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Difference between 合算 and 划算


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I honestly don't know why I've never taken notice that these two words mean almost the same thing before. So, I thought throwing a post up about their meanings/usage similarities and differences might be helpful. Also, I know there is going to be some good input from others regarding its uses and examples, so feel free to chime in.


(Definitions are from 规范 and Pleco)


合算 has two meanings:

The verb usage means to consider or calculate (考虑; 计算). You could say 我合算过,利润不高.


The adjective use is as a comparison of two options, which one is of better profit than the other (算起来利大于弊). You could say 坐火车去很合算



划算 likewise has two meanings:

The first is a verb and it means to calculate; weigh (筹划算计)

It has both a literal and abstract use. The literal is 划算费用 (calculate the expenses) and the abstract is 划算来划算去 (weigh pros and cons).


The second meaning is as an adjective and means worthwhile or to one's profit (合算,值得) *notice the overlap in meanings here?

You could say 不划算;很划算, etc.


So in general we can see that they are pretty similar in meanings but there is some usage differences as I think are obvious from their definitions above. Another aspect of their differences that I think is worthy of mention is that it seems that 合算 seems to focus on the calculation aspect and as such is possibly more objective, whereas 划算 seems to be more about apparent value (a tad more subjective).


Okay, that is my summary and thoughts on these two words. Feel free to contribute additional thoughts and let me know where I'm wrong!



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According to the 《同义词大词典》from 上海辞书出版社:


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I think that "划算" is more common in the south (particularly when using local southern dialects) and less used in the north.

I know in Shanghainese, 划算 is used rather than 核算. I don't remember ever hearing a Beijinger use 划算. (My dad is a Beijinger, and I split my early years between Beijing and Shanghai.)

Can people who commonly deal with northerners tell us about your experiences?

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