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Chinese Word for Happiness: The Differences of Gaoxìng, Kuàilè and Xìngfú

written by: Sujanti Djuanda • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 10/14/2013

The Chinese word for happiness has degrees of "happiness" i.e. 高兴 【gāoxìng】(the least lasting), 快乐【kuàilè】(quite extended lasting) and 幸福 【xìngfú】(the long lasting).

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    高兴【gāoxìng=happy】describes happiness that is the least lasting or is only over a short time period It is often used to express someone's feeling that is easy to receive the influence of external things, such as momentary mood and pleasant trees.

    快乐【kuàilè=happy, happiness】is a quite extended lasting of happiness that is often used to wish people to be happy in special occasions and festivals. It's also used to express the quite extended happy feeling in a period of time and can be used to describe the personality of someone.

    幸福【xìngfú=happy】can also be translated as 'bless'. It's used to express a long lasting happy feeling, often in family life context.

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    I. Chinese Word for Happiness: 高兴【gāoxìng=happy】

    The literal meaning of 高兴【gāoxìng】is 'high excitement' in which 高【gāo=high】and 兴【xìng= mood to do something, excitement】.

    高兴【gāoxìng=happy】is often used to describe a temporary moment of happiness or excitement often due to the influence of momentary experiences or material possessions.

    Example 1:

    I'm so happy to meet you.

    我【wǒ=I】 很【hěn=very, quite, so】 高兴【gāoxìng=happy】 认识【rènshi=know】 你【nǐ=you】。

    很 高兴 认识 你。

    Or, the subject " 我【wǒ=I】" can be omitted:

    很【hěn=very】 高兴【gāoxìng=happy】 认识【rènshi=know】 你【nǐ=you】。

    很 高兴 认识 你。

    Example 2:

    Amy, are you happy to come to China?

    艾美【àiměi=Amy】,来【lái=come】中国【Zhōngguó=China】高兴【gāoxìng】吗【ma】?

    艾美,来 中国 高兴 吗?

    Example 3:

    I'm very happy to join in today's meeting.

    我【wǒ=I】 很【hěn=very】 高兴【gāoxìng=happy】 来【lái=come】 参加【cānjiā=join】今天【jīntiān=today】 的【de】 会议【huìyì=meeting】。

    我 很 高兴 来 参加 今天 的 会议。

    Example 4:

    We are very happy to collaborate with you.

    我们【wǒmén=we】很【hěn=very】高兴【gāoxìng】能够【nénggòu=can】和【hé=with】你们【nǐmén=you (second person plural)】一起【yīqǐ=together】合作【hézuò=work together, collaborate】。

    我们 很 高兴 能够 和 你们 一起 合作。

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    II. Happiness: 快乐【kuàilè】

    Quite literally, 快乐【kuàilè】is the clauses to the English word 'happy' in which 快【kuài= fast, happy】and 乐【lè=happy】.

    a. 快乐【kuàilè】is often used to wish people to be happy in special occasions and festivals.

    Example 1:

    Merry Christmas

    圣诞【shèngdàn=Christmas】快乐【kuàilè=happy】!

    圣诞 快乐【kuàilè=happy】!

    Example 2

    Happy Thanksgiving Day

    感恩节【gǎn'ēnjié= Thanksgiving day】快乐【kuàilè】!

    感恩节 快乐!

    b. 快乐【kuàilè】can be used for personality of someone.

    Example:

    Mary is a very happy person.

    玛丽【Mali=Mary】是【shì=is】一【yī=a】个【gè=a measure word for persons】很【hěn=very】快乐【kuàilè=happy】的【de】人【rén=person】。

    玛丽 是 个 很 快乐的人。

    c. 快乐【kuàilè】is used to express an extended happy feeling.

    Example:

    Tina is very happy with her job.

    Literally means," Tina loves her job, she is very happy".

    蒂娜【dìnuó=Tina】喜欢【xǐhuān=love】她的【tā de=her】工作【gōngzuò=job】,她【tā=she】很【hěn=very】快乐【kuàilè=happy】。

    蒂娜 喜欢 她的 工作,她的 很 快乐。

    d. 快乐【kuàilè】can also be used to express an extended happy feeling in a period of time.

    Example:

    I was very happy in elementary school.

    Literary means, "When I was in elementary school, I was very happy".

    小学【xiǎoxué=elementary school】的【de】时候【shíhòu=when】我【wǒ=I】很【hěn=very】快乐【kuàilè=happy】。

    小学 的 时候 我 很 快乐。

    e. 快乐【kuàilè】can means 'happiness'.

    Example:

    Don’t build your happiness on the pain of others.

    别【bié=don’t】把【bǎ】自己【zìjǐ=oneself, own】的【de】快乐【kuàilè=happiness】建筑【jiànzhù=build】在【zài=at】别人【biérén=other people】的【de】痛苦【tòngkǔ=pain】上【shàng=up】。

    别 把 自己 的 快乐 建筑 在 别人 的 痛苦 上。

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    III. Happiness: 幸福【xìngfú】

    幸福【xìngfú=happy】can also be translated as 'bless'. 幸福【xìngfú=happy】It is a major Chinese word for happiness.

    Example 1:

    Dear friends, wish your family happy.

    Dear friends, wish your family blessing.

    朋友们【péngyǒu men=friends】,祝【zhù=wish】 你们【nǐmen=you (second person plural)】 家庭【jiātíng=family】 幸福【xìngfú=happy, bless】!

    朋友们,祝 你们 家庭 幸福!

    Example 2:

    You are really happy, I work overtime everyday.

    You are really blessed, I work overtime everyday.

    你【nǐ=you】 真【zhēn=really】 幸福【xìngfú=happy, bless】,我【wǒ=I】 天天【tiāntiān=every day】 加班【jiābān=work overtime】。

    你 真 幸福,我 天天 加班。

    Example 2:

    I think that living here is so happy.

    I think that living here is so blessed.

    我【wǒ=I】 觉得【juéde=feel, think】在【zài=at】这里【zhelǐ=here】生活【shēnghuó=live】很【hěn=very】幸福【xìngfú=happy, bless】

    我 觉得 在 这里 生活 很 幸福