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Chinese Grammar: Indicating contrast with 则

Hey, little dragon! How's it going with to highlight the contrast between two situations? Good? Great!

Today, we will introduce you to another word to express contrast: . Let's explore how to contrast a little differently than with .


Instead of , you can also use to compare two things. Also a conjunction word, is usually used to compare two clauses in written Chinese. You'll often come across it in Chinese classical literary prose when indicating contrast.

The difference between and

While places stress on the opposite side of what was previously said by the speaker, expresses just “in contrast.” Thus, has a somewhat "neutral attitude" when contrasting two things.

is quite close in meaning to , an easier way to say “but”. The only difference between the two is that is used in spoken language and is used in written Chinese.

Structure I

Clause 1, + Clause 2


南方比较 湿润北方 相对 干燥
The south is rather humid, but the north is relatively dry.

来自 北方 来自 南方
He is from the north, while she is from the south.

His friend is coming; in contrast, he is leaving.

东西 珍惜
The more one has, the less one will cherish.

Another pattern you can use with is with to contrast two clauses:

Structure II

Clause 1, + + Subject + + Predicate


苹果 香蕉
He wants to buy apples, while she wants to buy bananas.

大家 晚上 睡觉 白天 睡觉
All of us sleep at night, but he sleeps in the daytime.

妻子 中国 丈夫 日本
His wife wants to go to China, while her husband wants to go to Japan.

有些 错误 可以 弥补 有些 无法 挽回
Some mistakes can be mended, while others simply cannot.

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