Because in Chinese With 因为……所以

Reasons & Actions (因为...所以...) in Mandarin Chinese

Connectors are what linguists call “conjunctions.” The Chinese word for them is “连词 liáncí – ‘connect + word.’ They serve to connect separate thoughts and show how they are connected. Examples in English are words like “and,” “or,” “because,” etc. Chinese connectors are one of the most straightforward elements of the language to understand, so be sure not to overthink them too much :).

Because in Chinese With Yīnwèi……suǒyǐ

This grammar point will help you understand how to express reasons for actions in one sentence.

The Chinese word for “because” is “因为 yīnwèi,” which literally translates to ‘reason (因)’ ‘for (为).’ When using 因为 yīnwèi (because in Chinese) in this way, you establish a reason for an action in the first part of the sentence, and then in the second part of your sentence you declare “所以 suǒyǐ -‘ So'” followed by the action. 

因为 yīnwèi ‘Because’ + Reason, 所以 suǒyǐ ‘So’ + Action

Let’s look at some example sentences:

Sentence 1:

因为要迟到了,所以我走得很快。 – Level 16
Yīnwèi yào chídào le, suǒyǐ wǒ zǒu de hěn kuài.
Because I’m going to be late, I’m walking fast.

The reason the speaker is performing the action of “走得很快 zǒu dé hěn kuài – walking fast” is that he/she “要迟到了 yào chídào le – is going to be late.” 

Note that in English, it’s unnecessary to say “Because” and “So” in the same sentence. It sounds a bit odd to say, “Because I’m going to be late, so I’m walking fast,” but in Chinese, you’ll hear this all the time. 

Interestingly, in English, we’ll tend to repeat the subject “我 wǒ – I,” whereas in Chinese, it’s only necessary to say it once. It’s not wrong to say it twice, but you might sound a bit redundant to a native speaker’s ear.

There’s also another way to say the same thing by switching the order. Check this out:

我之所以走得很快,是因为要迟到了。
Wǒ zhī suǒyǐ zǒude hěn kuài, shì yīnwèi yào chídào le.

Here, we’ve reversed the order to put the action first and the reason second. Two notes about this:

1. If you do this, you must put “之 zhī” before “所以 suǒyǐ” and “是 shì” before “因为 yīnwèi.” “之 zhī” is a more formal character that serves the same function as “的 de” in that it indicated possession. Therefore when you say “我之所以 wǒ zhī suǒyǐ,” it’s as if you’re saying “My ‘so’ is…”

2. This “之所以…是因为 zhī suǒyǐ…shì yīnwèi” structure is slightly more formal, but as with all formal Chinese, it’s not “wrong” to use it when speaking or texting, but you’ll come across more seriously than if you use the spoken form. Let’s look at another example:

Because in Chinese – Sentence 2:

因为我晚上8点才下班,(所以)他们等不了我回家去吃饭。 – Level 18
Yīnwèi wǒ wǎnshàng 8 diǎn cái xiàbān, (suǒyǐ) tāmen děngbùliǎo wǒ huíjiā qù chīfàn.
Because I don’t get off work until 8, they can’t wait for me to come home to eat.

The reason that “they – 他们 tāmen” are “unable 不了 bùliǎo” to perform the action of “waiting for me to come home to eat – 等我回家去吃饭 děng wǒ huíjiā qù chīfàn” is that “I don’t get off work until 8 我晚上8点才下班 wǒ wǎnshàng 8 diǎn cái xiàbān.”

Here you’ll see that it’s possible to omit “所以 suǒyǐ” before the action if the reason established after “因为 yīnwèi (because in Chinese)” is clearly what instigated it.  

Remember, you could also say:

他们之所以等不了我回家去吃饭,是因为我晚上8点才下班。
Tāmen zhī suǒyǐ děngbùliǎo wǒ huíjiā qù chīfàn, shì yīnwèi wǒ wǎnshàng 8 diǎn cái xiàbān.

Sentence 3:

(因为)我家的钟坏了,所以我不知道现在是几点。 – Level 18
(Yīnwèi) wǒ jiā de zhōng huài le, suǒyǐ wǒ bùzhīdào xiànzài shì jǐdiǎn.
The clock in my house is broken, so I don’t know what time it is now. 

The reason that “I/me – 我 wǒ” “does not – 不 bù” perform the action of “knowing what time it is now 知道现在是几点 zhīdào xiànzài shì jǐdiǎn” is that “the clock in my house is broken 我家的钟坏了 wǒ jiā de zhōng huài le.” 

Note that it’s also possible to omit “因为 yīnwèi (because in Chinese)” before the reason is the action after “所以 suǒyǐ” is clearly the result of the previous context. 

You could also say:

我之所以不知道现在是几点,是因为我家的钟坏了。
Wǒ zhī suǒyǐ bù zhīdào xiànzài shì jǐdiǎn, shì yīnwèi wǒ jiā de zhōng huài le.

Keep this structure in mind as you continue to take in new input, and when you see it, ask yourself, ‘where is the reason and where is the action.” Keep it up!

Also, don’t forget there is no such thing as “learning” grammar, it is more about acquisition. You can read more about how to acquire Chinese grammar in a natural way in this post.

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Chinese Conjunctions
12 April , 2021
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