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Chinese words “忽然” VS “突然”

sudden in chinese, chinese words, learning chinese

Both 突然 (tūrán) and 忽然 (hūrán) express the something happens in a very short time or is unexpected. Both can be translated as "unexpectedly" or "surprisingly", however, 突然 is a bit harsher in tone while 忽然 is a bit softer. Also, their grammatical features are subtly different, as outlined in this article.

“突然 (tūrán)”和“忽然 (hūrán)”都可以表达事情在短时间内就发生了或事情是意料之外的意思。它们都可以译成“unexpectedly”或者“surprisingly”,不过,“突然”在语气上比较尖锐而“忽然”语调比较温和。同时,它们之间的语法特点差异比较微妙,本文将进行讲解。


Both 突然 and 忽然 can be used as Adverbs



突然 and 忽然 both can put in the sentence as adverbs or adjectives, just make sure to put them before the verb or the adjective.



突然/忽然 + Verb




睡觉 的 时候,我 的 电话突然 响了。

While I was sleeping, my phone suddenly started to ring.


睡觉 的 时候,我 的 电话忽然 响了。

While I was sleeping, my phone suddenly started to ring.


他 说着说着突然 不 说 了。

He was talking and talking, and suddenly stopped.


他 说着说着忽然 不 说 了。

He was talking and talking, and suddenly stopped.


突然/忽然 + Adjective




天 突然 暗 了。

天 忽然 暗 了。

The sky suddenly got dark.


灯 突然 不 亮 了。

灯 忽然 不 亮 了。

The lights suddenly went out.


You can place 突然 and 忽然 at the beginning of a sentence, just make sure to add a comma after it!







突然,他 进来 了。

忽然,他 进来 了。

Suddenly, he entered.


突然 can be used as an Adjective



突然 can be used as an adjective, while 忽然 cannot.



突然 + (的) + Noun




这 是 一 场 突然 事故,我们 都 没 想 到。

This was a sudden accident. None of us thought it could happen.


你 知道 怎么 处理 这 种 突然 的 情况 吗?

Do you know how to handle this kind of sudden situation?


突然 can be used as a complement



突然 as an adjective can also be used as a complement.



Subject + Verb + 得 + 突然




事情 发生 得 太 突然,我们 不 知道 怎么 办。

Things happened so suddenly, we didn't know what to do.


这 场 雨 下 得 太 突然,都 淋湿 了。

This rain fell so suddenly, everything got soaked.


突然 can be used as the predicate



Just like other adjectives, 突然 can be used as the predicate of a sentence. It is usually added with a modifier like 很, 非常, 不 etc. It can also end with 得很, 得多, 极了, etc.



Subject + modifier + 突然




这 个 决定 太 突然 了。

This decision was too sudden.


对 她 来说,这 次 升职 其实 不 突然。

To her, this promotion wasn't actually surprising.


Subject + 突然 + Modifier




离开 上海 突然 得 很。

Leaving Shanghai is really surprising.


这 次 生病 比 上 次 突然 得 多。

Getting sick this time is much more surprising than the last time.


Example of right and wrong sentences



这 个 决定 很 忽然。

这 个 决定 很 突然。 突然 can be a predicate, while 忽然 cannot. (“突然”可作为谓语而“忽然”不可以。)


一切 发生 得 太 忽然。

一切 发生 得 太 突然。 突然 can be a complement, but 忽然 cannot. (“突然”可作为补语而“忽然”不可以。)


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