Sentence patterns in Chinese
Are patterns part of grammar, or are they just… Sentence structures? Maybe the distinction doesn’t matter, but it’s good to look at Chinese patterns, the stuff that kinda keeps it all together. With great sentence patterns your paragraphs, whether written or spoken, will become more flowing and fluent.
And it’s not just us saying that. For all the cringe we get when someone calls himself a polyglot… Steve Kaufman had some terrific advice in a Medium post:
“Don’t get caught up in complicated grammar explanations, just focus on patterns. Write them out, say them to yourself, use them when speaking, and watch for them when you listen and read.”
This is also what our Spoken Chinese language courses focus on, gaining new vocabulary as well as new sentence patterns. Our Chinese teachers will invite students to make sentences with their newly learned sentence patterns.
So for this, we gathered more than thirty of the most Chinese sentence patterns, from elementary to intermediate and advanced Chinese.
Elementary Chinese sentence patterns
1. More and more (越来越…)
Few sentence patterns are more synonymous to HSK3 than this one (maybe apart from the following one). Use this sentence pattern to say “more and more”.
- Nǐ yuèláiyuè cōngming!
- You are getting more and more smart!
You can also use it for two connected concepts:
- Nǐ chī de yuè jiànkāng, nǐ de shēntǐ yuè hǎo.
- The healthier you eat, the better your body will be.
2. Not even a little bit (“一点儿 都/也 不/没”)
You can use this to emphasize you don’t like or have something. Not even a little bit.
- Wǒ yīdiǎnr yě bù è
- I’m not even a little bit hungry
- 富裕的烦恼？ 我一点儿也没有
- Fùyù de fánnǎo? Wǒ yīdiǎnr yě méiyǒu
- Wealth troubles? I don’t even have a little bit of them
This works with both 不 and 没.
Or use it with 都:
- Jīntiān yǔ tài dà le, wǒ yīdiǎnr dōu bùxiǎng chūqu
- It’s raining so much today that I don’t want to go out at all
3. From….. far/near (离……远／近)
Describe the distance with this Chinese sentence pattern. You can use adverbs such as 远yuǎn (far), 近jìn (near), or negate them, most commonly with 不远bù yuǎn (not far)
- Wǒ de bàngōngshì lí wǒ de jiā bù yuǎn
- My office is not far from my home
- Qù chāoshì? Lí wǒ zhèlǐ tài yuǎn le
- Go to the supermarket? Too far from me
- Wǒ de xīn gōngyù tài bàngle, lí dìtiě zhàn hěn jìn
- My new apartment is amazing, close to the subway station
4. This and this (又… 又…)
This is most commonly used for positive or negative adjectives. The key thing is that both two words shouldn’t contrast in feeling. It is important to note they must both be bad or both be good. Many people think 又。。。又。。。can only be use for positive adjectives, but this is also correct:
- Zhèlǐ de kāfēi yòu guì yòu nánhē.
- This coffee is expensive and has a bad taste.
- Shànghǎi de dōngtiān yòu lěng yòu cháo.
- Winter in Shanghai is cold and humid.
So if you want to compliment something, link the two adjectives together with two 又’s. 又Yòu here means “both” or “as well/and”.
- Zhège míngxīng yòu yǒuhǎo yòu piàoliang
- The star is friendly and beautiful
5. Because, therefore (因为… 所以…)
(You can also use 由于 instead of 因为.) Express results with these kinds of sentences. If you want to say “Because I left home too late, the bus has already left”, use the “因为… 所以…Yīnwèi… Suǒyǐ…” structure:
- Yīnwèi wǒ líkāi jiā tài wǎnle, suǒyǐ bāshì yǐjīng chūfāle
Think of 所以 as ‘therefore’, not as ‘so’. A common mistake from foreigners is to use 所以 as ‘so’, but you cannot use it like that. Do not randomly start sentences with 所以.
For example, in English it’s very common to say:
- So I was thinking….how about we buy a car?
- So what’s up?
You cannot use 所以 here. There are no two sentences to connect to each other.
6. Simultaniously (一边… 一边 …)
Do not translate this to “at the same time”, as in “I send the email and at the same time she left the company.”
This Chinese pattern structure should be use for two actions that are happening simultaniously by the same person.
