despite in chinese

95. Despite 虽然 in Mandarin Chinese

Podcast Duration: 01:08:17

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The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast focuses primarily on The Mandarin Blueprint Method online curriculum. Creators Luke Neale & Phil Crimmins answer questions and comments, discuss topics related to China and Mandarin learning, and have special guests.

95. Despite 虽然 in Mandarin Chinese

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One way to say “although” or “even though” in Chinese is to start a sentence with 虽然 suīrán. However, unlike in English, Chinese people will always add the equivalent of ‘but’ (“但是,” “但,” or “可是”) at the beginning of the second clause. 

One way to imagine “虽然 + Clause 1, 但是 + Clause 2” is to remember that Clause 1 sets up an expectation and Clause 2 shows how that expectation wasn’t met (either positively or negatively).

Here are some examples:

Sentence 1:

虽然我的房子不宽,但我有很多花草。 – Level 26
Suīrán wǒ de fángzi bù kuān, dàn wǒ yǒu hěnduō huācǎo.
Although my house isn’t big, I have a lot of flowers and plants.

You’ll note that the English translation doesn’t have any representation of “但,” and that’s because English assumes the context is clear enough without it. Chinese, however, requires adding it. 

Regarding this sentence, you can imagine a young man describing his apartment to a lady he’s keen on. He wants to set expectations (虽然我的房子不宽), but express that despite what one might think of a small apartment, he still has excellent taste in decoration (但我有很多花草). 

Sentence 2:

虽然今天下雪了,但是我还是要上学。 – Level 33
Suīrán jīntiān xiàxuě le, dànshì wǒ háishì yào shàngxué.
Even though it snowed today, we still had to go to school.

The expectation is that if it snows, the school will be closed. The speaker uses 虽然 because that expectation was NOT met.  

This sentence illustrates the simplicity of Chinese grammar. For example, suppose you were living in Guangdong 广东 Province in the south where it rarely snows, the sentence would likely be “因为今天下雪了,所以我不要上学。 “Instead of “虽然…, 但是…” you have “因为…, 所以…,” and the meaning changes significantly to match the different context.

Sentence 3:

花仙子是住在花里的人,虽然她们和你的手差不多大,但她们能做很多你做不到的事! – Level 33
Huāxiānzǐ shì zhù zài huā lǐ de rén, suīrán tāmen hé nǐ de shǒu chàbùduō dà, dàn tāmen néng zuò hěnduō nǐ zuòbùdào de shì.
Flower fairies live among flowers, even though they are only as big as your hand, they can do lots of things you can’t.

One might imagine that if a fairy (花仙子) were only the size of your hand (和你的手差不多大) that it would not be more powerful than you are. It’s that expectation that influences the speaker to use 虽然, because although you have that expectation, (but) fairies can do many things that you can’t (她们能做很多你做不到的事). 

5:21 Comments & Emails

Jason Pon by Community

Hi all! Quick question to see how other people review Movie Review cards.

I deem a successful review for myself being if I can recall the pronunciation, keyword and write the character. If I can achieve this without recreating the entire story in my head, I am okay with that and I move on. For example, some newly learned characters I may be able to recognize and recall rather fast without having to recreate the entire movie, which may result in my script, props, actors or set (any combination thereof) not being explicitly recalled in my imagination. 

Do others review in a similar way or do you actually think through the entire script even if you may already get the character/meaning rather easily. Would there be any caution against reviewing characters without a full script review? Or is it expected for movies to eventually take a backseat and let instant visual recognition take over?

Thanks in advance! 


Christopher Weeks by Community

Good evening from Xiamen, China.

I have just purchased the Pronunciation Mastery course, and am a potential future subscriber to the Mandarin Blueprint Method too.

I came across The Mandarin Blueprint when researching some different websites and ways of learning Chinese back in April of this year. 

I first started learning Chinese in 2013 while working as an ESL teacher in Fuzhou as a free class run by a teaching assistant at our school. Over the next 3 years, I did a lot of self study mainly using Memrise (Over 15 million points!), HSK past papers (HSK 1-3) and by the time I left in 2016, my reading was adequate due to my method of study, but I was still lacking in speaking, listening and writing (Although typing was fine).

