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Differences between 懂, 懂得 and 明白?

  1. What are the differences between 懂, 懂得 and 明白? Three of them mean 'to understand'.

  2. The sentence 我一会儿见他 is translated as "I will see him later,". But where is the 'will' in that Chinese sentence?

  3. How do you translate ' a blue book' into Chinese? yī běn...???

  4. Some Chinese words omit their pinyin like méi guān xi whereas the xi in that phrase takes the 4th tone (xì)? Why? Is there a rule for this?


February 1, 2018


  1. MyaRexa's explanation is spot-on, but I just wanted to make one small addition: You don't usually see 明白 used as part of a verb+object like you would with 懂. For example, you could say: 我懂这本书。I understand this book. You would not say, however: 我明白这本书.

    Though if, after reading this book, someone said: 明白了吗?(Do you understand?), then you could reply: 明白了! (Understood!)

  2. MyaRexa's explanation is spot-on.

  3. 'A blue book' is 一本蓝色的书。 一 = one 本 = measure word for 'book' 蓝色 = blue (just 蓝 alone is fine too, I just usually see it with the 色, which simply means 'color', added) 的 = modifying marker. The words in front of it modify the object after it. 书 = book

  4. I'm sure there's an official rule for this, and if there is, I don't know what it is. Some Chinese phrases just like to drop the tone and make them neutral.

I'm not a native Chinese speaker but I've been studying it for several years. Unfortunately, I am not that great at explaining certain concepts or definitions that I've picked up but... I hope this helps anyways!

  1. Actually you can use them all, they all mean the same thing. Just like in English, maybe and probably. The only difference is, 明白means you understand it clearly.懂and懂得are absolutely the same. There is also a tip. If you go to China, you'll see Chinese people use all kinds of word to describe one definition. So technically you can say all these in China.

2.All the words in Chinese don't translate clearly in English. They don't translate word by word, but i think this "will" thingy is included in the words一会儿。

3.Just type in "yi ben lan se de shu".

4.There is no rules in this sentence, just do which way you prefer. Some people use "xì", and some people use "xī", I would like to use "xi", without a accent mark on it. Because I born with it, my parents taught me this way when I was young.

Please trust me because I'm a original Chinese.


I don't know Mandarin that well, but with some dictionary help I found:

懂 - dong3 - to understand, to know, to comprehend
懂得 - dong3 de - the "de" particle makes it mean to understand the thing that follows this phrase
明白 - ming2 bai - to understand, to realize

我一会儿见他 - I see him in a while. - the "will" has to be picked up from the context ( 一会儿 - in a while)

There are no changes to verbs indicating the tense, the best clues as to what tense is used are the time expressions, for example "明天 - míng tiān - tomorrow".

Yi1 ben3 would actually mean "one counter for books"

蓝的 - lan2 de - blue (without "de" it's a noun, with it it's an adjective)
书 - shu1 - book

So it gives:
蓝的书  - lan2 de shu1 - blue book

Ad.4: Here I should read about it more before giving an answer... I'll edit this post later when I find something useful ^.-


I have a few questions: (1) Does 明白 mean "to understand" as in "to sympathize" (for one), while 懂 or 懂得 means "to understand" as in "to comprehend"? (2) In terms of future tense, are 会 and 要 interchangeable? (3) I frequently encounter two-character word phrases that change the tone of the second character to neutral tone: 明白, from ming2 and bai2 to ming2 bai5 instead of ming2 bai2; 东西(或者 ”東西“,如果你用繁體字), from dong1 and xi1 to dong1 xi5 instead of dong1 xi1. It seems to be a common habit, or possibly rule, of doing so. Is it?


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