- Yībiān chīfàn, yībiān kàn diànshì
- Eat dinner while at the same time watching TV
You can also string three or more together:
- Tā shì yī gè rén cái, yībiān dǎ diànhuà, yībiān pǎobù, yībiān xiǎng chūlái xīn de zhǔyi
- She’s a talent, calling, running, and coming up with new ideas
Again, only use this for someone literally doing two things at the same time. You cannot use it for something like “I knocked the door and at the same time my mom called me.” For this use 同时Tóngshí (at the same time):
- Wǒ qiāole qiāo mén, tóngshí wǒ mā dǎ diànhuà gěi wǒ
7. 是……的(de) to emphasise
See the difference in these two ways to say “I came by car”:
- Wǒ kāichē lái le
You’ll find that most Chinese people will say:
- Wǒ shì kāichē lái de
In most cases, you can omit 是shì from the sentence.
8. Very…” (挺 ＋ adjective ＋ 的)
- Wǒ tǐng xǐhuan zhèyàng de yīnyuè
- I like this kind of music a lot
This is a super common (挺普通Tǐng pǔtōng) sentence pattern in spoken Chinese, even to the point that it makes up for the whole sentence or answer:
- wǒ tǐng hǎo de
- I’m great
- tǐng hǎo chī de
- jīntiān tǐng lěng
- It’s cold today
- tǐng qīng de
- quite light
Actually, you’ll find that 挺 works just like 很 or other modifiers, such as 超级.
9. “X 比 Y” to compare
The sentence structure for this is A 比 B <adjective>, so A is <adjective> more than B, for instance:
Tā bǐ wǒ gāo
She is taller than me
You can also use it in more complex sentences:
Shànghǎi de rénkǒu bǐ Hélán quánguó hái duō
Shanghai has more people than the whole of the Netherlands
You can only use adjectives at the end of the sentence, and place the thing you’re comparing on both sides of the 比, or in the first. So to say “Her character is more patient than mine”, do not say:
- Tā bǐ wǒ dì xìnggé yǒu nàixīn
- Tā dì xìnggé bǐ wǒ yǒu nàixīn
10. “Y 没有 X” to compare
The reverse also works. If you want to say she is not taller than me, yeah, you could say:
- Tā bǐ wǒ ǎi
- She is shorter than me
But sometimes you want to say she is NOT taller than me. Don’t say “她不比我高” or anything. Use:
- Tā méiyǒu wǒ gāo
- He is not taller than me
11. To say whatever you want’ (verb 什么, 就 verb 什么）
“什么” can mean “what?” but it can also mean “anything”. If you ask a Chinese person “What’s up?”, they sometimes answer:
That is used in this Chinese sentence pattern. If you’re on a date and your date asks where to eat, you can answer:
- Nǐ xiǎng chī shénme, wǒmen jiù chī shénme
- We will eat what you want
The first 什么 here means “anything (you want)”, the second 什么 would refer to that “anything”.
- Wǒ yīdìng yào chénggōng. Wǒ xūyào zuò shénme, wǒ jiù huì zuò shénme!
- I have to succeed. What do I need to do, what I will do!
This is one of many Chinese language sentence patterns that uses 就jiù. If you want to refresh how to use 就jiù click here.
12. Whoever does this, also does that (谁…, (就)谁…)
Very similar to the above one is “谁…, 谁就… shéi…, shéi jiù…”. Like 什么, 谁 is used as a question “Who?”, but by repeating it with 谁就…, the second part refers to whoever is that person in the first case. You can drop the 就jiù if you feel like it!
Sounds complicated? Like this:
- Shéi chídào, shéi mǎi píjiǔ
- Who is late, who buys beer
Or if you’re promoting proper gender roles in a household:
- Shéi yǒu shíjiān, shéi xǐ pánzi
- Whoever has time washes the dishes
13. Only if… Then (只有…, 才…)
Use this pattern “只有… 才… zhǐyǒu… cái…(only if…then…)” to make clear, only if you do the first part of the sentence, you can get the last part:
- Zhǐyǒu nǐ bàmā yǒu qián, nǐ cái néng mǎi Shànghǎi de fángzi
- Only if your parents have money can you buy a house in Shanghai
有 can also be replaced with 要. A child will endlessly hear this from her or his parents:
- Zhǐyǒu nǐ nǔlì xuéxí, nǐ cái néng chénggōng
- Only if you learn hard, can you succeed
14. With me the same (X 跟/像 Y 一样)
In Chinese, usually you don’t literally say “he looks like his mom”, but rather “he and his mom look very similar”:
- Tā zhǎng de gēn tā de māma hěn xiàng
- He looks like his mother
- Wǒ gēn nǐ yīyàng, wǒ yě bù xǐhuan chī kǔguā
- Like you, I don’t like bitter gourd either.
