6 Major Differences between English and Chinese
There are some basic major differences between English and Chinese. It is important to be
aware of the major differences between the two languages in order to reduce your mistakes in
Chinese and also to make your expression in Chinese much better and fluent. This article
discusses 6 of the major differences between English and Chinese.
1. English emphasizes the structure, while Chinese focuses on the meaning.
In English, it is very common to see one long sentence with long modifier, and use of pronouns
like “we”, “she”, “they” in addition to “that” and “which”, to avoid recurrences. The sentence
may be long and complicated, but it is still clear enough to understand. In Chinese, the situation
is very different where a long sentence in Chinese would be very complicated and cannot be
understood properly. Therefore, in Chinese we can only find short sentences or long sentences
divided to short phrases separated by comma.
To conclude, we can say: English sentences are usually long and Chinese sentences are usually
short. One should “Get the meaning, forget the words” in Chinese learning. Let’s look at some
A. The sights of Beijing are so numerous that one can spend several weeks here and leave
without having seen all of the important ones.
（běi jīng de míng shèng hěn duō ，yī gè rén jiù shì zài zhè ér dāi shàng jǐ gè xīng qī ，lí kāi shí
yě méi néng bǎ zhǔ yào de jǐng diǎn kàn wán。）
B. The Great Wall traverses plains and mountains being at some points 1,300 meters above sea
level. The wall averaged 7.8 meters in height and 5.8 meters in width at the top.
（cháng chéng kuà yuè píng yuán gāo shān ，zài mǒu xiē dì fāng hǎi bá 1,300mǐ ，píng jūn gāo
7.8mǐ ，dǐng kuān 5.8mǐ。）
C. The computer program is completely in the computing mode and will only do computing
（xiàn zài ，chéng xù de xiǎn shì qū wán quán chù yú zhè zhǒng gōng jù de mó tài zhōng。）
2. In English the passive voice is very commonly used. Unlike English, Chinese usually uses the
There are ways to show the passive tense in Chinese, there are more specific words you would
use to show that. So let’s take a look at some examples of the Chinese active voice to translate
English passive voice:
A. Tea is drunk widely all over the world.
（shì jiè gè dì rén men dōu hē chá）
B. But sometimes the tables were laid outside in the gardens of stately homes.
（dàn yǒu shí yě bǎ cān zhuō bǎi dào háo mén dà zhái de huā yuán lǐ）
C. Parties are held when the weather is nice.
（tiān gōng zuó měi shí kě yǐ kàn dào xún cháng bǎi xìng jiā de yě cān）
D. Bananas are widely believed to grow on trees.
（pǔ biàn rèn wéi xiāng jiāo shì jié zài shù shàng de guǒ shí）
It must be pointed out that… 必须指出…. （bì xū zhǐ chū）
It must be admitted that… 必须承认…. （bì xū chéng rèn）