Complex Sentences and Compact Sentences

BY CchattyArticleComprehensive Chinese
Release time:2019-01-11
Tag: Chinese Language
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A few connectives used in the Chinese complex sentences to indicate conditional clauses. And Chinese compact sentences can have some link words, inserted in the middle.
part 1

The Complex Sentence and Simple Sentence

The Complex Sentence and Simple Sentence

With the topic-prominent feature of Chinese sentences, the frequent use of the punctuation comma between word groups and clauses, the omission of sentence subjects, and paratactic sentence structure, it is often hard to draw the dividing line between the Chinese single sentences and complex ones. Even to date, there are controversial points of view among Chinese language scholars. However, there are some general distinctive points that most Chinese linguists agree on, such as the following:


1. Difference One

A complex sentence (CS) has two or more subject + predicate structures, while the simple sentence (SS) has only one even though its subject or predicate can be a combination of more than one words or word groups.

1) 小李是学生,小张也是学生。(CS)       

xiao3li3 shi4 xue2sheng1, xiao3 zhang1 ye3 shi4 xue2sheng1.

Xiao Li is a student, and so is Xiao Zhang.


2) 小李和小张都是学生。(SS)   

xiao3li3 he2 xiao3zhang1 dou1 shi4 xue2sheng.

Xiao Li and Xiao Zhang are both students.


3) 风停了,雨也停了。(CS)       

feng1 ting2 le, yu3 ye3 ting2 le.

The wind ceased, and so does the rain.


4) 风和雨都停了。(SS)        

feng1 he2 yu3 dou1 ting2 le.

The wind and rain both ceased.


5) 王老师在上海,赵老师在北京。(CS)  

wang2 lao3shi1 zai4 shang4hai3, zhao4 lao4shi4 zai4 bei3jing1.

Teacher Wang is in Shanghai, and Teacher Zhao is in Beijing.


6) 王老师、赵老师分别在上海和北京。(SS)

Wang2lao3shi1 zhao1lao3shi1 fei1bie2 zai4 shang4hai3 he2 bei3jing1.

Teacher Wang and Teacher Zhao are respectively in Shanghai and Beijing.

7) 你学汉语,我学汉语,他也学汉语。(CS)  

ni3 xue2 han4yu3, wo3 xue2 han4yu3, ta1 ye3 xue2 han4yu3.

You learn Mandarin; I learn Mandarin, and so does he.


8) 你、我、他都学汉语。(SS)   

ni3, wo3, ta1 dou1 xue2 han4yu3.

You, me and him all learn Mandarin.


9) 时间是金钱,时间是生命。(CS)

shi2jian1 shi4 jin1qian2, shi2jian1 shi4 sheng1ming4.

Time is money; time is life.


10) 时间是金钱和生命。(SS)        

shi2jian1 shi4 jin1qian2 he2 sheng1ming4.

Time is money and life.


11) 我有两本词典,一本是英中词典,一本是中英词典。(CS)       

wo3 you3 liang3ben3 ci2dian3, yi4ben3 shi4 ying1 zhong1 ci2dian3, yi4ben3 shi4 zhong1ying1 ci2dian3.

I have two dictionaries, one English-Chinese and the other Chinese-English.


12 ) 我的两本词典,一本是英中词典,一本是中英词典。

wo3 de liang3 ben3 ci2dian3, yi1 ben3 shi4 ying1 zhong1 ci2dian3, yi1 ben3 shi4 zhong1 ying1 ci2dian3.

I have two dictionaries, one English-Chinese and the other Chinese-English.


In the above, examples marked with odd numbers are all considered as complex sentences while those marked with even numbers are taken as simple ones. Sentences 1), 3) and 5) all have two subject-predicate structures, and sentence 7) has three. Sentence 9) also has two subject-predicate structures in spite of the repetition of the subject word. Sentence 8) has one subject made of three personal pronouns and sentence. Sentence 10) has one predicate made of two words. Sentence 11) has three clauses, and sentence 12) has one subject served by a noun phrase (我的两本词典).


2. Difference Two

A complex sentence has two or more sentence predicates separated with a pause in speech or a comma in writing, while the simple sentence has only one predicate even if it contains the same verbs or verbal phrases as in the complex sentences. In the former case, the subject of the latter clause is considered to be omitted in the context, and in the latter, the verbs or verbal phrases are regarded as word groups in the same clause.

1) 他离开家乡,去了国外。(CS)

ta1 li2kai1 jia1xiang1, qu4 le guo2wai4.

He left his homeland and went abroad.

2) 他离开家乡去了国外。(SS)

ta1 li2kai1 jia1xiang1 qu4 le guo2wai4.

He left home for abroad.


3) 我知道他,很聪明。(CS)       

wo3 zhi1dao4 ta1, hen3 cong1 ming2.

I know him, who is very intelligent.


