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How can you say ‘and’ in Mandarin Chinese?

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The English word ‘and’ is one-size-fits-all: it can link nouns (persons or things, e.g., teacher, table), verbs (actions, e.g., to run, to walk), and adjectives (descriptive words, e.g., sweet, beautiful). However, the Mandarin Chinese ‘and’ has many sizes.

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Excited for the challenge? Let’s dive in!

 

 

Connecting nouns and pronouns

Noun A + 和/跟/与/及 +  Noun B

The words 和 (hé), 跟 (gēn), and 与 (yǔ) connect nouns and pronouns, in the sense of “and” and “with.”  和 (hé) can also connect three or more nouns. 与 (yǔ) and 及 (jí) tend to be used in a formal context. Let’s take a look at the various ways these conjunctions can be used.

Connecting two nouns or pronouns
  •  A and B: 

和/与我都是大学学生。(Tā hé/yǔ wǒ dōu shì dàxuésheng) 
He and I are university students.

  • A with B: 

/我一起去。(Tā hé/gēn wǒ yī) 
He will go with me. 

In the first sentence, 和 (hé) or 与 (yǔ) join A and B, while in the second sentence, 和 (hé) or 跟 (gēn) is used to mean A ‘with’ B. Now, what might we do if we want to connect more than two items?

Connecting more than two nouns or pronouns

When we have more than two nouns, we can use 和 (hé). In this case, it only precedes the last noun:      

我买了苹果、梨葡萄。 (Wǒ mǎi le píngguǒ, lí, hé pútáo) 
I bought apples, pears, and grapes

小王、老张、老李都来了。 (Xiǎo Wáng, Lǎo Zhāng, hé Lǎo Lǐ doū lái le)                             Xiao Wang, Lao Zhang, and Lao Li all came.

Formal context

In formal contexts, 与 (yǔ) tends to be used as well as 及 (jí): 

请写上你的地址电话。 (Qǐng xiě shàng nǐ de dìzhǐ jí diànhuà) 
Please write down your address and phone number.

Connecting verbs and adjectives

We’ve seen how to connect one or more nouns and pronouns. Now, let’s take a look at how these words can connect actions and descriptors (verbs and adjectives). Check out this helpful diagram below:

又 (yòu) + verb/adjective A + 又 (yòu) verb/adjective B
既 (jì) + adjective A + 又/也 (yě) adjective B

又 (yòu)... 又 (yòu), together with 既 (jì)… 又/也…, connect verbs and adjectives. When using 又... 又, no degree words (e.g.  很 (hěn) [very]) can be used. When there are degree words, we use 也. 既 … 又/也… tends to link adjectives. Let’s see it in practice.

跳。(Tā yòu chàng yòu tiào) 
He sings and dances.

聪明能干。(Tā yòu cōngmíng yòu nénggàn)  
She is intelligent as well as capable.

⤷TIP: Generally, the first 又 can be left out.

 
What to keep in mind
  • When connecting verbs, one-syllable verbs are preferred over two-syllable verbs. For a refresher on the meaning of “syllables,” check out “Unpacking the grammar” at the end of the post!      

  • When verbs consist of two syllables, we add a comma in between, e.g., 他唱歌跳舞 (Tā chànggē, tiàowǔ) [He sings and dances]. 

  • There is no syllable requirement when connecting adjectives.   

  • When connecting adjectives, both adjectives should be either positive or negative, they cannot be mixed. Otherwise, we say 她聪明, 不用功 (Tā cōngmíng, dàn bù yònggōng) [She is intelligent, but not working hard].

  • When using the 又...又... structure to connect adjectives, we can't add degree words, e.g., 很 (hěn) [very]:

❌ 他很聪明很能干。

BUT if you want to use degree words, you need to use (yě) instead of .

For example, 

他很聪明,很能干 (Tā hěn cōngmíng, yě hěn nénggàn) 
He is very intelligent and very capable.

