Expressing "and then" with "yushi"
于是 is a conjunction used to express a continuation between two events. The second event is the direct result of the first event. You'll often hear 于是 used in storytelling.
于是 is a conjunction that comes between two clauses. Its closest English equivalent would be "and then." Since 于是 can only be used to talk about the past, 了 is often used in the same sentence.
⋯⋯ ，于是 ⋯⋯ + 了
- 我 看 大家 都 买 了 ，于是 我 也 买 了 。I saw everyone was buying it. So then I bought it, too.
- 昨天 突然 下雨 了 ，于是 我们 取消 了 野餐 的 计划 。It rained yesterday, so we cancelled the picnic.
- 网站 上 的 票 已经 卖光 了 ，于是 我们 买 了 黄牛票 。The tickets on the website were all sold out. So then we bought tickets from scalpers.
- 他 的 英语 太差 了，于是 ，他 妈妈 给 他 请 了 一个 英语 家教 。His English was too terrible. So then his mother hired an English tutor for him.
- 她 发现 男朋友 已经 结婚 了 。于是 ，她 马上 跟 他 分手 了 。She found out that her boyfriend was already married. So she immediately broke up with him.
于是 Used with 就
于是 is often used with 就 to emphasize that the actions or events that come after 就 are immediately after the first event.
- 电影 太 暴力 了 ，我们 实在 看 不 下去 了 ，于是 就 走 了 。This movie was so violent, we couldn't bear watching it anymore. So then we left.
- 他 实在 太 懒 了 ，于是 老板 就 把 他 辞 了 。He was way too lazy, so the boss just let him go.
- 我 很 喜欢 这个 手机 ，于是 就 买 下来 了 。I really like this cell phone, so I just bought it.
- 那个 学生 学习 不 认真，于是 就 被 他的 妈妈 骂 了 。That student didn't study seriously, so he was scolded by his mother.
- 刚刚 跟 朋友 聊到 了 旅行 ， 于是 两 个 人 就 打开 了 话匣子 ， 聊 了 起来 。 While chatting they had just gotten to the topic of travel, and then the two of them really got going, talking non-stop.
因此 vs. 于是
While they may seem very similar, 因此 is not quite the same as 于是. When using 因此, it acts as a conjunction that expresses the cause and effect. Because of the reasons in clause one, clause two reaches this result or conclusion.
- 因此 emphasizes a cause and effect relationship. 于是 emphasizes that the first event is closely followed by the second event.
- 于是 can only be used to recount events that happened in the past.
- 因此 is more formal and mostly used in writing. 于是 is more commonly used when speaking.
- 他 经常 随便 开玩笑 ，于是 ，大家 都 不 喜欢 跟 他 说话 。
- 他 经常 随便 开玩笑 ，因此 ，大家 都 不 喜欢 跟 他 说话 。He often makes jokes recklessly. Therefore, people doesn't like to talk to him.
In the incorrect sentence above, it is not two sequential events that happened in the past, so 于是 is not appropriate. In the correct sentence, there is a clear cause-effect relationship, so 因此 is used.
Sources and further reading
- HSK Standard Course 4下 (pp. 49) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- 现代汉语虚词手册 (pp. 326) 卓越汉语－公司实战篇 →buy
- 现代汉语八百词（增订本） (pp. 636) [ →buy]
- 对外汉语教学语法释疑201例 (pp. 362) [ →buy]