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How to Make Your Chinese Sound Native Part I

Sep. 21, 2018

HSK 3 quiz

Welcome to part I of commonly used word pairs. This is one of the best ways to improve your Chinese and help your speaking sound more native. Let’s look at various “递进关系 (dìjìn guānxì) progressive relationships” and “转折关系 (zhuǎnzhé guānxì) transition relationships” between words. These are very common to use in sentences for everyday conversation. By learning these commonly associated words you can get closer to sounding native faster than ever!

1. “不但 (Búdàn)” …. “而且 (érqiě)”

There are a few ways to express “not only … but also”, in Chinese. One way is to add “不但 (búdàn)” …. “而且 (érqiě)” in a sentence. Put the sentence this way: Noun + 不但 (búdàn) + A, 而且 + B. Adjectives, verbs or phrases could be used in place of A or B.

For example:

Tā búdàn hěn piàoliang, érqiě hěn cōngmíng.
She is not only beautiful but also intelligent.

(The Different Ways to Say “因为 (yīnwèi) BECAUSE”and “所以 (suǒyǐ) SO” in Chinese)

2. “不仅 (Bùjǐn)”…..“还 (hái)…..”

The next way to express “not only … but also” is “不仅 (bùjǐn)”…..“还 (hái)…..” The pattern can also be used omitting “还 (hái)”, and instead using adverbs like “也 () and also” in its place.

The structure for this is: Subj. + 不仅 (bùjǐn), 还/也 + …
The same subject should apply to both the first and the second part to use it properly.

For example:

Tā bùjǐn huì shuō yīngyǔ, hái huì shuō fǎyǔ.
He not only speaks English but also speaks French.

3. “虽然 (Suīrán)”…”但是 (dànshì)…”

Next, let’s look at “转折关系 (zhuǎnzhé guānxì) transition relationship” words to use as well. First is: “虽然 (suīrán) although”…”但是 (dànshì) but…”

(Have a Mini Test About “但是 (dànshì)“)

You can think of it as meaning “although,” but unlike in English, you still need to follow it with a “but” word in Chinese. The structure is easy: “虽然 (suīrán) ⋯⋯, 但是 (dànshì)⋯⋯”

To properly use it, know that “虽然 (suīrán)⋯⋯ 但是 (dànshì)⋯⋯”, expresses that, while the former part of the sentence is true, there is an adverse reaction in the latter part. Simply put, the pattern means, “although… but….” In English, you wouldn’t normally need “but” there, but it is required in Chinese.

For example:

Yéye suīrán qī shí duō suì le, dànshì tā jīngshén hěn hǎo.
Although grandpa is in his seventies, he looks very well.

4. “尽管 (Jǐnguǎn)” ··· “还是 (háishì)…”

The last commonly associated words we can use to express ourselves is “尽管 (jǐnguǎn) in spite of” ··· “还是 (háishì) still is…”

“尽管 (jǐnguǎn)” means “although,” and is a little stronger than “虽然 (suīrán) although,” perhaps more like “even though.” This last structure is also very simple: “尽管 (jǐnguǎn)⋯⋯, 还是 (háishì)⋯⋯”

A useful tip is that “可 () can” or “但是 (dànshì) but” can be added before “还是 (háishì)” to further emphasize the shift in meaning in the second phrase.

For example:

Jǐnguǎn hěn duō rén fǎnduì, tā háishì jiānchí zhème zuò.
Although many people opposed it, he insisted on doing so.

Can you successfully use them in a sentence? Although it may seem confusing at first the sentence structures are straightforward so all you must do is plug in the words. Give it a try in the comments. After practicing these commonly associated words, you too can sound more native!

Key words:

1. 转折关系 (zhuǎnzhé guānxì) transition relationships

2. 递进关系 (dìjìn guānxì) progressive relationships

HSK 3 quiz

1. Please fill in the blanks with appropriate associated words. 

Chōuyān (    ) duì zìjǐ shēntǐ yǒuhài, (    ) huì yǐngxiǎng tārén jiànkāng.
抽烟 (    ) 对自己身体有害,(    ) 会影响他人健康。

A. 不但 (Bùdàn···而且 (érqiě)···

B. 虽然 (Suīrán)···但是 (dànshì)···

C. 尽管 (Jǐnguǎn)···还是 (háishì)···

See Answer Analysis

— Written by Julia Liu —
Julia Liu teaches Chinese with eChineselearning. She has been successfully teaching for 5 years and loves reading and practices her passion for drawing in her free time.

Beginner Guide to Chinese Grammar:
Basic Sentence Patterns in Chinese
Mandarin for Beginners: Sentence Structure “A不A”
Expressing “Not Even One” in Chinese

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