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Home  /  Language Center  /  建立, 成立 - Concrete and Abstract Establishment
建立, 成立 - Concrete and Abstract Establishment print version
02-07-2010

'Establish', 'found', 'set up' are appropriate translations to both 建立 (jiànlì) and 成立 (chénglì). In Chinese, just like in English, these terms can stand for both physical or institutional establishment, and establishing more abstract ideas such as relationships, theories, etc.

To state the founding of concrete establishment and social organizations 建立 is preferred upon 成立. Differentiating between the abstract objects which are paired with 建立 and those which are paired with 成立 is a more difficult task. Perhaps some memorization is helpful if one wishes to master the usage of both terms (after all logical explanations of Chinese syntax is often not as helpful as memorizing common pairs of words). 感情 (emotions), 友谊 (friendship), 关系 (relationship) are often paired with 建立, while abstract terms such as 观点 (standpoint) or 理论 (theory) are 'established' by 成立.

Is there any guiding line that can enable us to predict when to use 建立 and when to use 成立 when expressing the 'establishment' of an abstract term? There is no 100% rule, but as one may notice, 成立 indicates a more active and intentional development of something. Setting up a theory or a concept (words which are coupled with 成立) is an action which is normally more intentional, decided upon and even planned than establishing a friendship or developing an emotion, expression in which 建立 is the common verb.

  建立  成立 
 Syntactic
 Function
Verb   Verb
 English
 Translation
 Establish, Set up, Found   Establish, Found, Develop 
 Sentence
 Example

中国 1949 建立了国家妇联的合会。
In 1949 China established the nation's Women's Federation.

我女儿和我们家的新小狗已经互相建立了深刻的感情。
My daughter and our family's new puppy have already established deep emotions one towards the other.

如果你想创立一家素菜的饭馆,你不要忘记给顾客建立点菜的服务。
If you wish to open a vegetarian restaurant don't forget to set up an ordering food service for the customers.

我先要把所有的课成学完了,然后才成立研究理论。
First I want to finish all my courses, then I will set up my research thesis.

我想在这片文章中作者的观点不够成立了。
I think that the author's standpoint in this article isn't well developed.

如果你不能成立你自己有意思的意见那你干吗要到这儿工作?
If you cannot develop your own meaningful arguments then what are you coming here to work for?



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