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 。Work may be busy, but I'm very happy.
- 这 件 衣服 好看 是 好看 ， 但是 不 适合 我 。This piece of clothing may look nice, but it doesn't suit me.
- 这里 的 环境 好 是 好 ，但是 交通 不太 方便 。This environment may be nice, but transportation is not very convenient.
- 累 是 累 ，但是 很 值得 。It may be tiring, but it's really 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 experiences or something good, as well as negative perspectives. However, when leading with 就是, the second clause needs to express something negative.
- 好吃 是 好吃 ，就是 不 太 健康 。It may be tasty, it's just that it's not very healthy.
- 这个 东西 好 是 好 ，就是 太 贵 了 。This thing may be good, it's just that it's too expensive.
- 这个 学生 聪明 是 聪明 ，就是 不 太 努力 。This student may be smart, it's just that he's not very hard-working.
- 他 女朋友 漂亮 是 漂亮 ，就是 有点 奇怪 。His girlfriend may be pretty, it's just that she's is a little weird.
- 这个 老师 教 得 好 是 好 ，就是 太 严格 。 This teacher may teach well; it's just that 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