Expressing "on the contrary" with "fan'er"

反而 (fǎn'ér) is used to express "on the contrary" or "in contrast," with 反而 going in the second part of the sentence. Note that the meaning of 反而 goes beyond just "but" and is usually used to explain that something is totally the opposite of what one was expecting.

Simple Pattern


Normally the first clause above makes a statement, and then the second clause introduces the part that is totally opposite of one's expectations.

The overall structure of sentences that use 反而 is something like this:

⋯⋯ ,Subj. + 反而 + [Unexpected Outcome]

It's also important to point out that 反而 is not a conjunction; it's an adverb. Practically speaking, this means that rather than joining two statements, it goes inside a statement (within the second clause). Specifically, it needs to come after the subject and before the verb. (Note that when you use a conjunction like 但是 it comes before the subject! 反而 is different in this respect. Also, rather than replacing 但是, it can work with it to add emphasis.

Also, sometimes the subject of the second clause will be omitted. If there is a subject, however, 反而 definitely need to come after it.

  • 我 帮 了 她 , 反而 她 生气 了 。
  • 我 帮 了 她 , 她 反而 生气 了 。


  • 他 没有 放弃 ,反而 更 努力 了 !He didn't give up; on the contrary, he worked even harder.
  • 改革 反而 让 老百姓 更 不 满意 了 。The reform didn't work very well; on the contrary, people are getting more unsatisfied.
  • 吃 了 这个 药 ,病 反而 更 严重 了。After taking medicine, the illness didn't get better. On the contrary, it got even worse.
  • 你 的 参与 反而 给 我们 带来 了 麻烦 。Your involvement wasn't really helpful; on the contrary, it gave us trouble.
  • 这个 新 系统 反而 降低 了 我们 的 工作 效率 。This new system didn't improve our working efficiency. On the contrary, it reduced it.

Fuller Pattern


⋯⋯ ,Subj. 不但 + 不 / 没 ⋯⋯,反而 + [Unexpected Outcome]

不仅 can also be used instead of 不但。


  • 吃 了 药 ,病 不但 没 好,反而 更 严重 了。After taking medicine, the illness didn't get better. On the contrary, it got even worse.
  • 失败 了 这么 多 次 ,他 不但 没 放弃 ,反而 更 努力 了。Having failed so many times, he didn't give up. On the contrary, he worked even harder.
  • 不但 不 帮 我 ,反而 给 我 找 麻烦 。He didn't help me. On the contrary, he brought me trouble.
  • 你 妈妈 那么 爱 你 ,不但 不 感激 ,反而 说 她 不 关心 你 ?Your mother loves you so much. You are not thankful to her at all. On the contrary, you said she doesn't care about you?
  • 我 吃 了 减肥 药 ,不但 没 瘦 ,反而 长胖 了 !I took the weight-loss pill. She didn't lose weight at all. On the contrary, I gained weight!

See also

Sources and further reading