  • 既 (jì) … 又 (yòu) or 也 (yě) … tend to connect adjectives only:

聪明又/也能干 (Tā jì cōngmíng yòu / yě nénggàn) 
She is intelligent as well as capable.

  • You can also use 和 (hé) to connect verbs. In this case though, verbs are often not used alone. For example, we can say:

关于这个问题,我会进一步了解说明。(Guānyú zhègè wèntí, wǒ huì jìn yībù liǎojiě hé shuōmíng) 
I will get to know this issue better and explain it further. 

However, we don’t say, 

❌ 关于这个问题,我了解说明。(Guānyú zhègè wèntí, wǒ liǎojiě hé shuōmíng) 
I will get to know this issue and explain it. 

In the former sentence, 了解说明 [get to know and explain] are used together with 会进一步 [will further] which is another element that modifies 了解说明, so 和 (hé) can be used here. But the latter sentence is not okay because the verbs are not used with any other elements.

Connecting sentences

We’ve connected the various parts of a sentence with conjunctions, now let’s try connecting whole sentences together! There are plenty of options for which kind of Mandarin ‘and’ we can use — take a look at the construction below:

Sentence A, 也/还/而且/并且 + sentence B

也 (yě), 还 (hái), 而且 (érqiě), and 并且 (bìngqiě) connect sentences when their subjects are the same. When the subjects are different, 也 is the only suitable option, the other three are not. (Review “subjects” in “Unpacking the grammar!”)

他去买了些东西去看了一个朋友。(Tā qù mǎi le xiē dōngxī, hái qù kàn le yīgè péngyǒu) 
He bought some things, also visited a friend. (same subject, 他)

他给她打了电子邮件,她回复了。(Tā gěi tā dǎ le diànzǐyóujiàn,  tā yě huífù le)
He emailed her, and she replied to it. (different subjects, 他, 她)

What to keep in mind
  • When used to connect two sentences with the same subject, 也/还/而且/并且 are preceded by a comma in writing.

  • When two sentences share the same subject, the second subject can be dropped.

  • When used to connect two sentences with different subjects, only 也 is used and it is placed after the subject of the second sentence.

  IMPORTANT 

和 (hé) does not connect sentences, so avoid the following mistake:

❌他聪明,她也聪明。
(Tā cōngmíng,  hé tā yě cōngmíng) 
He is intelligent, and so is she.

 

Leave ‘and’ out

You can actually drop ‘and’ altogether, especially in informal and spoken Mandarin Chinese, including text messages, group chats, emails, twitter, etc.

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 IMPORTANT

Have you noticed the magic of the punctuation mark ‘、’ to replace ‘and’? It’s called 顿号 (dùnhào); it’s used to list words, and is similar to an English comma. Even in the case where no ‘and’ should be added, this punctuation can still do the trick. So, you may want to remember this very useful little punctuation mark. It has actually been suggested that the easiest way to connect two non-noun words is to omit ‘and’ (i.e., doing nothing at all is the best option).

 

⤷TIP: The comma, 顿号, is used in writing; when speaking, put a pause in the place of a 顿号.

Summary

Below are the patterns to follow when you use the Mandarin Chinese ‘and’ along with some tips:

  • Noun A + 和/跟/与/及 +  Noun B

  • 又 (yòu) + verb/adjective A + 又 (yòu) verb/adjective B

  • 既 (jì) + adjective A + 又/也 (yě) adjective B

  • Sentence A, 也/还/而且/并且 + sentence B

  • When the subjects of the two sentences are the same, the second one can be omitted

  • You can drop ‘and’ altogether in some situations 

Unpacking the grammar

  • A syllable contains a single vowel sound: 唱 (chàng) has one syllable, 唱歌 chànggē [to sing] has two syllables. 

  • A subject refers to someone or something performing the action, or having the characteristic conveyed in a sentence. 

John is working - “John” is the subject, performing the action of “working.”

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Ready to give it a try? Here are some exercises which will help you revise and reinforce your knowledge about ‘and’ in Mandarin Chinese. Let's go!

Grace Zhang

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