Lesson 18 How to structure “however” and “but” sentence in Chinese

Posted by Grace Feng on April 5, 2012

Lesson 18 How to structure “however” and “but” sentence in Chinese?“However” and “but” in most cases can be directly translated into the following Chinese words.

however = 然而 rán’ér

but = 但是 dàn shì

Replacing “however” and “but” with the above words in your sentence should serve it’s purpose. Let’s move along then you’ll see how to structure this kind of sentences.

Please go through your new vocabulary drill first. :-) Use the estroke tool below the new word table to practice your writing:

rán’ér dàn shì kě shì
[hanzi]然而[/hanzi] [hanzi]但是[/hanzi] [hanzi]可是[/hanzi]
however but but
bù guò xǐ huan jiàn
[hanzi]不过[/hanzi] [hanzi]喜欢[/hanzi] [hanzi][/hanzi]
but like quantifier
qún zi mǎi zhī chí
[hanzi]裙子[/hanzi] [hanzi][/hanzi] [hanzi]支持[/hanzi]
skirt  buy zhi chi
dú lì


  • You can copy and paste a few characters together into the box. They’ll show in the animation window one by one.
  • Once the stroke animation stops, click in the animation window and hit ENTER to replay it.
  • You can use the sliding bar to control writing speed of the animation.


Done? Good, let’s learn them from examples:

I like this skirt, but I can’t buy it.

wǒ xǐhuan zhè jiàn qúnzi, dànshì wǒ bùnéng mǎi tā.

我喜欢这件裙子, 但是我不能买它.

[mp3j track=”L18-wo-xi-huan.mp3″]


They will support us. However, we should learn to be independent.

tāmen zhīchí wǒmen. rán’ér, wǒmen yīnggāi xuéhuì dúlì.

他们支持我们. 然而, 我们应该学会独立.

[mp3j track=”L18-ta-men-zhi-chi.mp3″]

You’ll never need to reassemble the word order in the sentence due to adding “but” or “however” to your sentence. Just directly add 然而 rán’ér, or 但是 dàn shì to the beginning of the main sentence or the sub sentence. You can add a comma right after 然而 rán’ér or 但是 dàn shì to give a graceful break to your sentence. Or add them without comma.

Other than 然而 rán’ér or 但是 dàn shì可是 kě shì and 不过 can be used as the same meaning and in the same way. In fact, all four words are very similiar:

然而 rán’ér, 但是 dàn shì, 可是 kě shì, 不过 dàn shì

The only difference is “然而 rán’éris mostly used in writing, not speaking. The other three can be used both in writing and speaking.

Are you clear now? I don’t think it’ll be too difficult to come up some sentences to practice in this regards. So go ahead practice in your own way until the four words (at least two, OK?) can come to your lips easily whenever you need them.

Another week day is ahead, let’s wrap up our study and go to bed early today. Good night!


Related posts:

Lesson 17 How to ask directions in Chinese
Lesson 28 How to express "used to do ..." in Chinese?
Reading, Listening and Speaking practice 18


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2 Responses to “Lesson 18 How to structure “however” and “but” sentence in Chinese”

  1. nothing


    04-05-2012 11:05 am

    Hi Grace. I’m familiar with 但是,可是,and 不过 but I’ve seldom used 然而 before. How are the following sentences?



    Does 还是 sound better in the last sentence than 仍然?


    • nothing


      04-05-2012 4:53 pm


      Listening comprehension is a long journey, but don’t get frustrated. Focused repeatitive listening practice is the best way to improve.

      “Does 还是 sound better in the last sentence than 仍然?”

      To me, both works the same in this sentence.



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