A slightly different phrasing uses “像…一样”:
- Tā xiàng yī zhǐ lǎohǔ yīyàng shēngqì
- She’s as angry as a tiger
15. Something will happen fast (…快要 + Verb / Adj. + 了)
To describe something is about to happen, fast:
- Tiānqì nàme hēi, hǎoxiàng kuàiyào xià yǔle
- The weather is so dark, it looks like it’s going to rain soon
Or when watching two people:
- Nǐ kàn tāmen liǎ hào shēngqì, kuàiyào dǎjià le
- Look at those two, they’re so angry, they’re about to fight
It is sometimes also OK without 要:
- Gěi wǒ chōngdiàn xiàn a, wǒ diànnǎo kuài méi diànle
- Give me the charging cable, my computer is running out of power
16. If, then (如果…, 就)
Like many Chinese sentence patterns in this article, “如果，就Rúguǒ, jiù” is a pattern that revolves around “if this criteria is met, then this”:
- Rúguǒ míngtiān xià yǔ, wǒmen jiù bù qù gōngyuán
- If it rains tomorrow, then we don’t have to go to the park
- Rúguǒ nǐ jīnwǎn hái méi zuò wán nǐ de zuòyè, jiù bùyòng dài nǐ qù díshìníle
- If you still haven’t finished your homework tonight, then no need to take you to Disneyland
17. From this time on…. (从…起/开始)
Ever had like a new plan to lose weight and you told yourself “From tomorrow on, I’m going to run every day!”, or “From tomorrow on, I’m going to stop smoking!”. Well, in Chinese you can use this pattern for that:
- Cóng míngtiān qǐ, wǒ yào měitiān pǎobù
You can replace 起 can be replaced by 开始Kāishǐ (start) and it’s basically the same (more spoken language):
- Cóng míngtiān kāishǐ, wǒ yào jièyān le
18. As soon as, then (一…, 就…)
“一Yī” doesn’t just mean “one”. For instance, in the word ”一开始“ at the beginning, “一” means “since/just/once/as soon as I started”.
This meaning is used in ” 一 … 就… yī … jiù…”. You can use this like:
- Yī tīng dào tā de míngzì nǐ jiù fā píqì
- You lose your temper when you hear his name
- Wǒ yī kàn tā, jiù zhīdào tā shì zěnme yàng de rén
- When I saw him, I knew what kind of person he was
Don’t use this for “as soon as you arrive home, we’ll eat”, for this use the Chinese sentence pattern of what? And why not? Or can you say 你一到家我们就吃饭？
19. Not only, also (不但…而且…)
不但bùdàn means “not only” and 而且érqiě means “also”, so even if we in English don’t often say “Not only this…. Also that”, it’s a very common sentence in Mandarin Chinese language.
- Subj. + 不但 ⋯⋯ ，而且 ⋯⋯
Or if you want to negate something:
- 不但 + Subj. 1 ⋯⋯ ，而且 + Subj. 2 + 也 ⋯⋯
Imagine someone asks you, “what’s his husband like?” you can say:
- Bùdàn hěn shuài, érqiě hěn rèqíng
- Not only handsome, but also very enthusiastic
Or why you don’t want to go to someone’s birthday:
- Wǒ bùdàn bù tài xǐhuān tā. Érqiě míng wǎn méiyǒu shíjiān.
- Not only I don’t like him very much, but I don’t have time tomorrow night
Generally, the most important reason should be placed last, least important reason first.
20. If it’s not X, then it’s Y (不是…就是…)
This sentence pattern as well as the next is used to choose between two choices. Even if they look similar, they have totally different meanings.
In 不是… 就是… (bùshì…，jiùshì…) means both options are possible. If it’s not X, well then it’s Y. But in 不是… 而是… (bùshì…, érshì…) the speaker rejects the first but supports the second.
Let’s look at the first one first:
- Wǒ bù zhīdào Matthias shì nǎlǐ de rén, bùshì Hélán rén, jiùshì Déguó rén.
- I don’t know where Matthias is from, either Dutch or German.
So both options are possible!
21. It’s not, but rather (不是…而是…)
Careful! 不是。。。而是 has a totally different meaning than the sentence pattern before, even if they look similar.
In this sentence, the speaker supports one option but rejects the other:
- Matthias bùshì Hélán rén, érshì Déguó rén.
- Matthias is not Dutch, but German.
Don’t get these two patterns mixed up! The keyword is 而是ér shì which means “rather”.
22. So…. that even… (连…都…)
连… 都… lián… dōu… is another super common part of spoken language in Chinese. If you’re so X that you don’t have Y.
