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Chinese Grammar: Comparing 反而 and 相反 to say on the contrary

In our daily life, sometimes, you start doing something and, in the end, do something entirely different.

As everything has two sides, sometimes it turns out to be a good thing, and sometimes not...

Just like you guys learning Chinese. I believe all of you weren't cowed by the difficulties of the Chinese language, but, on the contrary, they inspire you to make an even more significant effort. Right?

So let’s look at how to use 反而 & 相反 to express a counter situation worthy of Bruce Lee's Kung Fu.

Basic structure rules of 反而 & 相反

反而 & 相反 can both express the contrary of something, but they are used differently.

First, from a grammatical point of view, these two words have different word types.

反而 is an adverb. It's embedded as a part of a whole phrase. 相反 is an adjective. It can be placed in the middle of a sentence with punctuation to split up the context and the turning result.


A,反而 B

Examples with 反而

没有 反而
Rather than stopping, it rained even harder.

没有 放弃 学习 汉语反而 坚持下去
He doesn’t give up on learning Chinese, on the contrary, he's carrying on.

Examples with 相反

没有 第一 相反 第一
He didn’t get the first prize, on the contrary, I got it.

以为 回家相反 留下
I thought he was going home, however, he is staying.

Different contexts to use 反而 & 相反

反而 indicates a turning point. Usually, what the speaker talked about did not create the expected result. Therefore, the outcome is really different from the previous situation and can, in fact be the complete opposite.

You'll use 相反, on the other hand, to describe a different aspect of a similar thing. The difference degree is not as strong as 反而.


Expectation,反而 + A strong opposite expectation


不但 反而 年轻
She hasn't aged, instead, she looks even younger.

妈妈 批评 反而 表扬
Mom didn’t criticize me, on the contrary, she praised me.

以为 大家 喜欢 苹果相反大家 喜欢
I thought everyone liked to eat apples, however, all the people hate it.

这个 没有 相反 情况 糟糕
After taking medicine, I didn’t feel better, on the contrary, my situation got even worse.

Other uses of 相反

Do you remember 相反 is an adjective? It can be used both as an attribute and a predicate. When 相反 is used as an attribute, use it with a noun, and make sure to add a just after. When 相反 is used as a predicate, then put it after the subject.


相反 + + Noun
Subject + 相反


姐妹 完全 相反
These two sisters have totally opposite personalities.

应该 相反 方向
You should walk in the opposite direction.

他们 看法 相反
They have different points of view.

我们 兴趣 相反
We have opposite hobbies.

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