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Chinese Grammar: Expressing contrariness with 倒

The word is fascinating in Chinese, and it has many practical usages.

Use when you want to express a point or to contrast two things.

However, it's not as simple as saying "but." stresses the "reverse" of things. You then use to indicate what's happening is unexpected.

as a verb meaning "upside-down" and "to pour something"

The very primary use of is being a verb that means "upside down."


This painting is upside down.

can also mean "to pour something."


to pour the water;

摔倒 to fall down

as a verb is very straightforward to use.

as an adverb

used as an adverb means "on the contrary," something contrary to what we are expecting. Usually, when this word is used, two sides of a situation are described, one positive, and one negative.

Expressing an unexpectedly positive situation

In this situation, you can describe, first, a negative situation and then add with a favorable position or remark to contrast.


Situation 1 + Negative side, (Situation 2) + + Positive side]


这个 饭店 环境 挺好
The environment of this restaurant is bad, but the dishes are pretty tasty.

经常 上课成绩 不错
He usually doesn't go to classes; however, he has good grades.

虽然 天气 倒是 有点
Though the weather is sweltering, (but) there is still a gentle breeze.

Expressing a concession and a complaint

In this case, you should announce the positive side after first and then add a conjunction word like 不过, 但是, 就是 to make a negative comment to oppose the former positive saying.


+ Positive side (concession) + 不过 / 但是 / 就是 + Negative side


裙子 倒是 好看就是 有点儿
The dress looks pretty nice, but a little bit expensive.

北京 倒是 值得 但是
Beijing is worth visiting; it's just that the people are too crowded.

这个 倒是 不错不过 说话
He is a pretty nice guy, but he doesn't talk that much.

Sentence pattern with

When using as an adverb, you can also add after a verb, directly followed by to describe something that is on the opposite side.


Subject + Verb + + + Adjective

Note that in this structure, you need to follow the format: verb before and adjective after This is a little unusual, but let's see some examples, and you'll understand how to use it.


容易但是 付出 行动
It's easy for you to talk, but you should also take action!

这儿 不错就是
It's nice to eat here; it's just that a little bit expensive.

每天 饺子
Eat dumplings every day? You are just dreaming! (because it is complicated to make)

Expressions with

In daily life, you'll also hear some expressions with in spoken Chinese.

Expression 1

。 I guess so.

Expression 2

不如。 Rather than.

Expression 3


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