- Wǒ tài lèi le, lián shuāyá de lìqì dōu méiyǒu
- I’m so tired, I don’t even have the strength to brush
- Tā nàme bèn, lián jì xiédàixié dōu bù huì
- He’s so stupid that he can’t even tie his shoelaces
23. The “把” sentence pattern
Oh, the (in)famous “把” and the millions of learners that ran into trouble with them, and the millions of learners that have conquered it as well. It goes like:
- Wǒ bǎ píngzi fàng zài bīngxiāng lǐ
- I put the bottle in the refrigerator
But this part of Chinese sentences is notoriously hard because no equivalent exists in English, or most other languages. We have a whole article about how to use ‘How to use 把bǎ in Chinese‘.
24. First, secondly, finally (首先，其次，最后)
This is great for a summary, like ending a meeting with:
- 首先我们决定种更多的花。 其次，我们将停止砍伐更多的树木。最后，我们将做一个标志，让人们尊重自然
- Shǒuxiān wǒmen juédìng zhǒng gèng duō de huā. Qícì, wǒmen jiāng tíngzhǐ kǎnfá gèng duō de shùmù. Zuìhòu, wǒmen jiāng zuò yīgè biāozhì, ràng rénmen zūnzhòng zìrán
- First, we decided to plant more flowers. Secondly, we’ll stop cutting more trees. and at least we will make a sign so that people respect nature
Take a good look because you’ll find this pattern again and again.
25. “From X’s perspective ” (对。。。来说）
This is a very common Chinese language pattern used to express feelings or opinions from your own or other people’s perspective. You can use it for yourself:
Duì wǒ lái shuō, zhè jiàn shì bùshì yī gè wèntí.
From my perspective, this is not a problem.
But you can also explain the perspective of others, or a group of people:
- Xiàozhǎng xiǎng zēngjiā gōngzuò liàng, kěyǐ duì lǎoshīmen lái shuō, tāmen de gōngzuò yǐjīng hěnduōle, bù yìng gāi zài zēngjiāle
- The principal wants to increase the workload, but for the teachers, their work is already a lot and should not be increased any more
The same situation for two people individually:
- Xiàozhǎng xiǎng zēngjiā gōngzuò liàng, duì xiǎo lǐ lái shuō, tā juédé méi wèntí. Duì xiǎo wáng lái shuō, tā juédé gōngzuò tài duōle
- The principal wants to increase the workload. For Xiao Li, he thinks it is no problem. For Xiao Wang, he felt it was too much work.
Intermediate Chinese sentence patterns
26. Because, therefore (由于… 因此…)
This one is very similar to “因为。。。所以，。。。“ but more formal way to explain cause and effect. 由于 indicates the reason, while what comes after 因此 shows the result:
- Yóuyú wǒmen de yèwù zuò dé hěn hǎo, yīncǐ wǒmen zhèngzài zhāopìn gèng duō de rén
- Because our business is doing so well, we are hiring more people
27. Not as good as (不如)
This can be confusing to some English speakers. Which one is better? Which one is worse? With 不如, it means the word before 不如 is not as good as what comes after:
- KFC bùrú Màidāngláo
- KFC is not as good as McDonald’s
You can also add adjectives to it:
- Jīntiān bùrú zuótiān nuǎnhuo
- Today is not as warm as yesterday
- Nà jiā gōngsī de shōurù bùrú wǒ xiànzài de wěndìng
- That company’s income isn’t as stable as mine is now
You can make this more complex with “与其… 不如… yǔqí… bùrú…” (rather than…, it’s better…):
- Yǔqí tiāntiān jiābān, bùrú huàn gōngzuò ba
- Instead of working overtime every day, it’s better to change jobs
28. No matter … (无论/不管…多么/都/也+adj + Verb )
If you love someone, tell her or him:
- Wúlùn rúhé wǒ ài nǐ
- I love you no matter what
“无论如何” is a fixed phrase (in any case), but 无论 , together with 不管bùguǎn is part of a Chinese sentence pattern: 无论/不管… 都/也… wúlùn/ bùguǎn… dōu/ yě… no matter… , (result)…
- Wúlùn nǐ zhǎng dé duōme chǒu, wǒ yě ài nǐ
- I love you no matter how ugly you are
- Bùguǎn zhè fú huà yǒu duō guì, wǒ dōu yào mǎi
- No matter how expensive this painting is, I will buy it
都 here doesn’t refer to plural but it’s an emphasis.
