Jump to: navigation, search

Two words for "but"

Using "but" in Chinese is really simple to learn. It involves the two words 可是 (kěshì) and 但是 (dànshì). Make no "buts" about it; you'll understand it in no time!

Structure

There are two main words for "but" in Chinese: 可是 (kěshì) and 但是 (dànshì). These are largely the same. The small difference is that 但是 (dànshì) is slightly more formal, whereas 可是 (kěshì) is just a bit more informal and a tad weaker in tone. You really don't need to worry about which one is the right one to use though, since they can be used interchangeably.

Statement, 可是 / 但是 + [Contrary Statement]

Examples

Usually 可是 (kěshì) and 但是 (dànshì) precede a new phrase within a sentence:

  • 我 喜欢 他,可是 他 不 喜欢 我。Wǒ xǐhuan tā, kěshì tā bù xǐhuan wǒ.I like him, but he doesn't like me.
  • 我 很 想 去,但是 我 太 忙 了。Wǒ hěn xiǎng qù, dànshì wǒ tài máng le.I really want to go, but I am too busy.
  • 中文 很 有意思,但是 也 很 难。Zhōngwén hěn yǒuyìsi, dànshì yě hěn nán.Chinese is very interesting, but it is also very hard.
  • 我 喜欢 这 件 衬衫,可是 太 贵 了。Wǒ xǐhuan zhè jiàn chènshān, kěshì tài guì le.I like this shirt, but it is too expensive.
  • 老板 昨天 给 他 打 电话,可是 他 没 接。Lǎobǎn zuótiān gěi tā dǎ diànhuà, kěshì tā méi jiē.The boss gave him a call yesterday, but he didn't answer.
  • iPhone 很 好,但是 我 没 钱 买。iPhone hěn hǎo, dànshì wǒ méi qián mǎi.The iPhone is great, but I don't have the money to buy it.
  • 你们 可以 在 这里 看书,可是 不 可以 说话。Nǐ kěyǐ zài zhèlǐ kàn shū, kěshì bù kěyǐ shuōhuà.You can read books here, but you can't talk.
  • 你 可以 吃, 但是 不 可以 吃 太 多。Nǐ kěyǐ chī, dànshì bù kěyǐ chī tài duō.You can eat, but you can't eat too much.
  • 他 说 五 点 来 见 我,但是 他 没 来。Tā shuō wǔ diǎn lái jiàn wǒ, dànshì tā méi lái.He said he would come to see me at five, but he didn't.
  • 这 个 地方 很 漂亮,但是 人 太 多 了。Zhège dìfang hěn piàoliang, dànshì rén tài duō le.This place is beautiful, but there are too many people.

Note: In informal spoken Chinese, 可是 (kěshì) can be shortened to 可 (kě), and 但是 (dànshì) can be shortened to 但 (dàn).

See also

Sources and further reading

Books

{{Source|Chinese Reference Series for Foreigners - 1700 Groups of Frequently Used Chinese Synonyms (外国人学汉语工具书 - 1700对近义词语用法对比)]] (p.319)