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
- 我 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.
- Expressing "either ... or ..." with "yaome"
- Expressing the only two possibilities
- The pattern "it's not…, it's…"
Sources and further reading
- Integrated Chinese: Level 2, Part 1 (pp. 306-7) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 4 (新实用汉语课本4) (pp. 20) →buy
- 40 Lessons for Basic Chinese Course (基础汉语40课下册） (pp. 516) →buy
- Yale Chinese Usage Dictionary: Usage of 而