29. Because, this (既然 Y, 就/也/那 X)
既然… 就/也/那… jìrán… jiù/ yě/ nà… is another beautiful way of stringing two parts of sentences together, and means “since/because… then… “.
This isn’t really used to express results. If you want to say “Because I waited too long, the bus has already left”, use the “因为… 所以…Yīnwèi… Suǒyǐ…” structure as described above:
- Yīnwèi wǒ líkāi jiā tài wǎnle, suǒyǐ bāshì yǐjīng chūfāle
This pattern is different though, it’s meant more for suggestions. See the difference:
- Jìrán nǐ zhēn de ài tā, nà nǐ jiù yīnggāi zuò fēijī chē qù kàn tā
- Because you really love him, you should take the plane to see him
You could also use 因为… 所以… in this case but 既然, 就 is so much more elegant here. But you shouldn’t use 既然 in the first example.
就，也，那 are all three of the same meaning. You can use each of them, or even 那就. You can also follow the second part up with a rhetorical question, such as:
- Nǐ jìrán wèi zhège jīhuì nǔlìle, wèishéme túrán fàngqì?
- You’ve worked so hard for this opportunity, why suddenly give up?
30. Up, till (到… 为止)
The “Up… till…” pattern (到…为止 dào… wéizhǐ) is mostly used to describe “up until now” or “until here”:
- Nǐ shuō le zhème duō, dào xiànzài wéizhǐ, wǒ háishì bù zhīdào fāshēng le shénme shì
- You talk so much but up until now, I still have no idea what has happened
But it can also be used like:
- Dào tā fāxíng tā de dì wǔ shǒu gē wéizhǐ, méiyǒu rén tīng shuōguò tā.
- Until he released his fifth song, nobody had ever heard of him.
You can also it at the end of a sentence using ‘此cǐ’ as location, meaning ‘here’:
- Rúguǒ méiyǒu zuì jīběn de jìshù, néngliàng zhǐ néng dào cǐ wéizhǐ.
- Without the most basic technology, energy can only go so far.
31. Not only, also (不仅…还…)
- 不仅…还… bùjǐn… hái… is very common in spoken Mandarin Chinese!
- Jīntiān shàngwǔ, wǒ bùjǐn gěi jiālǐ de xiǎo māo wèishí, Hái gěi tā xǐle gè zǎo
This morning, not only did I feed the kitten at home, I also gave it a bath.
- Wǒ bùjǐn yào jiēshòu tā bùduàn de bàoyuàn, hái yào zuò zài tā shēnshang yǒu yān wèi de yīfú pángbiān!
- I not only have to accept her constant complaining, I also need to sit next to her clothes that smell like tobacco!
32. Instead / on the contrary (反过来/反而)
This one is a bit tricky. Use this in the middle of a sentence to link two parts together. It can be used to repeat a sentence but using different words, such as:
- Bù xuéxí jiù bù huì chénggōng, fǎnguolai shuō, zhǐyào xuéxí jiù huì chénggōng
- If you don’t study, you will not succeed. Instead, if you study, you will succeed.
But you can also use it like this, just how you’d use “on the contrary” in English:
- Kuàidì xiǎo gē chídàole, fánguolai hái guàiwǒ，shuō wǒ xiě de dìzhǐ búduì
- The courier guy was late, but instead blamed me, saying that I wrote the wrong address
You can also use “反过来说/做Fǎn guòlái shuō/zuò”, or 反之Fǎnzhī:
- Chī le tā di yào, tā méi hǎo. Fǎnzhī, méi chī tā di yào, tā què hǎo le.
- He took his medicine and was still not well. On the other hand, he was fine without taking his medicine.
33. Even if, still (即使…, 也/还是… )
即使…, 也/还是… jíshǐ…, yě/háishì… is used to make sentences like “even if…, still…”. Example:
- Jíshǐ wǒ méiyǒu shíjiān, jíshǐ xià yǔ, jíshǐ wǒ bùxiǎng, jíshǐ wǒ gǎndào píjuàn, wǒ réngrán xūyào xùnliàn lái wánchéng wǒ de mùbiāo, chéngwéi shìjiè shàng pǎo dé zuì kuài de rén.
- Even if I have no time, even if it rains, even if I don’t want to, even if I feel tired, I still need to train to accomplish my goal to become the fastest runner in the world.
Sometimes you can also use 还是 instead of 也, such as:
- Jíshǐ nǐmen bù tóngyì, wǒ háishì yāo mǎi zhè liàng qìchē
- Even if you don’t agree, I’m still going to buy that car.
