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How Do You Say ‘And’ in Chinese?

One common mistake that a lot of beginner Chinese learners make is how to say ‘and’ in Chinese.

It’s natural, when you’re trying to speak Chinese, to use your native language as a point of comparison and to try to ‘translate’ what you’re trying to say into Chinese.

However, because there are so many differences between the two languages, this can often cause problems, and ‘and’ is just one of those words that can trip you up if you treat it the same way as in English, and the result is often that dreaded ‘foreigner Chinese’, where you sound very unnatural because you’re not putting words together correctly.

There are different ways to express ‘and’ in Chinese, or to connect two different parts of a sentence together, depending on the situation.

In this post, I’ll explain some of the most common ones.

Connecting two nouns together

If you want to connect together two nouns, then you can use 和 hé to mean ‘and’.

For example:

wǒ xǐhuan píngguǒ hé xiāngjiāo
I like apples and bananas

Both ‘apples’ and ‘bananas’ are nouns. The word order here is exactly the same as the English sentence, and 苹果 and 香蕉 simply mean ‘apples’ and ‘bananas’, there’s no distinction between singular and plural here.

Another character than can come between two nouns and mean ‘and’ is 跟 gēn, which literally means ‘with’.

For example:

píngguǒ gēn xiāngjiāo 
dōu shì shuǐguǒ
Apples and bananas 
are both fruits

Here, 都 means ‘both’, so the word order is ‘apples and bananas both are fruits’.

Connecting two verb phrases together

Here is an example of a common mistake that an English speaker learning Chinese might say.

wǒ xǐhuan kànshū 
hé xǐhuan guàngjiē
I like reading and I like shopping

In this situation, you can’t use 和 to connect the two parts of the sentence together because the two parts are both verb phrases.

Instead, you could use 也 yě, which literally means ‘also’.

Here’s how you could say it.

我喜欢看书, 也喜欢逛街
wǒ xǐhuan kànshū, 
yě xǐhuan guàngjiē
I like reading and I like shopping

Or, you could also say:

wǒ xǐhuan kànshū hé guàngjiē
I like reading and shopping

Here the verbs are not in full phrases, so 和 is acceptable, but once you have 和 ‘and’ and 喜欢 ‘like’ together, you know you’re making a mistake.

Using 而且 érqiě (furthermore)

Another way that you can say ‘and’ when connecting two phrases with verbs in them is by translating ‘and’ as 而且 érqiě, which literally means something like ‘furthermore’.

For example:

他爱弹钢琴, 而且他很会弹
tā ài tán gāngqín, érqiě tā hěn huì tán
He loves playing the piano, 
and he is very good at it.

Common mistake – using 和 not 而且

Here’s another common mistake among Chinese learners.

wǒ xǐhuan zhōngguó
hé wǒ xiǎng qù nàbiān liúxué

In this case, the person is trying to say ‘I like China, and I want to study (abroad) there’, but they have just translated ‘and’ as 和 hé and used it to connect the two parts of the sentence. 

We can correct this sentence by using 而且 instead of 和, because the two parts of the sentence are both ‘full phrases’, so it would be:

wǒ xǐhuan zhōngguó, érqiě wǒ xiǎng qù nàbiān liúxué

I like China, and I want to study (abroad) there.

Sometimes you can miss out the ‘and’ in Chinese

Sometimes, Chinese doesn’t even need a word for ‘and’ like English does, and you can simply split up the two parts of the sentence you want to connect together and say them separately.

So, to take the same example, we could say:

wǒ xǐhuan zhōngguó, wǒ xiǎng qù nàbiān liúxué

I like China, (and) I want to study (abroad) there.

There is no word for ‘and’, and we can use a comma or a full stop to divide up the two parts of the sentence. If you were saying the sentence out loud, you would pause in between the two parts, to make the meaning clear.

As you continue to listen to Chinese, you can pick up on how native speakers connect different parts of what they are saying together. When do they use 和, 也 or 而且, and when do they use another phrase or simply pause.

If you are also learning to read Chinese, you can also pay attention to how different parts of a sentence are connected together. Analysing and applying what you have found to the way you speak Chinese is the key to avoiding this very ‘foreign sounding’ mistake!

  • AndyJM

    Very useful indeed; this is something I had begun to notice, but your explanation cleared up any questions I might have had.

  • Judah Lynn

    Excellent as always Chris!

  • Maryline Lengert

    Hi Chris, thanks a lot for the article. I have a question: when would you use 与?

    • Hi Maryline, you’re welcome! 与 also normally connects two nouns or concepts of equal weighting, but it’s much more formal, so you don’t hear it so much in speech. It can also indicate two contrasting things, like 天与地 (heaven and earth).

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  • Hans Dunkelberg

    The greatest thing I so far have noticed about Mr. Parker is that he very lively traces how the typical Mandarin-learner will proceed – and make mistakes -, coming towards the victim with appreciative explanations that are as natural as if he was talking to you, within one and the same room. In the case on hand, I think the affair could still be improved, a little, by an addition of a short overview at its top, to the effect that 和 may connect equivalents to nouns or gerunds, 也 inflected verbs, and 而且 phrases.

    Concerning the last paragraph on that possibility to leave out an ‘and’, in Chinese, it seems to me (who has not grown up with a lot of English) that you always should also be able to omit an ‘and’ in English, between separate phrases. In cases of an accordingly close connection of the content, it should always be possible to use a semicolon or a full stop, in English.

    • Yes – I’ve documented my own learning process and I’ve showed people how I got there, and I also provide these lessons to help people with specific language points. Many thanks for your feedback!