4)  我知道他很聪明。(SS)

wo3 zhi1dao4 ta1 hen3 cong1 ming2.

I know he is very intelligent.


5) 他教我们汉语,教得很好。(CS)  

ta1 jiao1 wo3men han4yu3, jiao1 de hen3 hao3.

He teaches us Mandarin and does it very well.


6) 他教我们汉语教得很好。(SS)

ta1 jiao1 wo3men han4yu3 jiao1 de hen3 hao3.

He taught us Mandarin very well.


7) 学生打扫了教室,打扫得很干净。(CS)

xue2sheng1 da3sao3 le jiao4shi4, da3sao3 de hen3 gan1ging4.

The students have cleaned the classroom and did it very clean.


8) 学生打扫教室打扫得很干净。(SS)

xue2sheng1 da3sao3 jiao4shi4 da3sao3 de hen3 gan1ging4.

The students have done a good job cleaning the classroom.


In the above examples, those with clauses separated by the comma are considered to be complex sentences because the clauses are understood as independent predicates with the repetition of subjects in the succeeding clauses omitted.

Therefore, it is obvious that the punctuation mark plays a deciding role in the above examples. And what in modern Chinese is different from English is that there is a special punctuation mark called "the pause mark", which is used mainly in between a series of items. The items separated with this mark in a sentence is considered as a single grammatical component and hence the sentence a simple one. The following example can demonstrate this difference more clearly.


She is liberated and beautiful.

a) 她大方漂亮。(SS)      ta1 da4fang piao4liang.

b) 她大方、漂亮。(SS)

c) 她大方,漂亮。(CS)

d) 她大方:漂亮。(CS)

Sentences 9) and 10) are considered to be simple ones while sentences 11) and 12) are taken as complex ones.


3. Difference Three

In a complex sentence, a construct separated by the comma cannot be taken within the other clause as its grammatical component, while in a simple sentence there is a verb (such as "说" and "认为” in sentences 1, 3 and 6) that governs all separated components.

1) 妈妈说:时间到了,你该起床了。(SS)

ma1ma shuo1: shi2jian1 dao4 le, ni3 gai1 qi3chuang2 le.

Mother said, “It's time, for you to get up”.


2) 时间到了,你该起床了。(CS)

shi2jian1 dao4 le, ni3 gai1 qi3chuang2 le.

It's time, and you ought to get up.


3) 老师告诉我说:“因为你努力,所以你取得了好成绩。” (SS)

lao3shi1 gao4su4 wo3 shuo1: "yi1wei2 ni3 nu3li4, suo3yi1 ni3 qu3de2 le hao3 cheng2ji4".

The teacher told me, “because you worked hard, you have got a good result."


4) 因为你努力,所以你取得了好成绩。(CS)

yi1wei2 ni3 nu3li4, suo3yi1 ni3 qu3de2 le hao3 cheng2ji4

Because you worked hard, you have got a good result.


5) 我认为,学习汉语要先学好声调,声调是口语的基础。(SS)

wo3 ren4wei2 xue2xi2 han4yu3 yao4 xian1 xue2 hao3 sheng1diao4, sheng1diao4 shi4 kou3yu3 de ji1chu3.

I believe that in learning Mandarin one should first learn the tones well, for it is the basics of the spoken language.


6) 学习汉语要先学好声调,声调是口语的基础。(CS)

xue2xi2 han4yu3 yao4 xian1 xue2 hao3 sheng1diao4, sheng1diao4 shi4 kou3yu3 de ji1chu3.

I believe that in learning Mandarin one should first learn the tones well, for it is the basics of the spoken language.

In learning Mandarin, one should first learn the tones well, for it is the basics of the spoken language. In the above, odd numbered are regarded as simples sentences, while sentences of even numbers are complex ones.

4. Difference Four

A complex sentence in the formal writing or speech is often made up with function words giving the relations between the clauses. However, since many such Chinese words can be used either as prepositions or connectives, it is therefore important to distinguish simple sentences using prepositions that are same with the connectives in complex sentences. The basic standard for discriminating the two is: prepositions in simple sentences are followed by nouns or noun phrases, while connectives in complex sentences are followed by verbal phrases. Therefore, the examples with odd numbers in the following are simple sentences, and those with even numbers are complex ones.

1) 为了家庭,他工作很努力。(SS)

wei4 le jia1ting2, ta1 gong1zuo4 hen3 nu3li4.

For the sake of his family, he works very hard.


2) 为了维持家庭生活,他工作很努力。(CS)

wei4 le wei2chi2 jia1ting2, ta1 gong1zuo4 hen3 nu3li4.

For maintaining family subsistence, he works very hard.


3) 为了公司的发展,他决定贷款。(SS)

 wei4 le gong1si1 de fa1zhan3, ta1 jue2ding4 dai4kuan3.

