Chinese Notes
Chinese Notes

Back to collection

An Introduction to Chinese Grammar 汉语语法入门

复句 Complex Sentences

Complex sentences are made up of two or more simple sentences. The simple sentences that complex sentences are composed from are called clauses. In between the clauses a comma or a semicolon is used to represent a pause in spoken language. For example,

  1. 一个一个。 You order a meat dish, I will order a vegetarian dish.

    (The two clauses have a logical connection.)

  2. 篮球,(足球。 He plays basketball well and [he] also plays soccer well.

    (If the clauses have the same subject then it is only necessary to write it once.)

  3. 因为现在高峰所以路上。 Since it is peak hour, so there are a lot of cars on the road.

    (This complex sentence uses the correlatives 因为所以 to express the relationship between the clauses.)

Correlatives (关联词) are

  1. Conjunctions that connect clauses

    不但撞车酒后驾车而且逃逸现场。 Not only was the driver of the car that collided driving under the influence but he also fled the scene.

  2. Adverbs with a connecting function

    数学钢琴。 He can do math and he can also play the piano.

Complex sentences can be divided into the two types coordinate complex sentence and subordindate complex sentences.

Contracted sentences express the content of a complex sentence with the syntax of a simple sentence. For example,

  1. 头疼。 I have a headache, I am not going.

    (This means that because 头疼 'I have a headache' so 'I am not going'.)

  2. 。 If I feel like saying something then I will.

    (The conjunction 如果 is omitted.)

并列复句 Coordinate Complex Sentences

A coordinate complex sentence is composed of clauses with coordinate relations. In a coordinate complex sentence all the clauses are equal, there are no primary-secondary relations. For example,

  1. 不是帮助而是不会。 It is not that I don't want to help, it is that I don't know how.

    (This is a coordinative relation where the clauses each explain two different matters.)

  2. 孩子下课以后学校。 When the child finishes class, I will go to school to pick him up.

    (Successive relation, there is a sequence in the arrangement of the clauses.)

  3. 这个猴子不但聪明而且能干。 This young man is not only clever but is very capable.

    (Progressive relation, the second clause progresses a step beyond the first clause.)

  4. 米饭还是? Would you like to eat rice or eat noodles?

    (Alternative relation, the two conditions cannot coexist.)

Attention needs to be given to the position of correlatives in coordinate complex sentences:

  1. 不管我们朋友但是提醒。 Even though we are friends, I have to remind you about this matter.

    (If the subjects of the clauses are different then conjunctions should be placed before the subjects.)

  2. 咱们不但同事而且朋友。 Not only are the two of us coworkers but we are also friends.

    (If the clauses have the same subject then the conjunctions should be placed after the subject.)

  3. 咱们吃饭以后出去买东西。 Let's eat first, afterwards I will go out to buy some things.

    (Adverbs are always placed after the subject.)

Commonly encountered correlatives in coordinate complex sentences include 不是还是然后而且或者不但一边一面、and 一方面.

偏正复句 Subordinate Complex Sentences

A subordindate complex sentence is composed of clauses with a subordinate relation. Between the clauses there is a primary and a secondary. For example,

  1. 尽管早晨售票处但是。 Even though I arrived at the ticket office at 6 am, I was still not able to buy a ticket.

    (Contrasting relation — the first clause is the subordinate clause and and the second clause is the main clause.)

  2. 因为电视机所以办法冬奥会。 Because my television was broken, there was no way for me to watch the Winter Olympics.

    (Causative relation — the first clause [the subordinate clause] explains the reason and the second clause [the main clause] explains the result.)

  3. 如果小心意外发生。 (If you are not careful, an accident may happen.

    (Supposition or conditional relation — the first clause explains the condition and the second clause explains the result if the condition is satisfied.)

Often encountered correlative conjunctions in subordindate complex sentences include: 宁可与其就是即使假如如果要是除非只有无论不论不管既然由于因为尽管虽然但是为的是因此、and 所以. Frequently encountered correlative adverbs in the main clauses of subordindate complex sentences include: 反而.

Glossary and Other Vocabulary