I moved across to Taipei, and then realized I had do everything I had done before, but now in Traditional. Back to Memrise it was for a bit. Then, Chinese fell away from my life for a bit as I was so busy with work, but I did manage a few months of classes using the A Course in Contemporary Chinese series for a few hours each week. However again, I lost some passion for the language after hitting a wall.

Last year, I returned to Fuzhou (time for Simplified again!) and realized I had forgotten most things. I self completed HSK1 and HSK2 text books in my spare time and managed a few conversations, but could never find an in person tutor which fit my timetable.

Fast forward to 2020, and now I am in Xiamen. I have set myself the goal of starting HSK4, by the end of 2020. I would say I am quick at reading the HSK1-HSK3 vocabulary and tried a few different sites and methods in April, to experience a few different learning styles. This is how I discovered The Mandarin Blueprint website. Now I have joined, I am interested to see the impact of the materials on my learning journey.

One thing, I have never had is ‘community’ or support in my Chinese journey, as it has been quite a solo effort, with many of my colleagues loving living in China, but with little effort by themselves in learning about the culture and the language. Now, I have rediscovered the passion for learning Chinese again, I have realized the importance of community, and it  looks like Luke and Phil are encouraging this with their approach.

Looking forward to browsing and hopefully participating over the coming months.


Neil Rogers on (BONUS) Principle vs. Reality in Mandarin

Wow, Luke, Phil, and Anny I’m hooked.

I actually feel confident with this material that I can learn
Standard Mandarin. I’m not going to rush pronunciation. I really
like the bite-size videos and being able to download the bonus
material. I am planning on going to Shanghai and Ningbo in
October 2021 to visit friends.


Natalia Kovalenko on ANKI DECKS INSIDE – Now Just LOOK at how SOLID that Foundation Is!

End of Level 36 already? Wow, that was fast! Just under 3
What a great ride, having a lot of fun all the way, the best
course I’ve ever found, you both are amazing for putting this
together. I can’t believe I’m reading fairy tales in Chinese.


Joseph Glover on Simple Final U (WU): Introduction with 酷 kù & 五 wǔ

I’m beginning to see how inferior all the other courses I have
taken are to Mandarin Blueprint; I have literally thrown away my
life studying other courses.


Julie Hentschel Lund on Mandarin Syllables Introduction

I have always had a problem with pronunciation – especially the
initials z, c and r. As a Danish speaker, we don’t roll our R’s
like in Sweden or Spain, so that has always been my worst enemy.
Now, the Chinese R doesn’t sound the same as the rolled one of
those countries, but it still has a position I’m not used to. So
far, I’m confident that this course is one of the best out there.
Also the fact that you have included both female and male voices,
shows that you’re considerate of both genders. This fact is often
neglected. I’ve used a lot of platforms to learn Chinese, but
this is the first one to do so. When I also watch Chinese dramas,
the pitch level is also higher for females than males – despite
the tones! I just simply cannot wait to see how my progress will
be in just a month!


Fiona Toy on Nasal Final ING (YING): 电影 diànyǐng,明天 míngtiān

I am curious if replying “bu yào” is another potential answer to
the first question – and if yes, would that be a harsher/more
definite response? Would it imply an “I don’t want to go at all,
don’t ask me again” type of response?


Jason Pon on MAKE A MOVIE 化

I notice that the stroke order for the ‘7’ component here is
different from the character for qi. Here, the slanted line is
drawn top right to bottom left. In Qi, it is drawn bottom left to
top right. Any reason why?


Gareth Edwards on BONUS: This Secret Will Put You LIGHT YEARS Ahead in Chinese

This is an interesting video and it makes sense. Would you not
say that trying to speak as much as possible is not helpful? A
friend of mine who speaks fluently really recommended I go out
and just speak as much as I can to not be nervous and in spite of
errors and so on. Any thoughts? Your video makes sense though.