For the sake of the company's development, he has decided to take a loan.


4) 为了公司取得更大发展,他决定贷款。(CS)

wei4 le gong1si1 qu3 de2 geng4 da4 fa1zhan3, ta1 jue2ding4 dai4kuan3.

To make the company further develop, he has decided to take a loan.


5) 由于老板的重视,他提升很快。(SS)

you2yu2 lao3ban3 de zhong4shi1, ta1 ti2sheng1 hen3 kuai4.

With the high regards of the boss, he was promoted quickly.


6) 由于老板重视,他提升很快。(CS)

you2yu2 lao3ban3 zhong4shi, ta1 ti2sheng1 hen3 kuai4

Because the boss highly regarded him, he was promoted very fast.


7) 除了语文,其它各科的成绩都比较好。(SS)        

chu2le yu3wen2, qi2ta1 ge4 ke1 de cheng2ji4 dou1 bi3jiao4 hao3.

Except for the Chinese, other courses have relatively good scores.


8) 除了语文考得不理想,其它各科成绩都比较好。(CS)       

chu2le yu3wen2 kao4 de bu4 li4xiang4, qi2ta ge4 ke1 cheng2ji4 dou1 bi3jiao4 hao3.

Except for Chinese, of which the test result is unsatisfactory.


The odd numbered sentences in the above are considered to be simple sentences because the words "为了”, "由于", and "除了" are followed by nouns or noun phrase, while in the even-numbered sentences they are succeeded by verbal phrases or sentences.

part 2

Complex Sentences and Connectives

Complex Sentences and Connectives

The clause connectives such as "为了", "由于", "因为” and "除了" in the above are frequently used as complex sentence markers, especially in more formal writing or speech, although there is certainly a crossing of the formal and informal styles. What's more, these connectives may often be used in collocation with other words to form up fixed structures. Therefore, learning to use the connectives in the right collocation are usually understood as basics for making complex sentences, especially in formal writing. In the following, we provide more examples of the use of such connectives which make explicit the different relations of the clauses.


1. Conditions

There are quite a few connectives used in the Chinese complex sentences to indicate conditional clauses. However, since Chinese does not have morphological changes, it often depends on the context to understand whether the conditions are subjunctive or not. There are basically three kinds of conditional sentences in Chinese, respectively listed and exemplified in the following.


A. Positive Conditionals: if … then…







1) 如果下雨,运动会就推迟。

ru2guo3 xia4yu3, yun4dong4hui4 jiu4 tui1chi2.

If it rains, the sports meet will be put off.


2) 如果电脑出现故障,你就找他帮忙。

ru2guo3 dian4nao3 chu1xian4 gu4zhang4, ni3 jiu4 zhao3 ta1 bang1bang2.

In case the computer is in trouble, you can ask him for help.


3) 我下周只要有空,就一定过来看你。

wo3 xia4zhou1 zhi3yao4 you3 kong4, jiu4 yi2ding4 guo4lai2 kan4 ni3.

I will certainly come over to see you next week if only I am free.


4) 只有在收到你的确认以后,我才能签订合同。

zhi3you3  zai4 shou1 dao4 ni3 de que4ren4 yi3hou4, wo3 cai2 neng2 qian1ding4 he2tong.

Only after receiving your confirmation can I sign the contract.


5) 既然这东西并不那么便宜,那我就不买了。

ji4ran2 zhe4 dong1xi bing4bu2 pian2yi, na4 wo3 jiu4 bu4 mai3 le.

If this thing is not so cheap, I will not buy.


6) 万一出现紧急情况,就从这里出去。

Wan4yi1 chu1xian4 jin3ji2 qing2kuang4, jiu4 cong2 zhe4li3 chu1qu4.

In case there should be some emergency, you (we) could get out from here.


B. Concessive Conditionals: even if ... still ...



1) 老师讲的他即使没有完全理解,也都记住了。

lao3shi1 jiang3de ta1 ji4shi3 mei2you3 wan2quan2 li3jie3, ye3 dou1 ji4 zhu4 le.

What the teacher has said is all learned by heart even if not fully understood.


2) 即使遇到很大的困难,你也要坚持下去。

ji2shi3 yu4 dao4 hen3 da4 de kun4nan2, ni1ye3 yao4 jian1 chi2 xia4 qu4.

Whatever great difficulty you encounter, you should hold on.


3) 即使会长不能来,我们也要开会。

ji4hi3 hui4zhang3 bu4 neng2 lai2, wo3men ye3 yao4 kai1hui4.

Even if the president can not spare time to come, the meeting will still be held.

4) 就算我们有很多钱,那也不能浪费。

jiu4 suan4 wo3men you3 hen3 duo1 qian2, na4 ye3 bu4neng2 lang4fei4.

However rich we are, we cannot waste.


