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The Differences Between the Two Chinese Words “给(Gěi)” & “送(Sòng)”

Welcome to our Chinese learning series – Ask Litao. In each video of this new series, we’re going to answer your questions about learning Chinese.

Today’s question is from one of our YouTube students, “Lǎoshī, I have a problem with 给(gěi) and 送(sòng). What’s the difference between them? How can I use them? Thanks!”

1. 给(gěi) and 送(sòng) can both be used as a verb to express the meaning of “to give”.
When we say 给(gěi) somebody something, this thing could be a gift, which you don’t need to give back or pay for it, it also could not be a gift, we need the context to figure out which one the speaker really means.
But when we say 送(sòng) somebody something, the thing is given as a gift for sure.
For example,
他给了我一本书。
Tā gěi le wǒ yī běn shū.
The book could be given to me as a gift, or he just lets me read the book, I have to give it back to him later. The meaning is not clear without the context.

他送了我一本书。
Tā sòng le wǒ yī běn shū.
The meaning of this sentence is very clear, we know that he gave me a book as a gift.

2. We can use 给(gěi) to order food or drinks, like, at the coffee shop, you ask them to give you a cup of coffee, you can say:
请给我一杯咖啡。
Qǐng gěi wǒ yī bēi kāfēi.
Please give me a cup of coffee.
We know the coffee is not for free, you need to pay for it.

That would be wired if you say:
请送我一杯咖啡。
Qǐng sòng wǒ yī bēi kāfēi.
Please give me a cup of coffee as a gift. /Please give me a cup of coffee for free.
There is a chance you can say this, which you already bought let’s say 10 cups of coffee, and you want to get some kind of discount, then you ask them to give you another cup of coffee for free. In this situation, it would make sense.

3. 送(sòng) has several meanings that 给(gěi) doesn’t have.
The first meaning is “to deliver”, for example, you called for takeout, then you tell them where the food should be delivered to:
请送到南京路88号。
Qǐng sòng dào Nánjīnglù 88 hào.
Please deliver to No 88 Nanjing Road.

The second meaning is “to see sb off/out”, for example, your good friend is leaving tomorrow, so you tell your friend:
明天我去机场送你。
Míngtiān wǒ qù jīchǎng sòng nǐ.
Tomorrow I will go to see you off at airport.
You go to airport to say goodbye to your friend.

The third meaning is “to take someone to somewhere”, for example, you are going home from work, but suddenly it started raining heavily, so you ask a colleague who drives if she/he can take you to subway station:
你可以送我到地铁站吗?
Nǐ kěyǐ sòng wǒ dào dìtiězhàn ma?
Could you take me to subway station?

4. 送(sòng) can only be a verb, but 给(gěi) can also be a preposition, and often be translated as “to” or “for”. We already saw 给(gěi) as a preposition many times in lesson 15, 24, 37 and 40 of our elementary Chinese course.
Here is a question for you:
How do you say “buy one, get one free” in Chinese, 买一给一(mǎi yī gěi yī) or 买一送一(mǎi yī sòng yī)?
Please leave you answer in comments.

The Differences Between the Two Chinese Words “给(Gěi)” & “送(Sòng)”

Welcome to our Chinese learning series – Ask Litao. In each video of this new series, we’re going to answer your questions about learning Chinese.

Today’s question is from one of our YouTube students, “Lǎoshī, I have a problem with 给(gěi) and 送(sòng). What’s the difference between them? How can I use them? Thanks!”

1. 给(gěi) and 送(sòng) can both be used as a verb to express the meaning of “to give”.
When we say 给(gěi) somebody something, this thing could be a gift, which you don’t need to give back or pay for it, it also could not be a gift, we need the context to figure out which one the speaker really means.
But when we say 送(sòng) somebody something, the thing is given as a gift for sure.
For example,
他给了我一本书。
Tā gěi le wǒ yī běn shū.
The book could be given to me as a gift, or he just lets me read the book, I have to give it back to him later. The meaning is not clear without the context.

他送了我一本书。
Tā sòng le wǒ yī běn shū.
The meaning of this sentence is very clear, we know that he gave me a book as a gift.

2. We can use 给(gěi) to order food or drinks, like, at the coffee shop, you ask them to give you a cup of coffee, you can say:
请给我一杯咖啡。
Qǐng gěi wǒ yī bēi kāfēi.
Please give me a cup of coffee.
We know the coffee is not for free, you need to pay for it.

That would be wired if you say:
请送我一杯咖啡。
Qǐng sòng wǒ yī bēi kāfēi.
Please give me a cup of coffee as a gift. /Please give me a cup of coffee for free.
There is a chance you can say this, which you already bought let’s say 10 cups of coffee, and you want to get some kind of discount, then you ask them to give you another cup of coffee for free. In this situation, it would make sense.

3. 送(sòng) has several meanings that 给(gěi) doesn’t have.
The first meaning is “to deliver”, for example, you called for takeout, then you tell them where the food should be delivered to:
请送到南京路88号。
Qǐng sòng dào Nánjīnglù 88 hào.
Please deliver to No 88 Nanjing Road.

The second meaning is “to see sb off/out”, for example, your good friend is leaving tomorrow, so you tell your friend:
明天我去机场送你。
Míngtiān wǒ qù jīchǎng sòng nǐ.
Tomorrow I will go to see you off at airport.
You go to airport to say goodbye to your friend.

The third meaning is “to take someone to somewhere”, for example, you are going home from work, but suddenly it started raining heavily, so you ask a colleague who drives if she/he can take you to subway station:
你可以送我到地铁站吗?
Nǐ kěyǐ sòng wǒ dào dìtiězhàn ma?
Could you take me to subway station?

4. 送(sòng) can only be a verb, but 给(gěi) can also be a preposition, and often be translated as “to” or “for”. We already saw 给(gěi) as a preposition many times in lesson 15, 24, 37 and 40 of our elementary Chinese course.
Here is a question for you:
How do you say “buy one, get one free” in Chinese, 买一给一(mǎi yī gěi yī) or 买一送一(mǎi yī sòng yī)?
Please leave you answer in comments.

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