Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

Culture-Difference between north and south indicating direction

The difference between north and south in indicating direction
© Shanghai International Studies University

In northern cities of China, knowing 东(dōng)(east)、南(nán)(south)、 西(xī)(west)、 北(běi)(north) is very important.


For example, in Beijing, the architectural layout is well organized and neat. People like to use 东(dōng)、南(nán)、西(xī)、北(běi) to indicate directions.

Besides, if there are many gates in some buildings, they prefer to name the gates “东门(dōngmén)(East gate)、西门(xīmén)(West gate)、南门(nánmén)(South gate)、北门(běimén)(North gate)……”.

Different from northern cities, there are many waterways and rugged terrain in southern cities, so people prefer to use 上(shàng)(up)、下(xià)(down)、左(zuǒ)(left)、右(yòu)(right) to indicate direction.

When people from south of China go to north of China, it is difficult for them to find out the way, and vice versa.

Culture-Difference between north and south indicating direction Image 1

© Shanghai International Studies University
This article is from the free online

Learn Chinese: Introduction to Chinese Conversation

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education