C. Excluding Conditionals: whatever ... still...

无论wu2lun4… 都dou1…;

不管bu4guan3…都 dou1…;

1) 无论是谁,都要遵守交通规则。

wu2lun4 shi4 shui2, dou1 yao4 zun1shou3 jiao1tong1 gui1ze2.

Whoever it is, he has to follow traffic rules.


2) 无论做什么事情,都要尽量做好。

wu2lun4 zuo4 shen2me shi4qing, dou1 yao4 jin4liang4 zuo4 hao3.

whatever work you (/we) do, you (/we) must try to do it well.


3) 无论天气怎么样,活动都会照常进行。

wu2lun4 tian1qi4 zen3meyang4, huo2dong4 dou1 hui4 zhao4chang2 jin4xing2.

Whatever the weather conditions, the activity will be held as scheduled.


4) 不管在哪里,我都要把汉字学好。

bu4guan3 zai4 na3Ii3, wo3 dou1 yao4 ba3 han4zi4 xue2 hao3.

However hard it is, I will learn Chinese characters well.


5) 不管谁来借,我都不给。

bu4guan3 shui2 lai2 jie4, wo3 dou1 bu4 gei3.

Whoever comes to borrow, I will not lend.

2. Reason-Result and Cause-Effect

There are quite a few connectives showing the reason-result or cause-effect relations between the clauses in complex sentences, similar in meaning to the English “because" and "therefore". However, unlike these two English words, which do not appear in the same sentence at once, the Chinese connectives can be used either in collocation with each other or singularly, or even be completely omitted, especially in less formal speech. The most frequently used ones are as follows:


because, for the reason, therefore, so --

因为 yin1wei2...;

由于 you2yu2...;

所以 suo3yi3...;

因而 yi1er3...;

因此 yi1ci3...;


1) 因为老师生病了,所以明天我们停课。

yin1wei2 lao3shi1 sheng1 bing4 le, suo3yi3 ming2tian1 wo3men ting1 ke4.

Because the teacher is ill, our classes of tomorrow are taken off.


2) 由于长期劳累,他生病了。

you2yu2   chang2 qi1 lao2lei4, ta1 sheng1bing4 le.

As a result of long-term fatigue, he has fallen ill.


3) 因为钱不够,所以他没有买那台电脑。

yidwei2 qian2 bu2 gou4, suo3yi3 ta1 mei2you3 mai3 na4 tai2 dian4nao3.

Because of cash shortage, he didn't buy that computer.


4) 由于突然停电,他电脑里的文件丢了。

you2yu2   tu1ran2 ting2dian4, ta1 dian4nao3 li3 de wen2jian4 diu1 le.

Because of a sudden power-off, the file in his computer is lost.


5) 明天有台风,运动会因此(/因而)推迟。

ming2tian1 you3 tai2feng1, yun4dong4 hui4 yin1 ci3 (yin1 er3) tui1chi2.

There will be a typhoon, and so the sport meet will be put off.


3. Turn of Meaning

To indicate the turn of meaning in a complex sentence, Chinese also has words like the English "although" and "but". Just as in the above case, the Chinese allow the use of both such words at once in the same sentence, although they can also be omitted. The following are some examples,


a) although, even though; b) but, however

a) 虽然sui1ran2...; 尽管jin3guan3.

b) 但是dan4shi4; 可是ke3shi4…; 还是hai2shi4…; 仍然reng2ran2…; 却que4...


1) 他们兄弟两人虽然长得很像,但是性格不同。

ta1men xiong1di4 liang3ren2 sui1ran2 zhang3 de hen3 xiang4, dan4shi4 xing4ge2 bu4 tong2.

The two brothers look like one another, but they are different in character.

2) 我虽然收到了你的邮件,却(/但是)还没有时间答复。

wo3 sui1ran2 shou1dao4 le ni3 de you2jian4, que4 (dan4shi4) hai2 mei2you3 shi2jian4 da2fu.

I have received your e-mail, but haven't found time to reply.


3) 这台笔记本电脑虽然大,重量却很轻。(但是重量很轻)

zhe4 tai2 bi1ji4ben3 sui1ran2 da4, zhong4liang4 que4 hen3 qing1.

This laptop is big in size, but it's very light in weight.


4) 尽管天气不好,运动会还(是)按时开幕了。

sui1ran2 tian1qi4 bu4 hao3, yun4dong4hui4 hai2 (shi4) an4 shi2 kai1mu4 le.

In spite of the bad weather, the sports meet is held on time.


4. Furthering of Degree

a) not only... b) but also...

a) 不但bu2dan4 ...; 不仅bu4jin3; 不光(/只)bu4 guang1 (zhi3);

b) 而且er2qie3 ...; 还hai2...


1) 他不但会讲英语,而且会讲法语和日语。

ta1 bu4dan4 hui4 jiang3 ying1yu3, er2qie3 hui4 jiang3 fa3yu3 he2 ri4yu3.

