Learn The Difference Between Traditional and Simplified Chinese


The Chinese language has long been regarded as one of the most important in the world. It is one of the few remaining indigenous Socratic cultures and is also spoken extensively as a second language by millions of non-natives around the world. At first, learning Chinese might seem daunting, but online resources and apps make it easier than ever. 

Traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese are the two main types of Chinese. They have been designed to be easy to read and write, with their own set of characters. The following is everything you need to know about these two types of Chinese:

What Is Traditional Chinese?

To begin with, let’s get one thing out of the way: “should i learn traditional or simplified chinese?” We need to talk about the earliest form of Chinese writing to find some answers.

The traditional, unsimplified writing system of the Chinese language is referred to as traditional Chinese characters, in contrast to simplified Chinese characters. Simplified characters are currently the predominant writing system in mainland China; traditional characters are primarily used in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and other southern provinces like Fujian and Guangdong. 

Traditional characters were acknowledged as the official form of printed Chinese characters and literary Chinese across the Sinosphere up until the middle of the 20th century. In traditional Chinese, characters that have been in use for thousands of years are still used. Traditional uses double quotations inside of single quotes, which is the opposite style. Traditional Chinese can be written either horizontally or vertically, or even both ways on the same page. The traditional Chinese characters are not only beautiful, but they are also traditional characters that have not been separated from their original scripts. There are many more strokes in it than in simplified characters, and some of these strokes are totally different from those in simplified characters.

What is Simplified Chinese?

In China, people used to believe that studying Chinese was more difficult since there were too many complicated characters. The Chinese Character Simplification Plan was first introduced in 1956, with the goal of simplifying the traditionally complex Chinese characters. The plan underwent four modifications before the currently used simplified Chinese characters were finalized. As a result of the Chinese government’s efforts to promote the use of simplified Chinese characters and simplified Chinese as the country’s official language, the term “Chinese” is now most often used to refer to simplified Chinese.

The Differences Between Traditional and Simplified Chinese

By familiarizing yourself with the distinctions between Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese, you will be able to better answer questions like “should i learn traditional or simplified chinese?” and “Which one is best for me to learn?”

Traditional Chinese characters are the original characters used in China since ancient times, while simplified Chinese characters are those that were made more understandable by the People’s Republic of China about 50 years ago.  For those unfamiliar, “simplified” and “traditional” describe two different visual representations of the same set of Chinese characters. In their most fundamental form, Chinese characters are a syllabic style of writing. A syllable in Chinese can either be an entire word or a portion of a word.

Traditional Chinese characters can be read by a native speaker of simplified Chinese characters, but they cannot be correctly written by them. Even if they have a general understanding of the subject matter, the fact that it is written in traditional Chinese characters will make them feel awkward because of the significant number of phrases and expressions that are used. The following will provide an overview of the key distinctions between traditional and simplified Chinese characters. Hopefully, this will provide you with some insight into the decision. “should i learn traditional or simplified chinese?” 

Differences in the way Chinese characters are written

Simplified and traditional Chinese characters use the same Chinese characters but are written in very different ways. For example, a hotel is written “酒店” in simplified Chinese characters, while it is written “飯店” in traditional Chinese characters. Also, restaurants are written “餐厅” in simplified Chinese characters and “餐廳” in traditional Chinese characters, and “welcome” is written “欢迎” in simplified Chinese characters and “歡迎” in traditional Chinese characters.

Region of Use

Traditional Chinese is used in countries and regions such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau. On the other hand, Mainland China, Singapore, and Malaysia all use a form of Chinese known as simplified Chinese.

Mandarin and National Chinese

“Mandarin” is the name given to the standard form of the Chinese language spoken in the People’s Republic of China, whereas “National Chinese” is the name given to the standard form of the Chinese language spoken throughout the rest of the Chinese-speaking region. Both of these languages derive from “Mandarin Chinese,” but ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, a number of subtle distinctions have come to exist between the two varieties of the language. 

It is comparable to the distinctions that exist between British English and American English. There is no difference in writing styles between Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese; rather, there is a distinction between “ordinary speech” and “national language,” which accounts for the differences in the vocabulary and sentence structures of the two varieties of Chinese. 

The term “ordinary speech” is typically written in simplified Chinese characters, while the term “national language” is written in traditional Chinese characters. Because of this, one might be tempted to attribute the reason for the subtle difference between the two to the difference in writing styles. 

However, there is no direct relationship between the difference in writing styles and the difference in meaning. Rather, the subtle difference between the two is due to the subtle differences in the meanings of the two terms.

Which Should You Learn?

You’re probably asking yourself, “should i learn traditional or simplified chinese?” right about now. Since you are now more knowledgeable about Traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese, reaching a conclusion should not be too difficult for you. It goes without saying that you don’t want to throw away your hard-earned cash, precious time, and energy on something that you might not even use in the foreseeable future. This should be your top factor in choosing the type of Chinese you should learn.

Native speakers of Chinese are estimated to number around 1.3 billion. Over 800 million people are active on the internet in China, making the language crucial for any company doing business across the globe. The complexity and advanced nature of Chinese may make translation difficult at first. It is recommended that you base your decision on factors such as the region in which you would like to work or the Chinese companies to which you would like to apply. 

If you plan on working in Mainland China at any point in the future, you should definitely familiarize yourself with Simplified Chinese. However, if you want to get employment in Taiwan or Hong Kong, you will need to become fluent in traditional Chinese.


When it comes to learning Chinese, one of the questions that are always going through your head is “should i learn traditional or simplified chinese?” I hope that by reading this article, you will be able to clear your thoughts and arrive at a conclusion based on the information you gained from reading it. But the most effective way to learn is to evaluate yourself. To put it more succinctly, you need to choose what works for you and what can give you a greater advantage in your career.