Darren Reger on Make a Movie 好

Sometimes you learn interesting things about the culture at the
time of the character creation.
I guess at the time when the characters were created, Woman +
Baby = Good


Nacho En on It’s a Word! 再

Hey Luke and Phil. I’m sorry but I don’t really understand the
last sentence “I’ll come to see him first then go.” Where is
suppoused to be the “then” word? Or how can I understand it
better? Thank you very much!!



Julie Hentschel Lund on Compound Final AO: 知道 zhīdào,我知道 wǒ zhīdào,知道了 zhīdào le,住 zhù

I have a question about 3rd tone and 4th tone: whenever I say
the 4th tone it almost always ends down at the “zombie” level,
like with the 3rd tone. It isn’t as strong as the 3rd tone, but I
can hear it in the end. Is it right to say that the half 3rd tone
is “deeper” than the 4th tone, and that it shouldn’t “touch” the
zombie level?


Julie Hentschel Lund on Pick a Prop for 丨- Gandalf’s Staff!

So far I find this soo much more complicated than just
remembering the character, and what each component literally
means. I hope this method will be useful for me in the future
though :/


Barry Hill on MAKE A MOVIE 但

I am really enjoying this course, but some of the movies don’t
stick and I cant remember the Chinese or the English word. Do I
need to slow down? I understand the method and have written down
all my movies so I can refer back to them. I also keep a list of
actors and sets. Every time I get a mental block after having a
go I go back and read the movie again and think about the
connection, but some are not sticking. What do you suggest?


Rebecca Wheble on 三只小猪 The Three Little Pigs – Paragraph 2 第二段

What does this phrase mean? “还是吓得不轻” I can’t come up with a
sensible meaning. It’s the 轻 that doesn’t make sense to me.


Rick Angleland on Make a Movie 曼

I was surprised to think there could be a hanzi meaning
Manhattan! So I looked it up and found it’s mostly used for the
sound of “man” in foreign words, but its original meanings
include long; vast; handsome. It is also used as a phonetic
component, but I could only find a very few hanzi using it as


Helen limon on Preview: The Mandarin Blueprint Method

Completed this a while back but just been doing my Anki deck and remembered to ask you about Xiaojie – miss/prostitute – is it really that interchangeable in standard Mandarin?


William Beeman on Casting Call er 12/55

One of my mentors explained to me that learning is like pouring
liquid into a small funnel. You can’t pour too fast or the funnel
will overflow. You have to let the liquid in the funnel flow
through the small hole/tube at the bottom before pouring more in.
I find that cramming too much material in at once is not
productive. Your mind can’t absorb a ton of material all at once.
Rest, and slow but regular pacing has always been the key for me.


Beth Perazzo on It’s a Word! 少

What does the word bei (blanket/quilt) have to do with this
sentence? Am I missing a meaning?



Rick Angleland on It’s a Word! 母

The translation given is: Is this a female horse?
but isn’t it asking “Is this a mother horse?”?
If so, could one also say 这是妈马吗?

ANSWER: When 母 means “mother,” it’s only a morpheme, most commonly in the words 母亲 mǔqīn – ‘mother’ and 父母 fùmǔ – ‘parents.’ It’s only a word by itself when it means “female (of animals).” I can’t seem to find the technical term for a female horse that has given birth in Chinese, but if you were to ask “Is this a mother horse?” you might say “这匹母马生过驹子吗?” 驹子 jūzi – foal, young horse”


Heath Campbell on It’s a Word! 住

Now I get 呢!It’s adding a polite tone to non yes or no
questions. Is that right?


Rick Angleland on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 看书

How do 看书 and 认字 differ in meaning? Is 看书 the act of reading,
and 认字 the ability to read?


Jiggy-Jay Diderich on It’s a Word! 记

does 记不住 in 儿子总是记不住我说的话 have a meaning on it’s own ? I am a bit confused by the 住 does it mean to firmly forget something?


Rick Angleland on It’s a Word! 又

Re 鱼又活了过来。
Is 过来 serving a grammatical purpose here, or did the fish
literally come over?
鱼又活了。would seem to be enough to express “The fish is alive
Or is it sort of saying “The fish came alive again!”

