Chapter 16: Chinese conjunctions

Updated:Sat, Oct 20, 2012 05:58 AM     Related:Chinese Conjunctions

Mandarin Chinese conjunctions include the following: 1, Conjunctions that indicate an ‘additive’ or ‘and’ relationship including 和, 跟, 同, 与; 2, Conjunctions that indicate a disjunctive or ‘or’ relationship including 还是, 或者.


Conjunctions are words that join phrases belonging to the same grammatical category and indicate a relationship between them. Mandarin conjunctions include the following.

1. Conjunctions that indicate an ‘additive’ or ‘and’ relationship

1.1 和 hé

王明和李安是大学生。 Wang Ming and Li An are college students.

1.2 跟gēn

北京跟上海都是很值得去看的地方。 Beijing and Shanghai are both places worth seeing.

跟 also functions as a preposition.

1.3 同 tóng

我同他的关系很不错。 The relationship between him and me is not bad (really good).

1.4 与 yǔ

我们对中国的文化与历史都很有兴趣。 We are really interested in Chinese culture and history.


同 tóng is used in southern China and is not common in the north. 与 yù is used in literary phrases.

2. Conjunctions that indicate a disjunctive or ‘or’ relationship

2.1 还是 háishi ‘or’

还是háishi is used in questions that ask the addressee to choose between two alternatives, only one of which can be true or possible. It conveys the sense of ‘either . . . or’.

Q:你是来旅游的还是来学习的? Did you come for vacation or to study?

A: 我是来学习的。I came to study.

Q: 你要喝红茶还是喝花茶。Do you want to drink black tea (In Chinese: red tea or jasmine tea?)

A: 我要喝红茶。I want to drink black tea. or jasmine tea?

还是 háishi is sometimes included in an answer to a 还是háishi question to mark the preferred alternative. In this usage, 还是 háishi functions as an adverb and not as a conjunction.

Q:你想这个问题,是现在讨论好还是以后再讨论好? (As for) this question, do you think we should we should talk about it now or later?

A: 我想还是以后再讨论好。I think we should talk about it later.

2.2 或者 huòzhě ‘or’

或者 huòzhě ‘or’ is used in statements to present two alternatives, both of which are possible.

Q:你要今天去长城还是明天去长城?Do you want to go to the Great Wall today or tomorrow?

A: 今天去或者明天去都行。Today and tomorrow are both okay.

Mandarin conjunctions are much more restricted than English conjunctions in the grammatical categories that they join. In Mandarin, the ‘and’ conjunctions only join noun phrases. The ‘or’ conjunctions only join verb phrases.

Most Mandarin connecting words are adverbs. They are presented in the relevant chapters on sentence connection.




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