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Expressing "not… but rather…" with "er shi"

不是⋯⋯而是⋯⋯ (bù shì... ér shì) means "not A, but rather B." This is a useful phrase to use in arguments to overturn a point of view and state the opposite.


不是 + A + 而是 + B

A above is the undesirable option, and B is the desirable option. The same could be expressed as follows:

是 + B + 而不是 + A


For example:

  • 不 是 不 想 帮忙 而 是 没有 能力 帮忙。It's not that I don't want to help, it's that I can't help.
  • 我 认为 有的人 做 慈善 活动 的 目的 不 是 为了 帮助 穷人 而 是 为了 提高 他们 的 名誉。I think that some people do charitable things, not only to help poor people, but also to improve their reputation.

See also

Sources and further reading