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If, While, Because, Even Though, Also — Correlatives in Chinese

(thatsmandarin.com) | Feb 09, 2022

As a Chinese beginner, at some point you might reach a plateau in your learning. Don't worry, every Chinese learner has experienced that. Knowing some basic Chinese correlatives – "because", if", "while", "even though" – will take your Chinese to a new level. Let's explore the 5 most common Mandarin Chinese correlatives today!


1. 因为 (yīn wèi), 所以 (suǒ yǐ)

因为 (yīn wèi) means "because", and 所以 (suǒ yǐ) means "therefore". When "因为 (yīn wèi)…….所以 (suǒ yǐ)……" is often used to indicate causality. When it comes to the use of this structure, the first part stands for the Reason, whereas the second part indicates the Result.

Example
因为我喜欢中国,所以我学中文。
(Yīn wèi wǒ xǐ huan zhōng guó, suǒ yǐ wǒ xué zhōng wén.)
I like China, therefore I'm studying Chinese.

However, both 因为 (yīn wèi) and 所以(suǒ yǐ) can be used on their own in a sentence, and here are some examples to help you better understand them:

我想去餐厅,因为我饿了。
(Wǒ xiǎng qù cān tīng, yīn wèi wǒ è le.)
I want to go to the restaurant because I'm hungry.

今天很热,所以我去游泳。
(Jīn tiān hěn rè, suǒ yǐ wǒ qù yóu yǒng.)
It's very hot today, and therefore I'll go swimming.

Vocabulary:
热 (rè): hot
游泳 (yóu yǒng): to swim


2. 虽然 (suī rán), 但是 (dàn shì)

虽然 (suī rán) means "although", 但是 (dàn shì) means "but". when put together, "虽然 (suī rán), 但是 (dàn shì) " translates as "even though…." and indicates concession. What you need to pay attention to is that if an English sentence starts with the word "although", there is no need to add "but" to the beginning of the second part of the sentence. However, in Mandarin Chinese, these two words often appear in the same sentence as a structure.

Example
虽然中文很难,但是很有意思。
Suī rán zhōng wén hěn nán, dàn shì hěn yǒu yì si.
Although Chinese is very hard, it's very interesting.

Vocabulary
难 (nán): difficult
有意思 (yǒu yìsi): interesting

3. 不但 (bù dàn), 而且 (ér qiě)


不但 (bù dàn) means "not only", 而且 (ér qiě) means "furthermore". When put together, "不但 (bù dàn)……而且 (ér qiě)……" means "not only…..but also…..". As the word 而且 (érqiě) means "moreover", therefore, the structure is usually used when you would like to add some additional information about something or someone. Besides, "而且(ér qiě)" can sometimes be followed by 还 (hái) (meaning also/still) in order to put an emphasis on the second part.

Example
艾米丽不但漂亮,而且(还)很聪明。
Emily bù dàn piào liang, ér qiě (hái) hěn cōng míng.
Emily is not only beautiful but also very smart.

Vocabulary
漂亮 (piào liang): beautiful
聪明 (cōng míng): smart, clever

4. 一边 (yī biān), 一边 (yī biān)


The literal meaning of 一边(yī biān) is "one side", and the structure can be used to describe a person who is doing two things at the same time, which is very close to the literal translation of the structure (doing things on two sides).

Example
我一边喝咖啡一边听音乐。
(Wǒ yī biān hē kā fēi yī biān tīng yīn yuè.)
I drink coffee while listening to music.

Vocabulary
音乐 (yīn yuè): music


5. 如果 (rú guǒ), 就 (jiù)


如果 (rú guǒ) means "if", 就 (jiù) means "as soon as", and when put together, the structure translates as "if…". It is often used to express the idea that something can only be done under a certain condition. In this structure, 如果 (rú guǒ) is followed by the condition, and the outcome goes after the word 就 (jiù).

Example
如果明天不下雨,我们就去公园.
(Rú guǒ míng tiān bù xià yǔ, wǒ men jiù qù gōng yuán.)
We'll go to the park if it doesn't rain tomorrow.

Vocabulary
下雨 (xià yǔ): to rain
公园 (gōng yuán): park

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