Chinese Grammar Bank


差不多 (chàbuduō) literally means “the difference is not much”.

In today’s article we will help you understand the usage of 差不多, which is quite a common phrase in Chinese but in some cases, confusing.


差不多 (chàbuduō) as an adverb is its most frequently used meaning.

It literally means “the difference is not much”.

In practice, it means something like “more or less” and helps express rough approximations. To simplify a little bit, you can comprehend this expression as “about” in most sentences.

When used as an adverb, we should place “差不多“ before the adjective or verb. 


差不多 + Adjective/Verb

diàn yǐng chà bú duō yào kāi shǐ le 


The movie is almost about to start.
tā men chà bú duō gāo


They are about the same height.
View More Phrases
今天的作业差不多做完了。jīn tiān de zuò yè chà bú duō zuò wán le Today’s homework is almost done.
这两个孩子差不多大。zhè liǎng gè hái zǐ chà bú duō dàThese two students are more or less the same age.
我跟我哥哥差不多高。wǒ gēn wǒ gē gē chà bú duō gāo My older brother and I are more or less the same height.
我差不多到公园门口了。wǒ chà bú duō dào gōng yuán mén kǒu le I’m almost at the entrance of the park.

In summary, 差不多 is mainly used to express speculated thoughts in these cases.

As the old saying goes, knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice. So next time you are not sure of something, remember to use this phrase!


There are some other circumstances where 差不多 has a complete different meaning.

When you want to describe something not bad or just about right, you can then use 差不多 as an adjective. Meanwhile, you do need to notice that this usage of 差不多 is informal.

差不多 is informal, so it is more commonly used in conversations compared to writing. 

我认为她的工作能力还差不多。wǒ rènwéi tā de gōngzuò nénglì hái chàbùduōI think her working ability is not bad.
一名长相差不多的女生yī míng zhǎng xiàng chà bú duō de nǚ shēng An ordinary looking girl.
他自认为他的成绩还差不多。tā zì rèn wéi tā de chéng jì hái chà bú duō He thinks his grades are not bad.


When “差不多” acts as a predicate, it has an identical meaning as before.

However, there’s a slight difference in terms of sentence structure. That is, we should place it after the subject.

So, in this case, “差不多” will be the indispensable part of the sentence, not just a modifier. And you can also add “都” before “差不多” to stress the uniform of the object!


Subject + 差不多

zhè liǎng gè fāng àn chà bú duō.


The two schemes are similar.
wǒ men de chéng jì chà bú duō


Our scores are similar.
View More Phrases
今天的天气和昨天差不多。jīn tiān de tiān qì hé zuó tiān chà bú duō.The weather today is about the same as yesterday.
上海和纽约差不多。shàng hǎi hé niǔ yuē chà bú duō.Shanghai is similar to New York.
可口可乐和百事可乐差不多。kě kǒu kě lè hé bǎi shì kě lè chà bú duō.Coca-Cola is similar to Pepsi.


When you study Chinese or read Chinese texts, you will find different expressions with parallel translations or meanings. “差不多” and “几乎 (jīhū)” is one of these examples. 

As adverbs, 几乎 and 差不多 indicate a slight difference or something reasonably close.


我差不多 / 几乎睡了两个小时。
wǒ chàbùduō / jīhū shuì le liǎnɡ ɡè xiǎoshí.
I’ve slept for almost two hours.

Notice these synonyms will provide you with more flexible vocabulary choices!

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What is 差不多?

差不多 is a very common phrase in Chinese that literally means “the difference is not much”.

It has several usages and can be quite confusing at times.

Check out our article for full explanations with structures and sentence examples.

How to pronounce 差不多?

差不多 is pronounced chàbuduō.

How to use 差不多?

差不多 is mainly used in 3 ways.

As an adverb: 他们差不多高。tā men chà bú duō gāo | They are about the same height

As an adjective (informal): 我认为她的工作能力还差不多。wǒ rènwéi tā de gōngzuò nénglì hái chàbùduō | I think her working ability is not bad.

As a predicate: 上海和纽约差不多。shàng hǎi hé niǔ yuē chà bú duō. | Shanghai is similar to New York.

What is the most common use of 差不多?

The most common use of 差不多 is as an adverb.

It literally means “the difference is not much”.

For example:

他们差不多高。tā men chà bú duō gāo | They are about the same height.

我差不多到公园门口了。wǒ chà bú duō dào gōng yuán mén kǒu le  | I am almost at the entrance of the park.

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