Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China


to stay - 留 or 呆 or 住?

Recommended Posts


Hi guys,


I've often found the distinction between these words a little confusing. Often, when I'd expect someone to say 留 they say 呆 or when I expect them to say 呆 they say 住.


Does anyone have any general rules that they follow that help them distinguish these words from one another? Or does anyone have a fairly straightforward explanation of what makes each word more appropriate in certain situations than in others?


Would love to hear what you all think.




  • Like 1
  • Good question! 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

5 hours ago, yueni said:

I generally think of the difference like so:


住:to stay as in to live and/or reside.

  1. 我住在美国。   I stay in the US.  (meaning that that is the country where you reside.)
  2. 我住旅馆。      I'm staying in a hotel (probably in answer to, where are you staying here in [place that you are visiting])
  3. 他跟爸妈一起住。     He stays (or lives) with his parents.

呆:to stay as in, for a short period of time, just hanging out, very casual; does not necessarily mean reside

  1. 我呆在家。      I stayed at home. (typically in answer to the question "what did you do this weekend?", can also be rephrased as "I hung out at home.")
  2. 他在酒吧呆了整个晚上。      He stayed at the bar all night. (emphasis is on the fact that he was there all night, can also replace "stayed" with "hung out" in this particular sentence.)
  3. 我在北京呆了两年。      I spent two years in Beijing. (The emphasis here is not that I lived in Beijing, but rather, that I was there for two years.)

留:to stay as in, to stay behind, or to remain behind

  1. 我留在家。    I stayed at home. (the implication is that I was planning on going out, but instead decided for whatever reason to remain at home, or that everybody else went out, and I remained at home)
  2. 他留在那里工作。     He stayed there to work. (implication is that when he went to that place, he was not necessarily planning on staying there.)

Hope this helps!


This is the best explanation I have ever heard for this. Thank you!

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

actually it's 待, not 呆, though the typo is somewhat common among native speakers (blame it on the imput program)


the nuances can be quite confusing to foreign learners. eg (according to my own language habits):


I will stay in Britain (doesn't indicate how long her/his stay will be, probably forever)


I will stay in Britain (doesn't indicate the length either, but when this sentence is juxtaposed with the former one, it sounds like his/her stay is not forever)

the other meanings of 留 may give u some clues.


I don't wanna ask them to stay overnight.

note that 留 can be divalent (with an object), it can be translated as "make someone stay, keep someone somewhere"


待daī is always monovalent. 




both are fine, I can't see any difference.

  • Thanks 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

well, if you want someone to stay here... just use 

for example, please stay here 

:- 请留在这里

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...