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Chinese Grammar: "Except" and "in addition" with "除了...以外"

Lupishu keeps wanting to know what Nincha likes aside from catnip, but Nincha will only tell him if he knows how to ask him that in Chinese! Let’s help him out, shall we? The pattern you need to know to say that is 除了...以外 (chúle...yǐwài). It’s a very common pattern in Chinese and very useful.

The pattern 除了...以外

除了...以外 has two meanings. It can either mean “except”, “aside from”, or “in addition to”, “besides”. The way it works is simple: You frame the exception or the addition by putting 除了 in front and 以外 at the end.


除了 [exception/addition] 以外 + rest of the sentence

以外 can also be omitted in the sentence.

How to know if it’s an exception or an addition

Are you wondering how 除了 ... 以外 can both mean “in addition” and “except”? To know which 除了you’re facing, pay close attention to the adverbs in the sentence, they’ll clue you in as to which meaning you can expect. Let’s start with 除了 ... 以外 meaning “except”.

Using 除了...以外 to exclude

The verb (chú) means “to exclude”, “to get rid of”, which is why__ 除了...以外__’s most common meaning is “apart from”, “expect”, “aside from”.

Sentences with__ 除了...以外__ that mean “except” or “aside from”, all include a dou and follow this pattern:


除了 + Noun / Phrase + (以外) , Subject/Noun phrase + + Verb


除了(以外)大家 学校
We all went to school, except for him.

Everyone except you has finished writing.

除了苹果(以外)什么 好吃
Aside from apples, nothing tastes good.

Using 除了...以外 to be inclusive

You can also use 除了...以外 in a more inclusive manner, to express “in addition to”, or “besides. The pattern is then always followed by hai or ye (also, either) in the sentence.


[除了 + Noun/Phrase + (以外) + Subject/Noun Phrase + / + Verb]


除了唱歌以外 跳舞
In addition to singing, I can also dance.

除了英语以外 汉语
In addition to English, he can also speak Chinese.

除了大米以外喜欢 面条
Besides rice, I also like eating noodles.

除了火车站以外 机场
In addition to the train station, my home isn’t far from the airport either.

除了鸡爪以外其他 便宜
Besides the chicken claws, the rest is cheap too.

How do you feel about 除了...以外 now?If you remember that it can both mean “except from” and “in addition”, and that a good way to know which meaning you’re facing is to look at the adverbs in the sentence, you’ll be well on your way to mastering this pattern! Next step: practice building sentences with this pattern. Press Play to get started!

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