Chinese words with the same pronunciation

In spoken Chinese, how do you distinguish between 不但高 (not only high or tall) and 不蛋糕 (not cake) when the pinyin is the same?

March 31, 2019


After posting this, I kinda realized it's a dumb question since English has way and weigh; sew, so and sow; as well as to, two, and too and many, many more..... Not to mention row (boat), row (things or people) and row (fight)-with a new pronunciation.

March 31, 2019

There’s no such thing as a dumb question, that’s how we learn.

March 31, 2019

well, the point is you nearly never come across with such a situation. It is nearly impossible for words like these appear together.

他不但高而且壮。 He is not only tall but also strong.

这不是蛋糕。 This is not a cake.

And that's why kanji (or Chinese characters, 汉字) is so crucial for Chinese and Japanese language hhh.

April 1, 2019

Actually it is possible. But it is not common.

事迹 well known story about a person

世纪 century

试剂 reagent

It is basically not possible to distinguish such words (in spoken language) without a certain context.

April 2, 2019

Wow, interesting and confusing at the same time.

April 2, 2019

right, many words have the same pronunciation and and depend on its context with different meaning. and even for an identical character, its meaning varies in different context. With a whole sentence, one is more likely to distinguish among them. btw you reach level 25 in BOTH German and Chinese, that's awesome!!

April 5, 2019

Thanks! I really love these languages. The funny thing is I am more fluent in 2 languages where I have a lower level number! Spanish because I am living in Spain and French because I started with it before German and Chinese.

April 5, 2019

They can be distinguished out of context (as you do) by the unique characters. Ha, ha, have a look at the Shí Shí poem.

March 31, 2019

mostly context, but even native chinese speakers sometimes become confused!

May 3, 2019

It depends on the context, and it's true to most languages, I think. Haha

May 11, 2019
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