answers
138 views

Do 衣服 and 衣饰 carry different connotations or are they synonyms?

衣服 and 衣饰 both mean "clothing"; but are they truly synonymous or is the use of each term confined to its own specific context? Or is it simply a difference between colloquial and formal speech or ...
5
votes
2answers
305 views

Word pairs like 嫉妒/忌妒 with similar pronunciations and meanings - examples and discussion please

I was thinking about how slight changes in pronunciation are reflected in writing. As a case in point, here are two examples of words whose pronunciations are different, but similar, and whose ...