Chinese Word for Different and Difference

By Sujanti Djuanda

I. As a noun, 区别(qūbié= difference), 差别(chā​bié= difference),不同(bùtóng=difference) and 不一样(bù​yī​yàng= difference) are interchangeable, but 不同(bùtóng=difference) and 不一样(bùyīyàng= difference) are more used in daily conversation.

Example 1:

What is the difference of them?

那些(nà​xiē=those)有(yǒu=have)什么(shén​me=what)区别(qū​bié= difference)?

You can replace区别(qūbié= difference) with差别(chā​bié= difference), 不同(bù​tóng= difference) or 不一样(bù​yī​yang= difference).

Example 2:

What is the difference between Etawah goat milk and cow milk?

爱塔瓦(àitǎwǎ=Etawah)山羊奶(shānyángnǎi=goat milk)和(hé=and)牛奶(niú​nǎi=cow milk)有(yǒu​=have)什么(shén​me=what)区别(qū​bié=difference) (or 差别(chā​bié= difference) or 不同(bù​tong= difference) or 不一样(bù​yī​yàng= difference))?

II. 不同(bùtóng=different) and 不一样(bù​yī​yàng =different) can be used as an adjective but 区别(qūbié=difference) and 差别(chā​bié= difference) cannot.

Example 1a:

Of course, it’s very different. (adjective)

当然(dāng​rán​=of course)很(hěn=very)不一样(bù​yī​yang= different) (or 不同(bùtóng= different)) 。

You cannot say : 当然(dāngrán=of course)很(hěn=very)不(bù=not)区别(qūbié=difference) (or 差别(chābié =difference))。

Compared with Example 1b:

Of course, the difference is very big. (Here区别(qūbié=difference) or 差别(chābié= difference) is used as a noun).

当然(dāngrán=of course )区别(qūbié=difference)(or 差别(chābié= difference))很(hěn=very)大(dà=big)。

Or区别(qūbié=difference)(or 差别(chābié= difference))当然(dāngrán=of course ) 很(hěn=very)大(dà=big)。

III. 区别(qūbié=to distinguish) can be used as a verb, but 差别(chā​bié), 不同(bù​tóng​) and 不一样(bù​yī​yàng​) cannot.

Example 1

How to distinguish the real and the fake one?

真的(zhēnde=the real one)假的(jiǎ​de=the fake one)怎么(zěn​me​=how)区别(qūbié= to distinguish)呢(ne)?

Example 2

It’s really not easy to distinguish the real and the fake one.

要(yào​=want)区别(qūbié= to distinguish)真的(zhēnde=the real one)假的(jiǎde=the fake one)真的(zhēnde=really)不(bù=not)容易(róng​yì=easy)。

Would you like to start learning Chinese Online, from the comfort of your home, with an experienced teacher?

LingoLearn is an online Chinese school that offers beginners level Chinese courses, as well as intermediate and advanced level courses. Learn Chinese with our experienced teachers and excellent learning materials, in a state of the art virtual classroom!

Click here to receive details about our Chinese campus

*Required fields

LingoLearn in the Press

Contact Lingolearn