It’s similar to 不管/无论… 都/也 but you can compare the two like in English:
- Even if…still (即使…, 也/还是…)
- No matter, also (不管/无论… 都/也)
34. Unless X, otherwise Y (除非…要不然…)
Don’t try to remember this as “Unless X, otherwise Y” as in English, or you may mix it up with 不是…就是, like how you would say:
- Wǒ bù zhīdào Matthias shì nǎlǐ de rén, bùshì hélán rén, jiùshì déguó rén.
- I don’t know where Matthias is from, either Dutch or German.
除非…, (要)不然… chúfēi…, (yào) bùrán… is more a warning:
- Chúfēi nǐ bāng Matthias bānjiā, yào bùrán tā xià cì yě bùyào bāng nǐ
- Unless you help Matthias move, he won’t help you next time
35. First/ wait until, then (先/等…，再…）
Someone’s a bit too eager? Reply using the ‘first…, then…’ Chinese sentence pattern:
- Aya nǐ bié jí, xiān zhuànqián, zài kǎolǜ mǎi fángzi ba
- Ah, don’t worry, make money first, then consider buying a house
It also works with 等…,再…děng…, zài… (wait until…, then…):
- 去哪儿吃晚饭？ 等我下班再说吧
- Qù nǎ’er chī wǎnfàn? Děng wǒ xiàbān zàishuō ba
- Where to go for dinner? Wait for me to get off work, then let’s discuss it
36. Together with (随着 X…, Y)
Sometimes it’s put at the start of a sentence:
- Suízhe yīgè guójiā de fǎzhǎn, yuèláiyuè duō de rén xiǎng yào xuéxí wàiyǔ
- Together with the development of a country, more and more people will want to learn foreign languages
But it can also be in the middle:
- 树叶随着秋天到了, 变黄了
- Shùyè suízhe qiūtiān dào le , biàn huáng le
- The leaves turn yellow as autumn arrives
37. Under the X of Y
Use the “在。。。的（verb）下，。。。“ structure to explain how a situation has changed because of X. See how to use this Chinese sentence pattern:
- Under the influence of the epidemic, many travel companies have gone bankrupt
- Zài yìqíng de yǐngxiǎng xià, hěnduō lǚyóu de gōngsī dōu pòchǎnle
- Zài tā de bāngzhù xià, wǒ zǒuchū le dīgǔ
- With his help, I got out of the slump
Advanced Chinese sentence patterns
38. “For … become/as” (为。。。于。。。)
We have a whole article about the 为…所… (Wéi…suǒ…) phrase pattern. 所 is tricky because it doesn’t really translate into anything. It’s a passive sentence, similar to “被……（所）……”, but with three tiny differences (see the article).
- Jíshǐ bu néng wéi tārén suǒ lǐjiě, wǒ háishì huì jiānchí zìjǐ de xuǎnzé
- Even if I cannot be understood by others, I will stick to my choice
39. “How about” (要不。。。吧）
This Chinese HSK5 sentence pattern states the reason or situation, followed by 要不 and a suggestion, ending with 吧. For example:
- Aya, jīntiān de shìchǎng guānmén le, yào bù wǒmen diǎn wàimài ba.
- Oops, the market is closed today, why don’t we order takeout.
40. If not for X, Y (要不是/如果不是(的话)。。。, 。。。)
This isn’t similar to the above one, simply with a 是 added. 要不是 means “if not for” X, then Y. There’s no need for 就 in the middle. This is used to express a result that did not happen. It also translates into “If it wasn’t for the fact for X… then Y”:
- Wǒ mò dài yǔsǎn, yào bùshì jīntiān méi xià yǔ, wǒ jiù lín shīle
- I didn’t bring an umbrella, if it hadn’t been for the fact it rained today, I’d have gotten wet
- yào bùshì wǒ mò dài qián, wǒ jiù yāomǎi zhè jiàn yīfúle
- If I hadn’t been for the fact I didn’t bring money, I would have bought this dress
- yào bùshì wǒ bù huì shuō yīngyǔ, wǒ zǎo jiù qù měiguó lǚyóule
- If it wasn’t for the fact I cannot speak English, I would have traveled to America long ago
You can also replace “要不是” with “如果不是”:
- Shuō zhège yǒu shéme yòng. Rúguǒ bùshì wǒ de fángzi dehuà, wǒmen xiànzài jiù méiyǒu zhège fánnǎo
- Say what’s the use of this. If it wasn’t for my house, we wouldn’t have this trouble right now
41. Y, Thanks to X (。。。，多亏 (了)。。。）
If something good happened thanks to something, connect the two sentences with 多亏. The good outcome should be placed first, the reason behind the 多亏 (了). For example:
- Wǒ méiyǒu yān sǐ, duōkuī le nǐ jíshí gǎn dào
- I didn’t drown, thanks to your timely arrival
Don’t use this to blame someone. If you want to scold someone, use 由于:
- Yóuyú nǐ de yúchǔn, wǒmen xiànrùle kùnjìng
- We’re in trouble because of your stupidity
42. With Expressing “with regards to” with “zhiyu” (至于）
至于 is a very flexible word in Mandarin and generally means ‘as to’ or ‘as for’. Normally it’s used like this to say ‘as to’:
- Wǒmen xiān mǎi yī liàng qìchē ba, zhìyú mǎi fángzi, wǒmen yǐhòu kànkan ba
- Let’s buy a car first, and as for buying a house, we’ll see later
- 我只能尽力而为。 至于结果，还要看学校是否接受我的申请
- Wǒ zhǐ néng jìnlì’érwéi. Zhìyú jiéguǒ, hái yào kàn xuéxiào shìfǒu jiēshòu wǒ de shēnqǐng
- I can only do my utmost best. As for the outcome, we’ll need to see if the school accepts my applications
Don’t use 至于 to start a new topic, but use it after a topic has been discussed.
