While two of the most widely spoken languages in the world are English and Chinese, these two could not be more different! For those taking on the challenge of bridging the gap between the two, here are three of the primary differences between the Chinese and English languages.
Letters Vs. Symbols
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature between Chinese and English is how they build their words. English uses a structured alphabet of 26 letters which combine to make words. Chinese, on the other hand, uses thousands of characters, each with their own meaning, to create words, phrases, and sentences.
Sentence And Grammar Structure
Another major difference between English and Chinese is their sentence structure. Both languages share a similar pattern of subject-verb-object. However, English frequently uses both passive and active voice, while Chinese does not. Additionally, English has separate conjugations for past, present, and future tense, while Chinese instead uses indicator words, such as ‘tomorrow’ or ‘yesterday’ to indicate timing, as well as through context.
Perhaps one of the most defining features of Chinese is its use of tonal language. An inflection of the voice can completely change the meaning of a word or phrase. English, on the other hand, does not utilize this function. Rather it relies solely on the structure of a sentence to convey meaning (though one’s tone can add or take away from the emotional expression).
Interested in seeing more about what the Chinese language is all about? Get started today by browsing through our collection of international children’s books to get started!