He can not only speak English but also French and Japanese.


2) 他不光普通话讲得好,而且汉字也写得漂亮。

ta1 bu4guang pu3tong1hua4 jiang3 de hao3, er2qie1 han4zi4 ye3 xie3 de piao4liang.

He not only speaks Putonghua well but also writes Chinese characters beautifully.


3) 不仅要说得好听,还要做得好。

Bu4jin3 yao4 shuo1 de hao3 ting1, hai2yao4 zuo4 de hao3.

We (/you) should not only say it well but also do it well.


4) 学习语言不仅要学口语,而且要学读写。

xue2xi2 yu3yan2 bu4jin3 yao4 xue2 kou3yu3, er2qie3 yao4 xue2 du2xie3

To learn a language, one must not only learn to speak it, but also to read it.


5. Choice Selection

A. Definite Selection

better than...; rather than

与其 yu4qi2 … 不如 bu4ru2...; 宁可ning4ke3 … 也 ye3...


1) 与其在这里白白浪费时间,不如先上网查查邮件。

yu3qi2 zai4 zhe4li3 bai2bai2 lang4fei4 shi2jian1, bu4ru2 xian1 shang4wang3 cha2 cha you2jian4.

It is better to get on the internet and check emails than wasting time here for nothing.


2) 我与其饿着肚子,不如先随便吃点什么。

wo3 yu3qi2 e4 zhe du4zi, bu4ru2 xian1 sui2bian4 chi1 dian3 shen2me.

I’d rather take the liberty to have anything to eat rather than go hungry.


3) 小李宁可给我发邮件,也不愿意打电话通知我。

Xiao3li3 ning4ke3 gei3 wo3 fa1 you2jian4, ye3 bu2 yuan^i4 da3 dian4hua4 tong^hi1 wo3.

Little Li would rather send an email to me than informing me by phone.


B. Indefinite Selection ... or...; if..., (then)...




1) 或者你去找她,或者她来找你。

huo4zhe3 ni3 qu4 zhao3 ta1, huo4zhe3 ta1 lai2 zhao3 ni3.

You may go find her, or wait for her to come to find you.


2) 我或者去找工作,或者准备考研究生。

wo3 huo4zhe3 qu4 zhao3 gong1zuo4, huo4zhe3 zhun3bei4 kao3 yan2jiu1sheng1.

I will either go to find a job or prepare for tests for graduate studies.


3) 不是把老虎打死,就是被老虎吃掉。

bu2shi4 ba3 lao3hu3 da4 si3, jiu4shi4 bei4 lao3hu3 chi1 diao4.

Now if he doesn't kill the tiger, he will be eaten up by it.


4) 你是自己一个人去,还是和他们一起去?

ni3 shi4 zi4ji3 yi2ge4 ren2 qu4, hai2shi4 he2 ta1men yi4qi3 qu4?

Are you going alone or together with them?


5) 他没有来,也许生病了,也许家里有急事。

ta1 mei2you3 lai2, ye3xu3 sheng1 bing4 le, ye3xu3 jia1li3 you3 ji2shi4.

He hasn't come, perhaps for illness or some emergency at home.

6. Contrast Relation


不(是) bu2 (shi4) … 而(是) er2 (shi4)...; 不bu4 … 反而 fan3 er3 …


1) 他不是要去美国,而是要去加拿大。

ta1 bu2shi4 yao4 qu4 mei3guo2, er2 shi4 yao4 qu4 jia^aMa4.

He is not to go to the US, but to Canada.


2) 赵先生的太太不是护士,而是医生。

zhao4 xian1sheng1 de tai4tai bu2shi4 hu4shi, er2 shi4 yi1sheng1.

Mr. Zhao's wife is not a nurse, but a doctor.


3) 我们不是说空话,而是要采取行动。

wo3men bu2shi4 shuo1 kong1 hua4, er2 shi4 yao4 cai3qu3 xing2dong4.

We are not saying empty words but will take actions.


4) 小王不是不想买汽车,而是没有那么多钱。

xiao3wang2 bu2shi4 bu4 xiang3 mai3 qi4che1, er2 shi4 mei2you3 na4me duo1 qian2.

Little Wang is not unwilling to buy a car, but he doesn't have that money.


7. Juxtaposed Relation

... and...; both...; not only..., but also; well as...

既(又) ji4 (you4) … 又…;

既(不) ji4 (bu4) …又(不) you4 (bu4) …;

既是ji4shi4 … 又是 bu4shi4 …

也ye4 … 也ye4;

一边yi4bian4 … 一边yi4bian4 …;

一方面yi1fang1mian4 … 另—方面 ling4 yi1fang1mian4

有时you3shi2 … 有时 you3shi2 …;

一会儿yi1hui4er4 …一会儿 yi1hui4er4 …


1) 这个东西既好看,又实用。

zhe4 ge1 dong1xi ji4 hao3 kan4, you4 shi2 yong4.

