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Answer to Misused Mandarin Words: “普通(pǔtōng)” vs. “普遍(pǔbiàn)”

Mar. 16, 2015

Correct Answer: B

Many Chinese learners do not know how to use “普通(pǔtōng)” and “普遍(pǔbiàn)” correctly. The following text will help you understand how to tell the difference between these two useful Chinese words.

In the Chinese language, “普通(pǔtōng)” is an adjective that signifies something very common or usual conditions, emphasizing that certain things or people are not out of the ordinary.

Examples

Linda: Nǐde fùqīn shì zuò shēngyì de ma?
Linda:你的 父亲 是   做    生意    的  吗?
Linda: Is he a business man?

Zhōu Hóng: Bùshì, tā shì yìmíng pǔtōng de gōngrén.
周        红: 不是,他 是    一名    普通    的     工人。
Zhou Hong: No, he is an ordinary worker.

Jack: Yīshēng, qǐngwèn wǒ de bìngqíng yánzhòng ma?
Jack:医生,      请问    我  的    病情        严重       吗?
Jack: Doctor, is my illness serious?

Yīshēng : Búyào dānxīn, zhǐshì pǔtōng de gǎnmào.
医生:      不要      担心,只是   普通    的    感冒。
Doctor: Don’t worry. It is just an ordinary cold.

Zhè běn shū kànqǐlái hěn pǔtōng, méiyǒu shénme tèbié de dì fang.
这     本   书    看起来  很   普通,   没有        什么   特别  的 地 方。
The book looks very ordinary, with nothing special about it.

“普遍(pǔbiàn)” is an adjective used to describe that something is universal and widely known, accepted, occurring, etc. “普遍(pǔbiàn)” can be used with “行为(xíngwéi) behavior,” “现象(xiànxiàng) phenomenon,” “问题(wèntí) issue,” etc.

Examples

Tom: Tīngshuō Liú Xīn hé Zhānɡ Wěi dǎsuàn lǚxíng jiēhūn.
Tom:听说        刘  欣  和     张     伟    打算     旅行   结婚。
Tom: I heard that Liu Xin and Zhang Wei intend to have a destination wedding.

Lǐ Huá: Shì de. Xiànzài lǚxíng jiēhūn zài Zhōngguó yuè lái yuè pǔbiàn le.
李 华:  是 的。现在      旅行   结婚  在       中国      越  来  越    普遍   了。
Li Hua: That’s right. Destination weddings are now more and more common in China.

Dāngjīn shèhuì, zhíyè bìng shì yíɡè fēicháng pǔbiàn de wèntí.
当今        社会, 职业   病    是  一个   非常      普遍   的   问题。
In our society, occupational illness is a very universal problem.

Fánshì yǒuqián de dānshēnhàn, zǒng xiǎng qǔ yíwèi tàitai, zhè shì yìtiáo pǔbiàn rèntóng de zhēnlǐ.
凡是        有钱    的     单身汉,       总    想    娶  一位 太太,这  是   一条   普遍     认同     的  真理。
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.


In our test, Bruce thinks that the phenomenon which Wang Li refers to is a common occurrence, so the answer is B.

<<Back to “Misused Mandarin Words: ‘普通(pǔtōng)’ vs. ’普遍(pǔbiàn)’”

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