And in Chinese: 11 Ways to Join Nouns, Verbal Phrases, Adjectives and Actions
One of the easiest ways to make your language skills sound more advanced is by connecting your thoughts using conjunctions like “and.”
Just look at the difference:
I like to eat chicken. I also like to eat beef.
I like to eat chicken and beef.
The second example is much better, right?
This is true in Chinese, as well. Because Chinese is a contextual language, there’s an “and” for every circumstance.
Now, let’s take a look at all the different ways you can say “and” in Chinese!
- Connecting Subjects or Objects with 和 (hé)
- Connecting People Performing the Same Action with 跟 (gēn)
- Connecting Similar Verbal Phrases with 也 (yě)
- Connecting Similar Adjectives/Adverbs with 又 (yòu)
- Connecting Different Actions with 还 (hái)
- Other Ways to Express “And” in Chinese
- Or Don’t Say “And” in Chinese at All!
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Connecting Subjects or Objects with 和 (hé)
When you simply need to connect two nouns, go with 和. You can use 和 to connect two subjects or two objects.
Here’s an example of 和 connecting two subjects:
(wǒ hé tā zhǐ shì péng yǒu.)
He and I are just friends.
And here’s an example of 和 connecting two objects:
(tā xǐ huan sì chuān hé hú nán cài.)
She likes Sichuan and Hunan cuisines.
Connecting People Performing the Same Action with 跟 (gēn)
When two people are doing something together, there are two ways to express that using conjunctions.
You can either say, “You and I are going shopping,” or, “I am going shopping with you.”
Although the conjunction in the second option is “with” rather than “and,” it’s another option you can use to convey two people completing an action together.
So you can either stick 和 between the two people in the sentence, or you can swap that with 跟, which means “with.”
Here’s an example. Let’s say you want to share that you watched a movie with your boyfriend yesterday. There are two ways to express the same thought:
(zuó tiān wǒ hé nán péng yǒu kàn diàn yǐng.)
My boyfriend and I watched a movie yesterday.
(zuó tiān wǒ gēn nán péng yǒu [yì qǐ] kàn diàn yǐng.)
I watched a movie with my boyfriend yesterday.
Both options are correct, though using 跟 takes your Chinese fluency up a notch.
Note: 一起 means “together.” Referring to the example above, it’s implied that you and your boyfriend watched a movie together. But in Mandarin, the sentence formula for 跟 is as follows:
Subject + 跟 + Person + (一起)
As you can see, 一起 is completely optional but highly encouraged.
Connecting Similar Verbal Phrases with 也 (yě)
When two subjects share the same action or verbal phrase, 也 meaning “(and) also” is the appropriate conjunction to use in Chinese.
(tā qù guò yīng guó, wǒ yě qù guò yīng guó.)
She’s been to England, and I’ve also been to England.
(wǒ de péng yǒu xiǎng xué zhōng wén, wǒ yě xiǎng xué zhōng wén.)
My friend wants to learn Chinese, and I also want to learn Chinese.
Additionally, you can use 也 to connect two similar verbal phrases or actions by a single subject. Here are some examples:
(wǒ qù guò yīng gé lán, yě qù guò sū gé lán.)
I’ve been to England, and I’ve also been to Scotland.
(tā bù xǐ huan bào zi gān lán, yě bù xǐ huan xī lán huā.)
She doesn’t like Brussels sprouts, and she also doesn’t like broccoli.
Note: When used to connect verbal phrases, 也 is preceded by a comma.
Connecting Similar Adjectives/Adverbs with 又 (yòu)
If you’re looking to use multiple adjectives to describe a noun, the “and” to use in this situation would be 又. Please note that both adjectives have to be positive or negative.
Instead of simply placing 又 in between two adjectives, the correct format in Chinese is:
又 + adjective 1 + 又 + adjective 2
You can think of the double 又 as “both…and…” in English.
Here are a couple of examples:
(jiě jie de tóu fà yòu zhǎng yòu juǎn.)
(My) older sister’s hair is both long and curly.
(nà kuài dàn gāo yòu nóng nǎi yóu yòu duō.)
That cake is both rich and creamy.
Another option is to swap out the first 又 with 既 (jì). 既…又… also means “both…and…” The only difference between these phrases is that 既…又… can be used to connect adjectives and adverbs, whereas the double 又 only connects adjectives.
既 + adjective/adverb 1 + 又 + adjective/adverb 2
Here’s how the 既…又… can be used with adjectives and adverbs.
(yǎn jiǎng jì hùn luàn yòu wú liáo.)
The lecture was both disorganized and boring.
(tā gōng zuò jì xùn sù yòu ān jìng.)
He works both quickly and quietly.
Connecting Different Actions with 还 (hái)
What if you want to connect two different actions from a single subject?
Simple: Just use 还, meaning “and also,” as the conjunction.
(wǒ zhàng fu xǐ yī fu, hái zuò wǎn fàn.)
My husband does the laundry and also makes dinner.
(tā men hē le jiǔ, hái chī le nǎi lào.)
They drank wine and also had cheese.
Other Ways to Express “And” in Chinese
Thinking of using a synonym of “and” instead? Here are other Chinese conjunctions you can use in place of “and.”
以及 (yǐ jí) — as well as
(nín yào niú nǎi yǐ jí táng ma?)
Do you want milk as well as sugar?
还有 (hái yǒu) — and also
(yǒu yáng cōng, hú luó bo, hái yǒu qín cài.)
There are onions, carrots and (also) celery.
之后 (zhī hòu) — and then
(tā de ér zi zuò le zuò yè, zhī hòu wán diàn zǐ yóu xì.)
Her son did his homework, and then played video games.
然后 (rán hòu) — then
(tā men xiǎng qù xī bān yá, rán hòu qù yì dà lì.)
They want to go to Spain, then Italy.
不但…而且 (bú dàn…ér qiě) — not only… but also
(tā bú dàn huì chàng gē, ér qiě hái tiào wǔ.)
Not only can she sing, but she can also dance.
Or Don’t Say “And” in Chinese at All!
Now, why would I make you go through an entire list of translations for “and” in Chinese when there’s an option to not include it at all?
When it comes to speech, native and fluent speakers tend to drop words that can be inferred from conversation or context. One such word is “and.”
In spoken Chinese, you can drop the “and” to connect nouns.
(bà ba mā ma dào le ma?)
Have Mom and Dad arrived yet?
You can do the same when tying two actions to one subject.
(tā pǎo bù yóu yǒng.)
She runs and swims.
You can also drop the “and” to connect adverbs.
(tā shuō huà dà shēng qīng xī.)
He speaks loudly and clearly.
And lastly, you can drop the “and” to connect adjectives.
(nín de shuō míng bì xū qīng xī míng què.)
Your instructions need to be clear and specific.
Dropping the “and” can be risky, considering there are a lot of homonyms in Chinese. Two verbs, adjectives or adverbs put together could sound like you’re saying a completely different word than you’d intended.
Not having that clear division (“and”) between two ideas could lead to misinterpretation. That’s one of the reasons Westerners get confused with Chinese, even though there are plenty of similarities between English and Chinese grammar.
When dropping the “and,” it helps to pause in place of the conjunction to separate the ideas. You can also use a comma if you’re writing informally in chat, text, email, etc.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping the conjunction in spoken and written Mandarin. For clarity’s sake, keep the conjunction in there, and let’s leave this option to the pros.
I know that was a lot to take in, considering we only actually covered one conjunction. But having this insight into the various ways you can say “and” in Chinese immensely improves your speaking and writing skills.
Believe it or not, you’re well on your way to fluency already!