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Hi @YuQinCai, @Constance_Fang @Fiona and the ChinesePod team, my question is this:
There are some words in chinese which are composed with the same characters but in opposite order like 故事 and 事故. Some have very different meaning like the previous example story and accident. Some times they have the same meaning but different gramatical category 适合 and 合适 adjective and verb. But in some other cases the difference is very slight like 提问-问题,提议-议题, 好看-看好,貌美-美貌.
Are there some rules to differentiate those words?
Which is the most important the first or the second character ?
This last question in fact may apply to any compound word.


提问 means raising a question so it emphasizes the action
问题 is a noun and means the question.

Hi OldMartin,
There is no rules for these words with different meaning in opposite order, there is not many vacubularies like can just remember that when it appeared.
提问 : is a verb, emphasize you raise a questions.
问题: is a nouns, means question.
提议: is a verb, means advise, put forward a suggestion or someone’s opinion
议题: is a nouns, means the topic of the meeting, or the topic that they are going to discuss. normally means the topic of the meeting.
好看:is an adj , means good looking, for example: 你的裙子很好看。
看好:is a verb, means someone or some industry will have good future or prospect。 for example: 1,我相当看好以后的AI 技术。2,我看好你(means I believe you will success in the future).

貌美 and 美貌: they are the same meaning, can be exchanged in the sentence.
for example , I also know " 意见 and 建议” you can see they are totally different, 意见 means opinion, 建议 means advise.

Hi there,

Before I answer your question, there’s something you have to know. In Chinese, there are some different ways Chinese vocabulary being made:

  1. A+B:A is similar with or different from B
    e.g.买卖 [mǎimài] to buy + to sell = do business, 国家 [guójiā] country + home = country
    In this category, the word’s meaning sometimes comes from one of the words (e.g.国家), but it sometimes comes from both words (e.g.买卖).

  2. Adj+N or Adv+V:the main meaning comes from the N or V
    e.g.公牛 [gōngniú] male + bull, 微笑 [wēi xiào] slight + smile

  3. V+C:the main meaning comes from the V, C is used to give more information about the verb
    e.g.打翻 [dǎ fān] bump into + spill, 打破 [dǎpò] bump into + break

  4. V+O:the main meaning comes from the V, O is the object receiving the action
    e.g.唱歌 [chànggē] sing + song, 跳舞 [tiàowǔ] jump + dance

  5. N+V:the main meaning comes from the situation that the noun and the verb build.
    e.g.地震 [dìzhèn] earth + shake, 年轻 [niánqīng] age + light

According to the categories I mention here, you may find out that yes there are rules among the words. But still, we can’t tell whether the 1st or the 2nd character is important unless we know the construction of the vocabulary.

提问:V (to raise) +N (a question) = to ask
问题:V (to ask) + N (a question) = a question (that one asks)
提议:V (to raise) + N (an issue) = to suggest
议题:V (to argue) +N (an issue) = an issue (that people discuss)
好看:A (good) + V (to look) = good looking
看好:V (to look) + C (good) = think highly of sb. or sth.
貌美:N (appearance) + A (pretty) = pretty
美貌:A (pretty) + N (appearance) = pretty appearance

Do you have this type of content in a video or audio lesson? It’s a really fascinating topic and would make for a great lesson for people to listen to, I think.