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.
Much better, right?
This is true in Chinese, as well.
You might not have had a formal lesson on Chinese conjunctions. Maybe you learned the word for “and” in a vocabulary list.
But how do you actually use the Chinese “and”? This post will get into all the different ways to connect your thoughts and sentences.
Before we get into it, let’s talk about why it’s important to learn conjunctions in Chinese.
Why Learn How to Use “And” in Chinese?
Mastering “and” takes you beyond basic fluency
Could you learn a language without knowing conjunctions like “and”? Absolutely, but being fluent in the language is a completely different story. You can survive on basic grammar but if you want to excel in Chinese grammar, knowing how to use “and” is crucial. It’s also super helpful for HSK exam prep.
Besides, what would language be without the existence of conjunctions? For starters, we’d always be talking in short, simplistic sentences in Mandarin. There would be no flair. There would be no fluidity. Language would be boring. We’d all sound robotic. Kind of like how I sound now.
But when you make use of conjunctions, you form elegantly complex sentences that paint a beautiful, more complete picture that wouldn’t have been translated otherwise.
Chinese conjunctions function slightly differently from English conjunctions
Conjunctions are important in language, but they become even more important when you’re learning another language.
Chinese conjunctions aren’t drastically different from the way we use English conjunctions but they’re more nuanced.
Take the word “and,” which we’ll be covering in this post. While the concept seems simple enough, there isn’t a singular translation for “and” in Chinese. The Chinese “and” depends on context or the intention of the speaker or writer. So if you want to learn how to speak Mandarin Chinese well, it’s time to learn some conjunctions.
Beyond the Basics: All the Different Ways to Say “And” in Chinese
Because Chinese is a contextual language, there’s an “and” for every circumstance. To make things a little bit more complicated, these conjunctions don’t always translate to the “and” we all know and understand in English. Thankfully, they still represent the joining of two or more ideas.
It might sound confusing, but no need to worry. We’ve broken everything down to clear things up for you.
Use 和 (hé) to Connect Two Nouns
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:
我和他只是朋友。(wǒ hé tā zhǐshì péngyǒu.) — He and I are just friends.
And here’s an example of 和 connecting two objects.
她喜欢四川和湖南菜。(tā xǐhuān sìchuān hé húnán cài.) — She likes Sichuan and Hunan cuisines.
Use 跟 (gēn) When the Subject and Person Perform an Action Together
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:
昨天我和男朋友看电影。(zuótiān wǒ hénán péngyǒu kàn diànyǐng.) — My boyfriend and I watched a movie yesterday.
昨天我跟男朋友(一起)看电影。(zuótiān wǒ gēn nán péngyǒu [yīqǐ] kàn diànyǐng.) — 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 (yīqǐ) 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.
Use 也 (yě) to Connect Similar Verbal Phrases
When two subjects share the same action or verbal phrase, 也 meaning “(and) also” is the appropriate conjunction to use in Chinese.
她去过英国，我也去过英国。(tā qùguò yīngguó, wǒ yě qùguò yīngguó.) — She’s been to England, and I’ve also been to England.
我的朋友想学中文，我也想学中文。(wǒ de péngyǒu xiǎng xué zhōngwén, wǒ yě xiǎng xué zhōngwén.) — 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, as demonstrated in the video below:
In this short clip, one person asks the other if she likes the object in question, to which she responded that she didn’t. He then asks if she likes another object, and she indicates that she also doesn’t like that object by using 也. She might have expressed her thoughts in two separate statements, but she connects the statements with 也 to show that she dislikes both objects that were presented to her.
If you had a difficult time following along with the audio, this clip can also be found on FluentU.
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Now let’s take a look at a couple of other examples of how you can use 也 with one subject:
我去过英格兰，也去过苏格兰。(wǒ qùguò yīnggélán, yě qùguò sūgélán.) — I’ve been to England, and I’ve been to Scotland.
她不喜欢抱子甘蓝，也不喜欢西兰花。(tā bù xǐhuān bào zǐ gānlán, yě bù xǐhuān xī lánhuā.) — 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.
Use 又 (yòu) to Connect Adjectives
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 would be:
又 + adjective 1 + 又 + adjective 2
You can think of the double 又 as “both…and…” in English.
Here are a couple of examples.
姐姐的头发又长又卷。(jiějiě de tóufǎ yòu zhǎng yòu juǎn.) — My older sister’s hair is both long and curly.
那块蛋糕又浓奶油又多。(nà kuài dàngāo yòu nóng nǎiyóu 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.
演讲既混乱又无聊。(yǎnjiǎng jì hùnluàn yòu wúliáo.) — The lecture was both disorganized and boring.
他工作既迅速又安静。(tā gōngzuò jì xùnsù yòu ānjìng.) — He works both quickly and quietly.
Use 还 (hái) to Connect Different Actions
What if you want to connect two different actions from a single subject?
Simple: Just use 还, meaning “and also,” as the conjunction.
我丈夫洗衣服，还做晚饭。(wǒ zhàngfū xǐ yīfú, hái zuò wǎnfàn.) — My husband does the laundry and also makes dinner.
他们喝了酒，还吃了奶酪。(tāmen hēle jiǔ, hái chīle nǎilào.) — 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 conjunctions you use in place of “and.”
Use 以及 (yǐjí) for “as well as”
您要牛奶以及糖吗？(nín yào niúnǎi yǐjí táng ma?) — Do you want milk as well as sugar?
Use 还有 (hái yǒu) for “and also”
有洋葱，胡萝卜，还有芹菜。(yǒu yángcōng, húluóbo, hái yǒu qíncài.) — There are onions, carrots and celery.
Use 之后 (zhī hòu) for “and then”
她的儿子做了作业，之后玩电子游戏。(tā de érzi zuòle zuòyè, zhī hòu wán diànzǐ yóuxì.) — Her son did his homework, and then played video games.
Use 然后 (ránhòu) for “then”
他们想去西班牙，然后去意大利。(tāmen xiǎng qù xībānyá, ránhòu qù yìdàlì.) — They want to go to Spain, then Italy.
Use 不但 …而且 (bùdàn…érqiě) for “not only… but also”
她不但会唱歌，而且会跳舞。(tā bùdàn huì chànggē, érqiě hái tiàowǔ.) — Not only can she sing, but she can also dance.
Or Don’t Say “And” 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.
爸爸妈妈到了吗? (bàba māmā dàole ma?) — Have Mom and Dad arrived yet?
You can do so to tie two actions to one subject.
她跑步游泳。(tā pǎobù yóuyǒng.) — She runs and swims.
You can also drop the “and” to connect adverbs.
他说话大声清晰。(tā shuōhuà dàshēng qīngxī.) — He speaks loudly and clearly.
And lastly, you can drop the “and” to connect adjectives.
您的说明必须清晰确定。(nín de shuōmíng bìxū qīngxī quèdìng.) — Your instructions need to be clear and specific.
Dropping the “and” can be risky, considering there are a lot of homonyms in Chinese.
Not having that clear division between two ideas could lead to misinterpretation, where two verbs, adjectives or adverbs put together could sound like you’re saying a completely different word than you’d intended. That’s one of the reasons why Westerners get confused with Chinese, even though there are tons 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.
Long story short, leave this option to the pros. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping the conjunction in spoken and written Mandarin. For clarity’s sake, keep the conjunction in there.
I know that was a lot to take in, considering we only actually covered one conjunction. But having this insight on 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.
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