Comparing "gaoxing" and "kaixin"
Both 高兴 (gāoxìng) and 开心 (kāixīn) can translated as "happy." Both can be used in formal and informal settings, although 高兴 (gāoxìng) as perhaps a tiny bit more formal. Both words are often paired with intensifiers like 很 (hěn), 太 (tài), 非常 (fēicháng). A final difference is that 高兴 (gāoxìng) is used in fixed patterns like when you meet someone for the first time and say “pleased to meet you.”
|高兴 (gāoxìng)||开心 (kāixīn)|
|Part of Speech||adjective||adjective|
In common patterns "happy" 高兴 and 开心 are interchangeable
The following examples work with both 高兴 and 开心.
- 很 开心 very happy
- 太 开心 了 so happy
- 非常 高兴 very happy
For each the following sentences, 高兴 and 开心 are correct:
- 今天 我 很 开心。 I'm happy today.
- 你 为什么 不 开心？ Why are you not happy?
- 她 很 开心 地 吃 完 了 晚饭。 She happily finished her dinner.
- 今天 我们 在 公园 玩 得 很 开心。 We had a lot of fun at the park today.
- 你 能 来，我 太 开心 了。 I am so happy that you could come.
- 今天 老师 很 高兴。 Today the teacher is happy.
- 我 很 高兴 我的 中文 变 好 了。 I'm glad my Chinese has gotten better.
- 听到 这个 笑话，我 有点 不 高兴 了。 I'm a little unhappy to hear that joke.
- 我 有 一 件 高兴 的 事情 告诉 你。 I have something happy to tell you about.
- 我 很 高兴 我们 又 见面 了。 I'm glad we met again.
To say “pleased to meet you” use 高兴
This sentence is not a traditional Chinese saying; it's more of a translation from English (or perhaps other European languages). In this case it's not that 开心 (kāixīn) is necessarily wrong; it's just that there's already a set phrase that everyone knows and expects, using 高兴 (gāoxìng).
- 认识 你 很 高兴。 Pleased to meet you.
- 很 高兴 认识 你。 Pleased to meet you.
We're using "pleased to meet you" instead of "nice to meet you" because "pleased" is closer to "happy," but you can translate that as "nice" in your head if you like.
Sources and further reading
- "高兴" 和 "开心" 和有什么不一样? (HiNative)