Chinese Words That May Cause Confusion

In one of our previous blog articles, we explained seven pairs of synonyms in terms of the nuances between the meaning of each pair of the words and how to use them in different situations. Today we are going to take a look at another five pairs of words that may cause confusion for Chinese learners.

看 (kàn) VS 看见 (kàn jiàn)

The character 看 (kàn) means “to look at” or “to watch”, and you can use this verb to describe an action such as “to read a book” or “to watch a movie”. However, 看见 (kàn jiàn) means “to see”, which can be used when someone sees something accidentally.

我喜欢看美国电影 (wǒ xǐ huān kàn měi guó diàn yǐng)。= I like watching American movies.
我昨天看见了Jason (wǒ zuó tiān kàn jiàn le Jason)。= I saw Jason yesterday.

听 (tīng) VS 听见 (tīng jiàn)

Similar to the pair of the words explained above, 听 (tīng) means “to listen”, and it puts an emphasis on the process of listening. 听见 (tīng jiàn) means “to hear”, which lays stress on the fact that you’ve heard something.

我在听广播 (wǒ zài tīng guǎng bō)。= I’m listening to the radio.
我听见了音乐 (wǒ tīng jiàn le yīn yuè)。= I heard music.

广播(guǎng bō): radio
音乐(yīn yuè): music

Number + 月 (yuè) VS number + 个 (gè) + 月 (yuè)

The first phrase represents a specific month of the year, whereas the latter stands for the number of months in that there is a measure word between the number and the character 月 (yuè).

我明年三月去中国 (wǒ míng nián sān yuè qù zhōng guó)。= I’m going to China next March.
我学中文三个月了(wǒ xué zhōng wén sān gè yuè le)。= I’ve been studying Chinese for three months.

好用 (hǎo yòng) VS 有用 (yǒu yòng)

These two words cause confusion for many Chinese learners. In fact, the literal meaning of the first word is “good to use”, and in Chinese, it is equivalent to the English phrase “easy to use” or “user-friendly”. The meaning of the second word is “to have usage” if we explain these two characters separately, and therefore, the word means “useful”.

这个手机很好用 (zhè gè shǒu jī hěn hǎo yòng)。= This mobile phone is easy to use (user-friendly).
这本书很有用 (zhè běn shū hěn yǒu yòng)。= This book is very useful.

手机(shǒu jī): mobile phone
书(shū): book

都 (dōu) VS 所有 (suǒ yǒu)

These two words both mean “all”. However, there are some differences in terms of using these two words in different situations. The main thing that you need to remember is 都 (dōu) is usually followed by a verb or an adjective, whereas 所有 (suǒ yǒu) is often followed by a noun, which means “all of +noun”.

他们都喜欢中国菜 (tā men dōu xǐ huān zhōng guó cài)。= They all like Chinese food.
我的朋友都很友好 (wǒ de péng yǒu dōu hěn yǒu hǎo)。= My friends are all very friendly.
我做完了所有的作业 (wǒ zuò wán le suǒ yǒu de zuò yè)。= I’ve finished all my homework.

友好(yǒu hǎo): friendly
作业(zuò yè): homework

Thank you for reading! Check out our previous article on Chinese words that may cause confusion below!




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