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Lesson 3 – Advanced – Words Analysis about 究竟, 到底 for HSK Exam

“究竟” and “到底” are two important words in the HSK exam. This is the words analysis about these two words for the free Chinese lesson.

<adverb> investigate and stress on the nature or characteristic of things.
“究竟” and “到底” are quite close in meaning and they are exchangeable generally. Therefore, it is little hard to distinguish the two words in the HSK exam. And we will introduce the similarity as following in free Chinese lesson.

You can see it in the HSK exam that both can be use in the interrogative sentence without “吗” or in the sentences implying interrogative meaning, indicating the interrogative mood of investigating.
For example:
你究竟/到底怎么了? 你怎么不说话呀?
(Robbing in broad daylight, is there actually the law?)

Both can be used in declarative sentence to stress on the tone. Usually the sentence implies evaluation which means “no matter how…, it is still…” They are mainly used in the sentence of “是”. It is often shown in the HSK exam. 
For example:
(After all, he is a child. How can he be so considerate?)

Slight difference between “究竟” and “到底”. The HSK exam often involves the difference of these two words. In the HSK exam, these two words are often distinguished in flavour. 
In flavour: since “究竟” has the flavour of written language, it is used in written language; while “到底” has strong flavour of spoken language, it is used in colloquial language.

In interrogative mood, the investigating angle of the two words is slightly different. “究竟” emphasizes the cause of a matter, or to make clear what happens; while “到底” mainly means to make a profound inquiry. It is an important part in the HSK exam.

Other usages in the HSK exam for the free Chinese lesson
In the HSK exam ,“到底” indicates that after all the changes or complications something is realized in the end; “究竟” doesn’t indicate this.
For example:
(You’ve come in the end. I’ve been waiting for you so painstakingly.)
* 卫星究竟发射成功了。
* 他用了三天三夜的时间,究竟把设计图拿出来了。

In the HSK exam, “究竟” is also used as a noun, indicating (result), (all the details), and to be used as object. In structure, it composes the pattern “verb+个+究竟” is not used in this way.
For example:
(You want to find what actually happened. Well, let me tell you the truth.)
(Go to get him here. I’ll ask him what on earth he has done.)
* 你不是想探个到底吗?来,我告诉你。
* (门外吵吵闹闹的)她推开门,想看个到底。
* 你去把他叫来,我非问出个到底来不可

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