43. Including (在内)
Connect two sentences with 在内, often preceded by 包括. Don’t translate 在内 as “is inside” but rather “included”. Like:
- 邮费在内, 我一共需要支付312元
- Yóufèi zài nèi, wǒ yīgòng xūyào zhīfù 312 yuán
- The total amount I had to pay, including postage, was ￥312
- Jíshǐ bāokuò wǒ de jiārén zài nèi, lǚyóu tuán cái sānshí gèrén
- Even including my family, the tour group was only thirty people
Or with the pattern “⋯⋯ ，(包括)⋯⋯ 在内”:
- Zhè jiàn shìqíng dàjiā dōu yǒu zérèn, bāokuò lǎobǎn zài nèi
- Everyone is responsible for this, including the boss
44. From the perspective of (对。。。而言）
This is a bit similar to 对。。。来说 from #25, but it’s more formal. Yet it works the same:
- Duì zhèngfǔ éryán, màoyì nìchā xūyào jǐnkuài jiějué.
- From the government’s point of view, the trade deficit needs to be solved as soon as possible.
45. Y to prevent X (以免)
Say the action before 以免 and the reason after it, such as:
- Xì hǎo ānquán dài yǐmiǎn zài shìgù zhōng zàochéng yánzhòng shānghài
- Fasten your seat belt to avoid serious injury in an accident
免除 isn’t a synonym to 以免 here. 以免 is a conjunction:
- Zǎodiǎn chūmén yǐmiǎn chídào
- Go out early to avoid being late
Whereas 免除 is a verb (to prevent):
- Jīqì jīngcháng jiǎnxiū, kěyǐ miǎnchú dà de gùzhàng
- Frequent maintenance of the machine can avoid major failures
Or to relieve:
- 免除债务Miǎnchú zhàiwù (Debt forgiveness)
- 免除职务 Miǎnchú zhíwù (To be removed from office)
- 免除处罚 miǎnchú chǔfá (to be relieved of punishment)
46. Even more so (person) (更有甚者)
Be careful: 者 indicates this is about a person. In Chinese, this is mostly used for describing people.
- Xǔduō rén dūhuì bèi àiqíng chōng hūn tóunǎo, gèng yǒu shén zhě, wèile ài fùchū shēngmìng de dàijià
- Many people will be carried away by love, and what is more, they will pay the price of their lives for love
- Zhēnzhèng shìhé háizi dú de shū yuè lái yuè shǎo, gèng yǒu shén zhě, yīxiē chūbǎn shèhuì wèile zìjǐ de lìyì, jiārù yǒuhài háizi shēnxīn jiànkāng de nèiróng.
- There are fewer and fewer books that are really suitable for children to read. What’s more, some publishers will add content that is harmful to children’s physical and mental health for their own benefit.
If you want to say “even more so” when it’s not concerning people, use “加之”, for example:
- Wǒ bù xǐhuān cānjiā jùhuì, jiāzhī wàimiàn zàixià yǔ
- I don’t like going to parties, plus it’s raining outside
47. Emphasise Subj. + 非(要) + Verb Phrase (+ 不可)
By know you’ve of course learned that with “要” you state an intent, but you can emphasise it with “非”, as in “非常”. If you state it like this, you will do it no matter what.
