Too many howevers

bù guò

dàn shì

kě shì

rán ér

Does it make any difference which one I use?

I suppose we don’t use however as much,however it does seem to be used here,however strange the context may be.I do think however you will learn which context feels right,however this may take time. I hope this helps,however complicated it seems now. However hard i try i cant resist humour,however i hope i don’t offend. :popcorn:

It’s bú guò in fact, I think.

I think “bu guo” and “dan shi” are most common here in everyday use. “ke shi” somewhat more formal/official/educated/mainland but still often heard. “ran er” is primarily a written form. Besides that, I can’t think of any difference, though I’m less sure about the usage of “ran er”.

I’ll throw in my 2 cents. 可是 and 但是 are virtually the same, perhaps 可是 used a bit more in spoken Chinese, at least in Singapore. 然而 is very 書面 thus more formal, and will seldom be used in speaking, only in writing. 不過 is a bit more complicated, it can be used the same as 可是, but can be used in another way to mean “merely/only”, for example “he was merely/only 19 when he graduated from university”. I’m pretty sure that’s it, if anyone has better explanations I’m sure they’ll say so.

[quote=“rowland”]bù guò

dàn shì

kě shì

Does it make any difference which one I use?[/quote]

For what it’s worth - at NTU they taught us ke shi - but my GF only ever uses dan shi…

That’s funny…years ago, when I had to take the entrance exam at NTNU, coming out of two years of Chinese in the US, our teacher warned us that although we had only ever seen “ke3shi4”, the placement test used “dan4shi4”, and that we should remember that because people in years ahead of us from that university had been getting placed way too low just because they didn’t know that one word!

however,
but,
though,
nevertheless,
anyway,
still,
even so,
on the other hand,

[quote=“hansioux”]however,
but,
though,
nevertheless,
anyway,
still,
even so,
on the other hand,
…[/quote]

moreover!

There’s this guy here that keeps throwing “without a doubt” willy-nilly into his sentences. Do they teach rhetoric here?

My dictionary gives buguò, which is interesting because a bisyllabic word with a neutral tone almost always has that neutral tone in the final syllable rather than the initial one.

[quote=“hansioux”]however,
but,
though,
nevertheless,
anyway,
still,
even so,
on the other hand,
…[/quote]

I had a prof who staunchly refused to allow “however” to be used synonymously with those others.
He steadfastly maintained that its only proper use was to reference an unknown or undefined method or course of action, like “whenever” references an unknown time, “who(m)ever” references an unknown person, “wherever” a place, and “whatever” a thing.

Lots of papers getting kicked back the first few weeks of his course, needless to say.

No. Have a look at some of the televised [strike]shoe-throwing sessions[/strike] debates in the legislature for definitive proof.

Seems to me that, while English uses these words to make logical distinctions, Chinese uses them differently. People just pick one at random as a conjunction. Hence the (English) essays liberally sprinkled with “moreovers” and suchlike, even where the word is unnecessary or makes no sense.

My theory is that Chinese doesn’t have punctuation marks, so they have ‘punctuation words’ instead. Periods and commas have only recently been borrowed from other languages. I mean, 5000 years of sodding civilisation and they haven’t even invented the inter-word space yet?

FWIW I think “不過” translates fairly exactly as “on the other hand…”.

[quote=“the chief”]

I had a prof who staunchly refused to allow “however” to be used synonymously with those others.
He steadfastly maintained that its only proper use was to reference an unknown or undefined method or course of action, like “whenever” references an unknown time, “who(m)ever” references an unknown person, “wherever” a place, and “whatever” a thing.

Lots of papers getting kicked back the first few weeks of his course, needless to say.[/quote]

like this kind of usage?

“we will meet the challenge head on, however difficult”

My theory is that Chinese doesn’t have punctuation marks, so they have ‘punctuation words’ instead. Periods and commas have only recently been borrowed from other languages. I mean, 5000 years of sodding civilisation and they haven’t even invented the inter-word space yet?

[/quote]

agree with other points, however, since each hanji is self-contained, there was no need for inter-word space. Since since there were punctuation words, there was no need for punctuation marks.

It’s my impression essay type rhetoric had no place in ancient China. They had other forms of formal communication. The essay format is wholly a western import which they still struggle with.

[quote=“hansioux”][quote=“the chief”]

I had a prof who staunchly refused to allow “however” to be used synonymously with those others.
He steadfastly maintained that its only proper use was to reference an unknown or undefined method or course of action, like “whenever” references an unknown time, “who(m)ever” references an unknown person, “wherever” a place, and “whatever” a thing.

Lots of papers getting kicked back the first few weeks of his course, needless to say.[/quote]

like this kind of usage?

“we will meet the challenge head on, however difficult”[/quote]

Yeah, like “However it was achieved, the result was appreciated”

Might have been true a few centuries ago (?) but it certainly isn’t now. A lot of words are made up of two characters. You could also argue that set phrases like ‘對不起’, and possibly 成語 (four-character phrases) are single words. I suppose if you’re used to it, it’s not a big deal, but I’m sure it takes longer than it should to get used to it.

There was certainly such a thing as the formal essay - it was basically a form of ritual suicide. One would write a public letter to criticize the emperor, whereupon one would be immediately executed. This might explain why it never evolved into a particularly high art form :wink: Personally I think the reason people struggle with western-style essays is that formal logic was never independently invented by Chinese philosophers (or if it was, it was ignored and/or lost); even today it’s considered an arcane foreign import that has some practical uses, but doesn’t really apply to the great Middle Kingdom. Without that basis, any essay is going to look like it’s written by a 10-year-old. Just look at the quality of debate on the death penalty currently doing the rounds.

[quote=“finley”]
Might have been true a few centuries ago (?) but it certainly isn’t now. A lot of words are made up of two characters. You could also argue that set phrases like ‘對不起’, and possibly 成語 (four-character phrases) are single words. I suppose if you’re used to it, it’s not a big deal, but I’m sure it takes longer than it should to get used to it.

There was certainly such a thing as the formal essay - it was basically a form of ritual suicide. One would write a public letter to criticize the emperor, whereupon one would be immediately executed. This might explain why it never evolved into a particularly high art form :wink: Personally I think the reason people struggle with western-style essays is that formal logic was never independently invented by Chinese philosophers (or if it was, it was ignored and/or lost); even today it’s considered an arcane foreign import that has some practical uses, but doesn’t really apply to the great Middle Kingdom. Without that basis, any essay is going to look like it’s written by a 10-year-old. Just look at the quality of debate on the death penalty currently doing the rounds.[/quote]

For awhile (Han until Tang), such formal essays have a set word count per sentence, either all sentences have equal length, or alternating in 6 and 4 characters between sentence pairs. Therefore there was no need for punctuation marks, as you would automatically know when a sentence ended.

It is true as Chinese adopts more and more non-Chinese grammar and phonetics punctuations are now necessary. I often wonder if Mandarin really counts as Chinese as all. It’s as much Chinese as Pidgin or Creo languages are their original language.