In Chinese, there are many characters that are very similar. One situation is that a character has different meanings on the basis of different pronunciations, like 长 (“chánɡ” and “zhǎnɡ”) and 假 (“jiǎ” and “jià”). The other situation is that several characters look like but have different meanings.
Today we will talk about the second situation and take “肯定” “确定” and “一定” as an example. Generally speaking, “肯定” “确定” and “一定” mean certain and sure. They are what we called synonyms. But they still have some differences.
1. Differences in Meaning
1). approve or accept something
e.g.: 领导对你的表现非常肯定。(Pinyin: lǐnɡ dǎo duì nǐ de biǎo xiàn fēi chánɡ kěn dìnɡ. Meaning: The leader gives high praise to your performance.)
2). ensure, be sure
e.g.: 我肯定他会准时来的。(Pinyin: wǒ kěn dìnɡ tā huì zhǔn shí lái de. Meaning: I ensure that he will come here on time.)
3). unquestionably and indisputably
e.g.: 你肯定能顺利通过这次考试的。(Pinyin: nǐ kěn dìnɡ nénɡ shùn lì tōnɡ ɡuò zhè cì kǎo shì de. Meaning: You can unquestionably pass the exam.)
1). ensure, be sure (in this situation, 确定 is the same with 肯定)
e.g.: 我确定他会来。(Pinyin: wǒ què dìnɡ tā huì lái. Meaning: I’m sure he will come.)
1). definitely, must
e.g.: 你一定是个好学生。(Pinyin: nǐ yí dìnɡ shì ɡè hào xué shenɡ. Meaning: you must be a good student.) In this situation, 一定 is equal to 肯定.
2). a certain degree/extent
e.g.: 在一定程度上，男性更容易找到工作。(Pinyin: zài yí dìnɡ chénɡ dù shànɡ, nán xìnɡ ɡènɡ rónɡ yì zhǎo dào ɡōnɡ zuò. Meaning: To a certain extent, it’s easier for men to get work.)
3). a certain amount
e.g.: 在达到一定金额的情况下，必须报关。(Pinyin: zài dá dào yí dìnɡ jīn é de qínɡ kuànɡ xià, bì xū bào ɡuān. Meaning: Declaration is to reach a certain amount of cases must be declared.)
2. Differences in the part of speech
means “approve or accept something”, or “ensure and be sure”
means unquestionably and indisputably
means “ensure and be sure”
means “certain”, such as a certain amount, a certain degree and a certain extent.
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