- She has no internet, but she has to learn programming
- Tā méiyǒu wǎngluò kěshì tā fēi yào xué biānchéng
Add ”不可“ to make it a statement that it must be done. “非……不可” equals to “一定要/会”:
- Zhège wénjiàn fēi (yào) háizi de jiānhùrén qiānzì bùkě
- This document must be signed by the child’s guardian
- Tā fēicháng xǐhuan zhège qúnzi, fēi mǎi bùkě
- She likes this dress so much that she has to buy it
- Zhège hétóng fēicháng zhòngyào, fēi lǎobǎn tóngyì qiānzì bùkě
- This contract is very important and cannot be signed unless the boss agrees
- Nǐ zàishuō xiàqù, tā fēi shēngqì bùkě
- If you continue to talk, he will be angry for sure
- Nǐ zàibu qǐchuáng, fēi chídào bùkě
- If you don’t get up, you will be late for sure
48. At the same time
Use this Chinese language sentence pattern to show that two things are happening at the same time, or simultaneously. This is similar to 同时 rather than 一边 (see point 6). The formula has two options:
Subj. + 兼 + Verb + Noun 1 + 和 + Noun 2, example:
- Tā jiān zuò xiàozhǎng hé shùxué lǎoshī
- He doubles as principal and math teacher
Or Subj. + 是 + Noun 1 + 兼 + Noun 2, example:
- Tā shì xiàozhǎng jiān shùxué lǎoshī
- He’s the principal and math teacher
In a longer sentence:
- Dāng xīnguān wéijī kāishǐ, měi gèrén dōu zàijiā gōngzuò shí, tā shì jiātíng bàba jiān gōngsī de rénlì zīyuán jīnglǐ
- When the Covid-19 crisis started and everyone was working from home, he’s the family dad and the company’s human resources manager
49. 与其 + A，宁可 / 宁愿 / 宁肯）+ B
Remember 不如 from point 27? This is like that one, but a more formal and advanced sentence pattern to express preference. Usually it’s not used for simply “better than” but also adds context.
So let’s grab that example from 不如:
- KFC bùrú Màidāngláo
- KFC is not as good as McDonald’s
We can say it also in this way. The latter topic should be more important:
- 与其说KFC比较吵，不如说KFC 是结识朋友的好地方
- Yǔqí shuō KFC bǐjiào chǎo, bùrú shuō KFC shì jiéshì péngyǒu de hǎo dìfāng
- Rather than saying that KFC is noisy, it is better to say that KFC is a good place to meet friends
- Yǔqí shuō màidāngláo de hànbǎo hào chī, bùrú shuō màidāngláo bǐjiào ānjìng
- Rather than saying that McDonald’s burgers are delicious, it’s better to say that McDonald’s is quieter
Of course, this sentence pattern is pretty formal and unlikely to be used in a McDonald’s vs KFC context.
You can also use it with 宁可 / 宁愿 / 宁肯 which all three mean “rather”. The structure then becomes “与其……宁可/宁愿/宁可……”, for example:
- Yǔqí hé yī ge bù ài de rén jiéhūn, wǒ nìngkě yibèizi dānshēn
- Rather than marrying someone I don’t love, I’d rather be single for the rest of my life
Yǔqí shuō tā zài xuéxí, bùrú shuō tā zài wán
It’s not so much that he’s studying, it’s that he’s playing
50. Stating several reasons
Organize your thoughts (and explain them) with this advanced Chinese sentence pattern! It’s simple though: 一来 + first reason, 二来 + second reason, etcetera. To answer someone why you’re learning Mandarin, you could say:
- Wǒ xuéxí Hànyǔ, yī lái shì wèile tígāo wǒ de gōngzuò jīhuì, èr lái shì wèile gēn zhōngguó rén jiāo péngyou
- I learn Chinese, firstly, to improve my job opportunities, and secondly, to make friends with Chinese people
How to know which sentence pattern to use?
Some sentence patterns are interchangeable, while others are all grammatically correct but the emphasis or meaning a little bit different. Just like in English, you would connect two sentences together as:
- This is not a great choice, because I think this one is better.
- This is not a great choice, but I think this one is better.
Try not to learn all these Chinese sentence patterns at the same time, but try to get them into your speaking rotation one by one. It helps writing out an article as well, because it’s easier to modify words on paper or a screen, rather than spoken text. And lastly, it greatly helps to read a lot (especially graded readers) and listen to a lot of podcasts or watch movies in Mandarin, because you’ll get used to the sentences patterns used by native speakers.