Expressing the unexpected with "jingran"
To express something is unexpected, you can use the adverb 竟然 (jìngrán) after the subject. 竟然 has the same meaning as 居然, but is not as intense.
Like many other adverbs, 竟然 is placed after the subject. This grammar structure is usually used in spoken Chinese.
Subj. + 竟然 ⋯⋯
You can also drop out the 然 and use just 竟. This can be used in spoken or written Chinese.
Note that it can be difficult to translate the word 竟然 into an appropriate English word. Sometimes it's just a feeling that doesn't come across well in English unless you can hear the tone of voice.
- 没想到 你 竟然 当 着 老师 的 面 撒谎 。I didn't expect you could lie in front of the teacher's face.
- 这 是 一 件 让 人 难过 的 事情 ，你 竟然 还 笑 ？This is something that makes people sad, but you are actually laughing?
- 他 那么 努力 ，竟然 没 考 及格 ！He is so hardworking, but, surprisingly, he didn't pass the exam.
- 那个人 骗 了 你 的 钱 ，你 竟 不 生 他 的 气 ？You got ripped off by that guy.
- 大家 都 以为 他 不 会 答应 ，可是 他 竟然 答应 了 。Everyone thought he would say no, but he said yes.
- 这么 复杂 的 项目 ，竟然 这么 快 就 完成 了 。This project is so complex, but it's been completed so soon.
Sources and further reading
- HSK Standard Course 4上 (pp. 69) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- New Practical Chinese Reader 5 (新实用汉语课本5) (pp. 9) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Chinese Grammar - Broken down into 100 items - Basic and Intermediate Levels (汉语语法百项讲练 - 初中级) (pp. 137) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Practicing HSK Grammar (语法精讲精炼) (pp. 41) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy
- Integrated Chinese: Level 2, Part 2 (pp. 49) Anything Goes (无所不谈) →buy