Conceding a point with "shi"
When conceding a point, we often put emphasis on the point we are conceding, and in Chinese there is a way to do that with 是 (shì).
This pattern is often used in an argument or debate. It's usually indicating that the speaker is conceding a point, but they still have some reservations about the topic at hand. Don't worry, the examples will make this clear.
Adj. + 是 + Adj. ， 但是 / 就是 ⋯⋯
- 工作 忙 是 忙 ，但是 我 很 开心 。I am busy at work, but I'm very happy with my job.
- 这 件 衣服 好看 是 好看 ，但是 不 适合 我 。This piece of clothing looks good, but it doesn't look good on me.
- 这里 的 环境 好 是 好 ，但是 交通 不太 方便 。This environment is great, but the transportation is not very convenient.
- 累 是 累 ，但是 很 值得 。It's tiring, but it's all worth it.
- 难 是 难 ，但是 我 相信 我 能 做到 。It is difficult, but I believe that I can do it.
When using 但是, the second clause can express positive experience or something satisfactory, as well as negative situations. However, when using 就是, the second clause needs to express something unsatisfactory.
- 好吃 是 好吃 ，就是 不 太 健康 。It is tasty, but it's not very healthy.
- 这个 东西 好 是 好 ，就是 太 贵 了 。This thing is good, but it's too expensive.
- 这个 学生 聪明 是 聪明 ，就是 不 太 努力 。This student may be smart, but he's not very hardworking.
- 他 女朋友 漂亮 是 漂亮 ，就是 有点 矮 。His girlfriend is pretty, but she is a little short.
- 这个 老师 教 得 好 是 好 ，就是 太 严格 。 This teacher teaches very well; It's just she's too strict.
Sources and further reading
- Chinese: An Essential Grammar, Second Edition (pp. 180) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 2 (3rd ed) (pp. 22- 3) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 2, Part 1 (pp. 119) →buy