This thing is both good-looking and utilizable.


2) 这孩子既聪明,又很喜欢读书。

zhe4 hai2zi ji4 cong1ming2, you4 hen3 xi3huan1 du2shu1.

Teacher Qian's child is clever and very fond of reading.


3) 很多女生既不喜欢地理,又不喜欢历史。

hen3duo1 nv3sheng1 ji4 bu4 xi3huan1 di4li3, you4 bu4 xi3huan1 li4shi3.

Many girl students in our class like neither geography nor history.


4) 马先生既是我的老师,又是我的好朋友。

ma3 xian1sheng ji4 shi4 wo3 de lao3shi1, you4 shi4 wo3 de hao3 peng2you3.

Mr. Ma is both my teacher and my good friend.


5) 他(也)讲西班牙语,也讲葡萄牙语。

ta1 (ye3) jiang3 xi1ban1ya2 yu3, ye4 jiang3 pu2tao2ya2 yu3.

He speaks both Spanish and Portuguese.


6) 孙博士一边听音乐,一边在网上查资料。

sun1 bo2shi4 yi1bian1 ting1 yin1yue4, yi1bian1 zai4 wang3 shang4 cha2 zi1liao4.

Dr. Sun listens to music while browsing the net for (reference) materials.


7) 吸烟一方面损害自己的健康,一方面损害别人的健康。

xi1yan1 yi4fang1mian4 sun3hai4 zi4ji3 de jian4kang1, yi1fang1mian4 sun3 hai4 bie2ren2 de jian4kang1.

Smoking harms one's own health as well as others.


8) 我周末有时开车,有时步行。

wo3 zhou1mo4 you3 shi2 kai1che1, you3shi2 bu4 xing4.

At weekends, I sometimes drive out to enjoy the landscape, and sometimes go to the library to read.


9) 小孩一会儿跑过来,一会儿跑过去。

xiao3hai2 yi1huir4 pao3 guo4lai2, yi2 huir4 pao3 guo4 qu4.

The child now run up, now run down.


8. Consecutive Sequence

at first..., then/later; ... then...

首先shou3 xian1 … 然后ran2hou4

先xian1 … 再zai4 …

刚gang1 … 就jiu4 …

一 yi1 … 就 jiu4 …

最初(/当初)zui4chu1/dang1chu1 … 后来hou4lai2 … ;

开始kai1shi3 … 后来hou4lai2 …


1) 首先我们听一听这段录音,然后口译。

shou3xian1 wo3men ting1 yi4 ting1 zhe4 duan4 lu4yin1, ran2hou4 kou3yi4.

First, we'll listen to this part of the recording, and then do interpretation based on the notes.


2) 他先把手上的东西放下,再拿钥匙开门。

ta1 xian1 ba3 shou3 shang4 de dong1xi fang4xia4, zai4 na2 yao4shi kai1men2.

He first put down the things in his hands on the floor, and then took out the key to open the door.


3) 上课铃声刚响,老师就开始考试了。

shang4ke4 ling2heng1 gang1 xiang3, lao3shil jiu4 kai1shi3 kao3shi4 le.

No sooner did the bell for the class ring than the teacher began the test.


4) 我一开电脑,就发现原来你早就给我写了邮件。

wo3 yi4 kai1 dian4nao3, jiu4 fa1xian4 yuan2 lai2 ni3 zao3 jiu4 gei3 wo3 xie3 le you2jian4.

As soon as I started the computer, I found you had already written me the email earlier.


5) 他一离开公司,就直接开车去了飞机场。

ta1 yi4 li2kai1 gong1si1, jiu4 zhi2jie1 kai1che1 qu4 le fei1ji1chang3.

He left the company and immediately drove to the airport.


6) 最初他说可以把那本书借给我,后来又说书找不见了。

zui4chu1 ta1 shuo1 ke3yi3 ba3 na4ben3shu1 jie4 gei3 wo3, hou4lai2 you4 shuo1 shu1 zhao3 bu2 jian4 le.

He first said he could lend me the book, but later said that it could not be found.

part 3

Compact Sentences

Compact Sentences

From the above section, we know the complex sentence usually has a pause between the two clauses, marked by punctuation in writing. However, it should not be understood that this pause and/or punctuation is not indispensable. And when two clauses are linked directly without pause and/ or punctuation, the complex sentence is changed into a compact one, which is in the form a simple sentence but still expresses the same meaning of the original complex sentence. Usually, compact sentences can also have some link words, directly inserted in the middle, but they may be somewhat different and simpler than those connectives in the complex sentences, which would usually be understood as adverbs when used in sentences other than compact ones.

