How to use “忽然” and “突然” in Chinese

November 24, 2009, 03:38 PM posted in General Discussion


“忽然” and “突然” is a pair of synonyms in Chinese, from the meaning that both close to the line indicated that comes very quickly in a short time, and the unexpected so that many foreign students would often equating the two terms, thinking that the two can replace each other and therefore the sentence to say something wrong.
Such as: 1.这场大雪来的很”忽然”啊! 2,这事情发生的十分”忽然”。

The reason happened the error is to confuse the two grammatical these Chinese words. In fact, the same two words, though meaningful, but t there is a big difference in usage, and therefore can not be completely equated. Let’s look together at the difference between these words.

1, “忽然” and “突然” when the situation can be replaced each other:
1. As adverbials, in addition to semantic to突然slightly heavier than “忽然” and the two basically the same meaning, you could use. Such as:

2. “忽然” when is the adverb can be placed only before verbs, adjectives such as:


1. “突然” as an adjective, much broader usage, which also determines the diversity in sentences. In addition to the verb before the adverbial, it can also to be attributive, predicate, and complement, such as “突然的变故,”. Here the “突然” are not replaced by “忽然”
“突然” as attributive noun in the sentence modification, the terms pre-available “,” can also be omitted, such as :
2. “突然” as predicate in the sentence, in the front generally there is a “very,” “too” or after “very,” and “very,” and so on, such as:
“突然” can also be made after the verb complement, then there must be in front of “得”, such as
Such as “突然” usage, are “忽然” does not have, that these “突然” can not be replaced by “忽然.”
You can see above, although the “突然” in usage is sometimes equivalent to “忽然”, but in most cases is different. In reality the sentence is often a misuse of “suddenly” changed to “突然”, which was mainly due to “忽然” only reason adverb usage, in which the use “突然” where used the term “忽然.” 事情发生得太”忽然”了” and “出现了“忽然”事情” “。

To summarize by “突然” and “忽然,” This is more detailed comparison of induction, I hope to help foreign students deepen their understanding of Chinese language in the understanding of this difficult to reduce the error, so that they can be more accurate and comfortable with the application of “突然”and the”忽然. ”.


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November 25, 2009, 01:57 AM

Many thanks for the comprehensive explanation about the proper usage of 突然 and 忽然. Let me summarise it as follows,

(1) 突然 has a stronger meaning of "suddenness" than 忽然.

(2) 突然 is both an adverb and an adjective, while 忽然 is an adverb, so .........

You can say "事情很突然" but not "事情很忽然".
You can say "突然(的)事件" but not "忽然(的)事件".
You can say "发生得很突然", but not "发生得很忽然".

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November 26, 2009, 03:37 AM

Also thanks for your summarization.Perfect