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Chinese Grammar: Expressing possiblity with 的话

Now that you're familiar with the two-part "if... then" pattern, 如果... (read the lesson here), let's show you how to take expressing possibilities a little further. Introducing the "If" sandwich with 如果...的话!

Express a strong possibility with 的话 (+如果)

Meet 的话. It also means "if". However, unlike 如果, 的话 is placed at the end of a proposition or a phrase.

You use it with 如果 to strengthen the possibility you're expressing.

Why is that? Because using two words that mean "if" in your sentence reinforces the fact you are talking about a possibility. As you'll see, using several very similar-meaning words in a sentence is a common way of reinforcing a meaning in Chinese.


如果 A 的话, () B Where A is a supposition and B is a consequence of that supposition.

Another way of understanding this is that you can sandwich the information you want to make conditional with two ifs: 如果 and 的话. Doing this reinforces your meaning.

Since you're using two "if" words, this structure is a little more formal than if you just used only one if. Don't fret, though; it doesn't become overly formal either. You can still easily use this structure in verbal speech. It's great to use when you want to add a little dramatic flair.


If you go, I'll go.

如果 试一试 的话 相信 一定 适应
If you give it a try, I'm sure you'll be able to adapt.

如果 想要 可以 照相机
If you want, I can lend you my camera.

Open-faced sandwich with just 的话

Lastly, you can also choose to drop 如果 and use 的话 on its own to express possibility. This is a more colloquial way of saying things.


A 的话, B


夏天 的话
When it's summer, I don't want to drink soup.

好喝 的话
If you find it good, then drink some more.

Ready to go practice using these grammar words to express possibility? I bet you are!

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