Comparing "fan'er" and “xiangfan"


The differences between 反而 (fǎn'ér) and 相反 (xiāngfǎn) are pretty clear. 反而 is an adverb, while 相反 is an adjective and also a conjunction, and this determines how they are used grammatically.

Position in a Sentence


相反 normally starts a sentence, and when used should be followed with a comma. As an adverb, 反而 is not so set apart from the rest of the sentence, and should not be followed by a comma.


A,反而 B


  • 这样 做 帮 不了 他 ,相反,还 会 害 了 他。.
  • 这样 做 不但 帮 不了 他,反而 会 害 了 他。.

Differences in Meaning

反而 is used in the context of the speaker expecting some kind of turning point. 相反 is for similar things that have a different aspect. 反而 conveys that the difference between what was expected and what actually happened was quite large. 相反 isn't as strong.


Situation,相反,The Opposite of the Situation

Expectation,反而 + The Opposite of Expectation


  • 好好 工作 就 会 升职,相反,不 好好 工作 是 不 会 升职 的。.
  • 老板 没有 生气,反而 表扬 了 我。.
  • 老板 没有 生气,相反,他 还 表扬 了 我。.

相反 can act as an attribute

相反 is an adjective, and of course it can also be an attribute. Just make sure to add a 的 after it. 反而 cannot be used this way.


相反 + 的 + Noun


  • 这 是 两 个 完全 相反 的 结果。These are two completely opposite results.
  • 你 应该 朝 相反的 方向 走。You should go down a different path.

相反 can be the predicate

相反, like all other adjectives, can be placed after the subject as the predicate of the sentence.


Subj. + 相反

A 和 / 跟 B + 是 + 相反的


  • 这 两 种 艺术 的 表现 形式 相反These two art pieces have completely different forms.
  • 我们 的 看法 是 相反 的。Our perspectives are not the same.
  • 老板 的 想法 跟 我 的 相反The boss's way of thinking and mine don't match up.
  • 现在 的 观念 和 以前 的 相反The views of today are different from what they were in the past.

See Also

Sources and further reading