Examples of Change from Complex Sentences into Simple Sentences

1) 如果你想说,那就说吧。

ru2guo3 ni3 xiang3shuo, na4 jiu4 shuo1 ba.


If you want to speak, just go on.


2) 这件事情不管我怎么说,也说不清。

zhe4 jian4 shi4qing bu4guan3 wo3 zen3me shuo1, ye3 shuo1 bu4 qing1.


As for this matter, I couldn't explain clearly anyway.


3) 我吃了这东西以后,还想吃。

wo3 chi le zhe4 dong1xi yi3hou4, hai2 xiang3 chi1.


After eating this stuff, I still want to have more.


4) 你的房间大,而且也很亮。

ni3 de fang2 jian1 da4, er2qie3 ye3 hen3 piao4liang.


Your office is big and bright.


5) 你无论什么时候想来的话,都可以来。

ni3 wu2lun4 shen2me shi2hou4 xiang3 lai2 de hua4, dou1 ke3yi3 lai2.


You can come whenever you want to.


6) 他常常工作到半夜然后才休息。

ta1 chang2chang gong1zuo4 dao2 ban4 ye4, ran2hou4 cai2 xiu1xi.


He often works till midnight before taking a rest.


In the above six examples, each has a word serving as the internal link between the two parts which in the complex would be considered as two clauses. These six words (就, 也, 还, 又, 都, 才) are actually most frequently used as connectives in compact sentence although in other cases they just serve as adverbs. In the following, we will provide more such examples of their uses.

part 4

Compact Sentence Connectives

Compact Sentence Connectives

The words serving the function of connections in compact sentences are usually one-character words originally serving the function of adverbs in noncompact simple sentences. The most frequently used are generally known as these six: 就, 也, 还, 又, 都 and 才. The usage of these words is illustrated in the following.


1  就 jiu4

1) 我们说干就干吧!

wo3men shuo2 gan4 jiu gan4 ba.

If we say we'll do it, then let's do it right now!


2) 你愿意卖我就愿意买。

ni3 yuan4yi4 mai3 wo3 jiu yuan4yi4 mai3.

If you will sell, I will buy.


3) 你问了他就知道了。

ni3 wen4 le ta1 jiu zhi1dao4 le.

If you had asked him, you would have known.


4) 你不说就没有人知道。

ni3 bu4 shuo1 jiu4 mei2you3 ren2 zhi1dao4.

If it is not said, it will not be known.


5) 他来我就走。

ta1 lai2 wo3 jiu4 zou3.

If he comes, I will leave.


6) 谁不听话就不给谁吃。

shui2 bu4 ting1hua4 jiu4 bu4 gei3 shui2 chi1.

If anyone doesn't listen, I will not let him (her) eat.


2. 也 ye3

1) 广东话我怎么说也说不好。

Guang3dong1hua4  wo3 zen3me shuo1 ye shuo1 bu4 hao3.

Somehow I can never speak Cantonese well.


2) 篮球我打也打不好。

lan2qiu2   wo3 da4 ye da3 bu4 hao3.

I can not play basketball well anyway.


3) 犯了错误也不要紧。

fan4 le cuo4 wu4 ye bu2 yao4jin3.

It doesn't matter if you have committed a mistake.


4) 再怎么说也不能就这样。

zai4 zen3me shuo1 ye bu4neng2 jiu4 zhe4yang4.

In whatever condition, you can not do so.


5) 她爱女儿也爰丈夫。

ta1 ai4 nv3er2 ye ai4 zhang4fu.

She loves her daughter as well as her husband.


6) 我怎么也不生气。

wo3 zen3me ye3 bu4 sheng1qi4.

I won't get angry in whatever condition.


3. 还 hai2

1) 我上完课还要做作业。

wo3 shang4 wan2 ke4 hai2 yao4 zuo4 zuo4ye4.

After the class, I have yet to do the assignment.


2) 他看了还想看。

ta1 kan4 le hai2 xiang3 kan4.

After seeing it once, he wants to see it a second time.


3) 我懂还问你?  

wo2 dong3 hai2 wen4 ni3.

If I understand, why do I ask you?


4) 你别错了还不承认。

ni3 bie2 cuo4 le hai2 bu4 cheng2ren4.

You don't please refuse to admit you are wrong.


5) 你这么晚还不睡觉?     

ni3 zhe4me wan3 hai2 bu2 shui4.

It's so late and you still don’t go to bed?


6) 你在中国还没有去过长城?

ni3 zai4 zhong1guo2 hai2 mei2you3 qu4 guo4 chang2cheng2.

You are in China and still haven't been to the Great Wall?


7) 你有钱还怕买不到?     

ni3 you3 qian2 hai2 pa4 mai3 bu2 dao4.

You have the money and still, fear you can't get it?


