Expressing "on the contrary" with "fan'er"

Revision as of 06:46, 11 December 2020 by WikiSysop (talk | contribs) (Text replacement - "māmā" to "māma")
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)

反而 (fǎn'ér) is used to express "on the contrary" or "in contrast," with 反而 appearing as part of the second part of the sentence. Note that the meaning of 反而 goes beyond just "but" and is usually used to explain that something is totally the opposite of what one was expecting.

Simple Pattern


Normally the first clause makes a statement, and then the second clause introduces the part that is totally opposite of one's expectations. The word "actually" may be helpful in some translations.

⋯⋯ ,Subj. + 反而 + [Unexpected Outcome]

It's also important to point out that 反而 is not a conjunction; it's an adverb. Practically speaking, this means that rather than joining two statements, it goes inside a statement (within the second clause). Specifically, it needs to come after the subject (if there is one) and before the verb. (This is different from a conjunction like 但是 which comes before the subject!) Also 反而 can appear in one sentence with 但是. Rather than replacing it, 反而 can work with 但是 to add even more contrarian emphasis.


  • 吃 了 这个 药 ,病 反而 更 严重 了。Chī le zhège yào, bìng fǎn'ér gèng yánzhòng le.After taking the medicine, the illness actually got even worse.
  • 这个 新 系统 反而 降低 了 我们 的 工作 效率 。Zhège xīn xìtǒng fǎn'ér jiàngdī le wǒmen de gōngzuò xiàolǜ.This new system actually reduced our work efficiency.
  • 他 没有 放弃 ,反而 更 努力 了 !Tā méiyǒu fàngqì, fǎn'ér gèng nǔlì le!He didn't give up; on the contrary, he worked even harder.
  • 改革 反而 让 老百姓 更 不 满意 了 。Gǎigé fǎn'ér ràng lǎobǎixìng gèng bù mǎnyì le.Reform actually made the people less satisfied.
  • 你 的 参与 反而 给 我们 带来 了 麻烦 。Nǐ de cānyù fǎn'ér gěi wǒmen dài lái le máfan.Your involvement is actually giving us trouble.

Common Mistake: Putting 反而 Before the Subject

Take note: when the subject of the first and second clause are the same, the subject can be omitted in the second clause (after the comma and before 反而). If there is a subject, however, 反而 definitely needs to come after it. See the simple examples below and then check the longer sentences above, confirming this rule.

  • 我 帮 了 她 , 反而 生气 了 。Wǒ bāng le tā, fǎnér shēngqì le.
  • 我 帮 了 她 , 反而 生气 了 。Wǒ bāng le tā, fǎnér shēngqì le.

Fuller Pattern

Adding 不但 or 不仅 adds a sense of "not only" before the "to the contrary" part. The word "actually" can be useful here for translations into English.


⋯⋯ ,Subj. [不但 / 不仅] + [不 / 没] ⋯⋯,反而 + [Unexpected Outcome]


  • 吃 了 药 ,病 不但 没 好,反而 更 严重 了。Chī le yào, bìng bùdàn méi hǎo, fǎn'ér gèng yánzhòng le.After taking the medicine, the illness not only didn't get better, but actually got even worse.
  • 失败 了 这么 多 次 ,他 不但 没 放弃 ,反而 更 努力 了。Shībài le zhème duō cì, tā bùdàn méi fàngqì, fǎn'ér gèng nǔlì le.Having failed so many times, he not only didn't give up, but rather worked even harder.
  • 不但 不 帮 我 ,反而 给 我 找 麻烦 。bùdàn bù bāng wǒ, fǎn'ér gěi wǒ zhǎo máfan.He not only didn't help me, but rather gave me trouble.
  • 你 妈妈 那么 爱 你 ,你 不但 不 感激 ,反而 说 她 不 关心 你 ?Nǐ māma nàme ài nǐ, nǐ bùdàn bù gǎnjī, fǎn'ér shuō tā bù guānxīn nǐ?Your mother loves you so much, and not only are you not grateful, but you even say she doesn't care about you?
  • 我 吃 了 减肥 药 ,不但 没 瘦 ,反而 长胖 了 !Wǒ chī le jiǎnféi yào, bùdàn méi shòu, fǎn'ér zhǎng pàng le!I took a weight loss pill. Not only did I not lose weight, but rather I actually gained weight!

See also

Sources and further reading