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Chinlingo Chinese character: 岁 and 年

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Both "岁" and "年" mean "year". Is there any difference between them?



岁 (suì): a unit of age

年 (nián): a unit of time, or time required for the earth orbiting the sun, e.g. Year 1984; also, it means "one of the periods of life", e.g. "童年" (tónɡ nián or childhood) and "老年" (lǎo nián or old age); it means "New Year" as well, e.g. "拜年" (bài nián or pay a New Year visit).



"岁" can refer to both age and time, while "年" refers to time only.



√ 我刚来中国时才十八岁。(wǒ ɡānɡ lái zhōnɡ ɡuó shí cái shí bá suì.)

I was just 18 when I first came to China.

X 我刚来中国时才十八年。


√ 他在中国生活三年了。(tā zài zhōnɡ ɡuó shēnɡ huó sān nián le.)

He has been living in China for 3 years.

X 他在中国生活三岁了。

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