4. 又 you4

1) 她既大方又漂亮。

ta1 ji4 da4fang1 you4 piao4liang.

She is as liberate as she is pretty.


2) 这东西又贵又不实用。

zhe4 dong1xi you4 gui4 you4 bu4 shi2yong4.

This thing is expensive and not of practical use.


3) 我们老师又讲汉语又讲英语。

wo3men2 Iao3shi1 you4 jiang3 han4yu3 you4 jiang3 ying1yu3.

Our teacher speaks Chinese as well as English.


4) 她丈夫刚出门又回来了。

ta1 zhang4fu gang1 chu1men2 you4 hui2lai le.

No sooner did her husband go out than returned.


5) 现在他又没钱又没工作。

xian4zai4 ta1 you4 mei2 qian2 you4 mei2 gong1zuo4.

Now he has neither money nor job.


6) 他们在一起又说又笑。

ta1men zai4 yi4qi3 you4 shuo1 you4 xiao4.

They talk and laugh while together.


5. 都 dou1

1) 重要不重要都要做好。

zhong4yao4 bu2 zhong4yao4 dou1 yao4 zuo4 hao3.

Important or not, it should be done well.


2) 是遗憾是后悔都过去了。

shi4  yi2han4 shi4 hou4hui3 dou1 guo4qu le.

A sorrow or regret, it's over after all.


3) 你走都走不动,还想跑步?  

ni3 zou3 dou1 zou3 bu2 dong4, hai2 xiang3 pao3pu4.

You could not even walk, and you still want to run?


4) 我现在忙都忙不过来。

wo3 xian4zai4 mang2 dou1 mang2 bu4 guo4lai2.

Now I am so busy and have no way out.


5) 做都做了,后悔也没有用。

zuo4 dou1 zuo4 le, hou4hui3 ye3 mei2you3 yong4.

It's done after all, and regret can't help change it.


6) 怎么说他都不过分。

zen3me shuo1 ta1 dou1 bu2 guo4fen4.

Whatever you (/we) say about him is not too much


7) 这样卖给谁谁都觉得便宜。

zhe4yang4 mai4 gei3 shui2 shui2 dou1 jue2de pian2yi4

Selling it at such a price to anyone will make him think it's cheap.


6. 才 cai2

1) 勤奋工作才能有成就。

qin2fen4  gong1zuo4 cai2 neng2 you3 cheng2jiu4.

Only through diligence can you (/we/one) make achievements.


2) 听懂了才能翻译。

ting1 dong3 le cai2 neng2 fan1yi4.

Only after understanding can you (/we/one) interpret.


3) 有钱才能买。

you3qian2 cai2neng2 mai3.

You can only buy (it) when you have money.


4) 有灵感才能写出好诗。

you3 ling2gan3 cai2 neng2 xie3 chu1 hao3 shi1.

Only with inspiration can you work out good poems.


5) 坐飞机才能及时赶到。

zou4 fei1ji1 cai2 neng2 ji2shi2 gan3dao4.

Only by air can you (we/one) arrive in time.


6) 我们收到银行确认才能发货。

wo3men2 shou1dao4 yin2hang2 que4ren4 cai2 neng2 fa1huo4.

We can deliver the goods only on receiving the bank's confirmation.


7) 我看了半天才看懂。

wo3 kan4 le ban4tian1 cai2 kan4 dong3.

I read (looked at) it for quite a while before figuring out the meaning.


Special Notes: In fact, the line between the compact sentences and simple ones are not always easy to draw. There are certainly overlaps between the two that still give rise to debates among Chinese grammarians.

part 5

Omission of Connectives in Compact Sentences

Omission of Connectives in Compact Sentences

In spite of the importance of connectives in compact sentences, they can be omitted, more often in informal style but also in cases that are common to both the formal and informal language. This may make the comprehension of the exact meaning more dependent on the particular context.

Following are some examples.

1) 你不说(就)没人知道。

ni3 bu4 shuo1 mei2 ren2 zhi1dao4.

No one will know if you don't tell.


2) 他来我(就)走。

ta1 lai2 wo2 (jiu4) zou3.

If he comes, I will leave.


3) 犯了错误(也)不要紧。

fan4 le cuo4wu4 (ye3) bu4 yao4 jin4.

It doesn't matter if you (/anyone) has made a mistake.


4) 我们死(也)不投降。

wo3men si3 (ye3) bu4 tou2xiang2.

We would rather die than surrender.


5) 你不要没事(还)找事。

ni3 bu2yao4 mei2shi4 (hai2) zhao3shi4.

Don't you look for (/make) trouble for nothing?


6) 下雨(就)不上班。

xia4yu3 (jiu4) bu4 shang1ban1.

If it rains, we (/you) don't work.


7) 铃响(后/就)上课。

ling2 xiang3 (hou4/jiu4) shang4ke4.

The class will begin when the bell rings.