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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,
- 你点一个荤的，我点一个素的。 You order a meat dish, I will order a vegetarian dish.
(The two clauses have a logical connection.)
- 他篮球打的好，（他）足球也踢的好。 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.)
- 因为现在是高峰，所以路上的车很多。 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
- Conjunctions that connect clauses
不但撞车的人酒后驾车，而且他逃逸现场。 Not only was the driver of the car that collided driving under the influence but he also fled the scene.
- Adverbs with a connecting function
他又会数学，又会弹钢琴。 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,
- 我头疼不去。 I have a headache, I am not going.
(This means that because 我头疼 'I have a headache' so 不去 'I am not going'.)
- 我想说就说。 If I feel like saying something then I will.
(The conjunction 如果 is omitted.)
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,
- 不是我不想帮助，而是我不会。 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.)
- 孩子下课以后，我到学校接他。 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.)
- 这个下猴子不但聪明，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.)
- 你想吃米饭，还是想吃面？ 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:
- 不管我们是朋友，但是我还得给你提醒这件事。 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.)
- 咱们俩不但是同事，而且是朋友。 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.)
- 咱们先吃饭，我以后才出去买东西。 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，还、然后、而、而且、或、或者、就、又、也、不但、一边、一面、and 一方面.
A subordindate complex sentence is composed of clauses with a subordinate relation. Between the clauses there is a primary and a secondary. For example,
- 尽管我早晨六点到了售票处，但是我还没买到票。 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.)
- 因为我的电视机坏了，所以没办法看冬奥会。 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.)
- 如果不小心，意外会发生的。 (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: 才、就、也、都、即、反而.
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