Chinese Language Blog

Chinese Conjunctions Part Two Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in Vocabulary

Have you studied the basic Chinese conjunctions in the first post? If not, go back and brush up on those before moving on. This post introduces some compound conjunctions, which use a few of the words we learned in the first lesson in a more advanced way.

Apart from/Except; In addition

(除了… 以外 – chú le… yǐ wài)

This is a very versatile Chinese conjunction, as it can be used to both exclude (apart from/except) and include (in addition). Here are a few examples of this conjunction being used in an exclusive way:

Obama says "good good study, day day up!"

Obama says “good good study, day day up!”

Apart from Saturday, I study every day.
chú le xīng qī liù yǐ wài, wǒ měi tiān dōu xué xí

Except football, he likes sports.
chú le zú qiú yǐ wài, tā dōu xǐ huān yùn dòng

You’ll notice in those two examples the use of the word 都 (dōu), meaning “all.” In the first sentence, this shows that the person studies all days apart from Saturday. In the second, they like all sports except football. Now let’s see how this conjunction can be used to be inclusive.

In addition to Chinese, he can also speak Japanese.
chú le zhōng wén yǐ wài, tā yě huì shuō rì yǔ

In addition to Europe, I also want to go to Africa.
chú le ōu zhōu yǐ wài, wǒ hái yào qù fēi zhōu

You’ll notice in those examples the use of 也 (yě) and 还 (hái), both meaning “also.” You can use either one, with the end result being an inclusive sentence. Aren’t compound conjunctions fun?!

Although… but…

(虽然… 但是 – suī rán… dàn shì)

This one may seem a bit odd to native English speakers, as it’s not necessary to add “but” in English. It is necessary in Chinese, though. This structure shows that while the first part of the sentence is true, there is an adverse reaction in the second part. Take a look at a few examples:

The traffic in BJ sucks.

The traffic in BJ sucks.

Although I really like Beijing, (but) I don’t like living here.
suī rán wǒ hěn xǐ huān běi jīng, dàn shì wǒ bù xǐ huān zhù zài zhè lǐ

Although he lives in China, (but) his Chinese isn’t very good.
suī rán tā zhù zài zhōng guó, dàn shì tā de zhōng wén bù tài hǎo

Although she is American, (but) she hasn’t been to Washington.
suī rán tā shì měi guó rén, dàn shì tā hái méi qù guò huá shèng dùn

It might seem strange to English speakers to add the “but” in the middle of the sentence there, but that’s just the way it is in Chinese. Remember, you can’t always directly translate!

Because… so…

(因为… 所以 – yīn wèi… suǒ yǐ)

Just like the example above, this one might seem odd to English speakers. While we wouldn’t add “so” in the middle of a sentence starting with “because,” that’s just the way it is in Chinese. See how it’s used in these examples:

Sichuan food sure is spicy.

Sichuan food sure is spicy.

Because they love to eat spicy, (so) they ordered Sichuan food.
yīn wèi tā men ài chī là de, suǒ yǐ tā men diǎn le sì chuān cài

Because I don’t have time, (so) I can’t go to the party.
yīn wèi wǒ méi yǒu shí jiān, suǒ yǐ wǒ bù néng qù pài duì

Because she studied hard, (so) she found a really good job.
yīn wèi tā nǔ lì xué xí, tā zhǎo dào le hěn hǎo de gōng zuò

Basically, the pattern for using this compound conjunction is: 因为 + Cause , 所以 + Effect. Try practicing it and making a few sentences of your own!


There are certainly other conjunctions, both simple and compound, but the ones that we’ve covered in these two posts are very common and will get you well on your way to improving your Chinese fluency. Nobody likes homework, but it’s a good idea to come up with your own examples for all of them, even if they’re very simple.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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