5 essential Chinese sentence patterns

Over the last few weeks we have been looking at what words are useful for reading Chinese news about technology and also hacking. We got some great feedback about these posts and will be continuing that series, though in addition to that we also want to focus on important sentence patterns. As learning a language is not all about keywords, but also about the sentence structures that contain them.

Here are 5 sentence patterns that are essential for reading Chinese, and once you’ve learnt them you’ll find that they are frequently used in Chinese texts. (note: if you’ve been learning Chinese for a while you may have already come across these, but hang in there we will look at more advanced sentences in the future). As always these are real-world examples taken from actual news stories.

由於… 因此… (由于… 因此…)

Pinyin: yóu yú… yīn cǐ …

English: due to… therefore…

Example:

雖然GDP數據並不樂觀,但由於這一結果已在預期之內,因此16日的東京證券市場未有較大反應

虽然GDP数据并不乐观,但由于这一结果已在预期之内,因此16日的东京证券市场未有较大反应

suī rán GDP shù jù bìng bú lè guān, dàn yóu yú zhè yī jié guǒ yǐ zài yù qí zhī nèi, yīn cǐ 16 rì de dōng jīng zhèng quàn shì chǎng wèi yǒu jiào dà fǎn yìng

Although the GDP figures aren’t optimistic, but due to this outcome being within expectations, therefore on the 16th the Japanese market didn’t have a bigger reaction

即使… 也…(即使… 也…)

Pinyin: jí shǐ … yě …

English: even though… still…

Example:

北約即使擴大,不是俄羅斯的敵人﹔波蘭不是俄羅斯的敵人,美國也不是。

北约即使扩大,不是俄罗斯的敌人;波兰不是俄罗斯的敌人,美国也不是。

běi yuē jí shǐ kuò dà, yě bú shì è luó sī de dí rén pō lán bú shì è luó sī de dí rén, měi guó yě bú shì.

Even though NATO is expanding, it’s still not an enemy of Russia, Poland isn’t an enemy of Russia, neither is the USA.

不但… 也…

Pinyin: bú dàn … yě …

English: not only… but also…

Example:

這個七人犯罪集團所涉案件相當雜,不但吸毒,涉及擊破車窗竊案

这个七人犯罪集团所涉案件相当杂,不但吸毒,涉及击破车窗窃案

zhè gè qī rén fàn zuì jí tuán suǒ shè àn jiàn xiāng dāng zá, bú dàn xī dú, yě shè jí jí pò chē chuāng qiè àn

This seven-person criminal gang’s activities are very complex, not only did they take drugs, but were also involved in smash-and-grab crimes from cars

雖然… 但是… (虽然… 但是…)

Pinyin: suī rán … dàn shì …

English: even though… still…

Example:

有的政府部門根本不知道有這樣的法令存在,有的雖然知道,但是所提供的雙語服務根本達不到要求

有的政府部门根本不知道有这样的法令存在,有的虽然知道,但是所提供的双语服务根本达不到要求

yǒu de zhèng fŭ bù mén gēn běn bú zhī dào yǒu zhè yàng de  fǎ lìng cún zài, yǒu de suī rán zhī dào, dàn shì suǒ tí gōng de shuāng yŭ fú wù gēn běn dá bú dào yào qiú

some government departments have no idea this law even exists, while others even though they know, but still provide a dual-language service that doesn’t meet requirements

除非… 否則…(除非… 否则…)

Pinyin: chú fēi … fǒu zé …

English: unless… otherwise…

Example:

除非修法,否則這種問題永遠無法解決

除非修法,否则这种问题永远无法解决

chú fēi xiū fǎ, fǒu zé zhè zhǒng wèn tí yǒng yuǎn wú fǎ jiě jué

unless the law is altered, otherwise this kind of problem will never be resolved

There are many more useful sentence patterns than these five, so look out for more posts in the future like this. If you know of any other sentence patterns that you want to study or like to use then post in the comments below!

6 responses to “5 essential Chinese sentence patterns

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  2. Thanks for this useful post! My problem is that even I can use this kind of patterns when I write, I don’t know how to use them when I speak. Does Chinese people use lots of sentence patterns while speaking the common language? How to get these patterns part of my speaking?

    1. Hi Sara, though the complete use of sentence patterns are more common in news/writing and formal speaking, but these patterns are in common use in informal speech too. What you might find is that part of the pattern is omitted or is said in a different way.
      When you are listening to people speak Chinese listen out for some of the key parts I’m sure you’ll here them used a lot.
      Dave

  3. “though the complete use of sentence patterns are more common in news/writing and formal speaking, but these patterns are in common use in informal speech too.”

    though….,but

    Dude, that’s a Chinese sentence. What gives?

  4. Great post! Short and up to the point! Just an idea – could we have some exercises to practise those?

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