收 vs 受

One of the reason for setting up this blog was to write about Chinese, particularly characters that were causing me confusion. (I also meant to write about photography, which I have not done so so far). I was spurred to write this post after two characters, 收 and 受 came up in the iKnow app at smart.fm (Chinese Characters: Level 2). Despite knowing the pronunciation and meaning of both, I never realised how similar the two words are to one another. Note: I got all the meanings from MDBG

shōu: receive, accept, collect, in care of
shòu: receive, accept, suffer, subjected to, bear, stand, pleasant, (passive marker)

Compounds with similar meanings

接收 jiēshōu: receive, accept, admit, take over
接受 jiēshòu: accept, receive

收到 shōudào: receive
受到 shòudào: receive, suffer, obtained, given
(And just to complete the set 接到 (jiēdào) also means to receive)

收益 shōuyì: earnings, profit
受益 shòuyì: benefit from, profit

收礼 shōulǐ: accept a gift, receive presents
受礼 shòulǐ: accept a gift, acknowledge greetings

I had learnt the meaning of both words to be ‘to receive or to accept’, and yet had not made a connection between them. One reason to create a network of Chinese characters would be to identify these possible confusions. The difference between the two words, as far as I can tell, is that 受 is receiving something in a more passive way, and may not be something pleasant, whereas, 收 is a more active, receive something you went out to get. It makes me wonder what sort of difference could result from confusing a first and forth tone.

Compounds with different meanings

收入 shōurù: income
收成 shōuchéng: harvest
收税 shōushuì: to collect tax

Compared to:
受苦 shòukǔ: suffer
受害人 shòuhàirén: victim
受灾 shòuzāi: disaster-stricken, be hit by a natural calamity


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