The difference between “突然” and “忽然.” (Elementary)

The correct answer is A.


Jane:Míngtiān yào kǎoshì, nǐ zhīdao ma?
Jane:明天       要    考试, 你  知道   吗?
Jane:Do you know that we will take the exam tomorrow?

Li Ming:Á? Tài tūrán le ba!
Li Ming:啊?太 突然  了 吧!
Li Ming:Ah? (It is) really very sudden!


This test examines the difference between 突然 (tūrán) and 忽然 (hūrán). Both of these words mean “sudden,” but they can’t always be used interchangeably. The main difference is that 突然 (tūrán) is not only an adverb, but can also function as an adjective. However, 忽然 (hūrán) can only function as an adverb.
When 突然 (tūrán) is used as an adjective, it is to say that something happens so fast that it is out of one’s imagination. In the above conversation, Li Ming says that taking the exam tomorrow is a surprise because he hadn’t heard about it. Here 突然 (tūrán) functions as an adjective to modify the omitted words, “明天要考试 (Míngtiān yào kǎoshì)”. Therefore, 突然 (tūrán) is the correct choice.


Zhè jiàn shìqing hěn tūrán.
这    件    事情     很   突然。
It was very sudden.
When 突然 (tūrán) is used as an adverb, it means that the time interval is very short. It is interchangeable with 忽然 (hūrán).


Tūrán, háizi kūle.
突然, 孩子 哭了。
Suddenly, the child started crying.

Hūrán, háizi kūle.
忽然, 孩子 哭了。
Suddenly, the child started crying.

These two sentences use different words, but they both say the same thing.

HSK Test
General Chinese (Beginner Level) 
General Chinese (Intermediate Level) 

8 thoughts on “The difference between “突然” and “忽然.” (Elementary)”

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