47:47 Movies! 

This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters.

Chad Ressler on Make a Movie 爱

Location: My Old Trailer (Backyard)
Actor: Jackie Chan
Props: Talons, Crown, Best friend Aaron

My wife and I are hanging out with my best friend Aaron and his
wife Haley in the backyard of my old trailer. Jackie Chan is
there as he has been tutoring me in Chinese. It is Aaron and
Haley’s anniversary and Jackie has prepared something special. As
we are all sitting there, Jackie has two trained birds of prey
with crowns in their talons fly in and lower a crown down on each
of their heads as they are crowned king and queen for their
special day. In each of the crowns, the word LOVE is bedazzled
with multi-color rhinestones. Once Jackie’s ceremony is complete,
they dance the night away wearing their crowns.


Mason Royal on Make a Movie 她

Tracy Morgan (acting like Tracy Jordan) is outside the entrance
to my -a set. He’s wearing red lipstick (女) and eating french
fries (也).

“What are you doing Tracy?” I ask him

“I wanted to look like HER!” He says while pointing to a
billboard advertisement of a woman with red lipstick eating
french fries.


Mason Royal on Make a Movie 六

Jennifer Lawrence walks in to the bathroom of my -ou set. She
sees a beret (亠) with a 6 written on it.

“Interesting…” She thinks. She puts it on and then looks at
herself in the mirror. Immediately animal legs (八) grow out of
her body.

“Damn it! 6! 6 limbs! I should have known.” She yells out in

I usually use an 8 ball for 八, but this one came to me easy and
representing 6 while using an 8 ball sounds tedious.


Georg Lohrer on Make a Movie 些

Just as Angelique Kerber arrives in front of my e-set, a horde
of porcupines passes. SOME of them stop and snuffle nosily. But
there the Weasley-twins arrive. They have already caught A FEW of
the porcupines, but not yet all.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 改

Gabriel is sitting in the chair at the hair salon, hoping that
the hairdresser can ALTER his appearance. She looks horrified,
because instead of hair, Gabe has snakes slithering on his head.
Gabe explains that the only way he can get them to ALTER their
slithering is to hypnotize them with a rhythmic drumbeat. The
hairdresser brings him the drum that she just happens to have
behind the counter, and as Gabe quiets the snakes with his
playing, the hairdresser begins removing them one by one. Gabe,
his appearance completely ALTERED, gives the hairdresser a huge
tip and leaves the salon.


Rebecca Wheble on Make a Movie 侯

There is a fancy dress party taking place in the kitchen of my
-ou set. Hugh Jackman is drunk and being a rabid Australian
republican, when he spies Dwayne Johnson (man prop) dressed as a
nobleman, he throws a razor blade and dart at Dwayne in anger at
the display of monarchical privilege. Dwayne grabs a horse head
off the wall to save himself and the razor and then dart thud
into the taxidermy.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 古

Gandalf is in the livingroom of my childhood home. He is holding
a large, ANCIENT cross and telling me all about its interesting
ANCIENT history. He is trying to point out the interesting
ANCIENT runes and symbols that are present on the cross, but the
Rolling Stones mouth has invited his annoying self to the
lecture, and can’t shut up. It doesn’t know anything about the
history of this artifact, but doesn’t stop talking anyway.
Finally, Gandalf loses all patient and shoves the cross right in
the mouth to shut him up. Gandalf continues, “As I was saying,
the ANCIENT symbols on the cross here and here signify…..


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 做

Zeus is in the backyard of the Oval, and he and The Rock have
something important TO DO. They must pull Excalibur out of the
stone. The crowd is quiet, and the only sound is a gentle
drumbeat, to help the heroes focus, and to build suspense. Zeus
tries first. He grabs the handle and pulls. No luck. Then The
Rock gives it a shot. No luck. What are they going TO DO? They
confer quietly together, and seem to come up with a plan. They
walk confidently towards the sword. The crowd hushes, the drum
beats. Zeus grabs one side, and The Rock grabs the other side.
1…2…3…Did the DO it? Yes! They DID it!


Mason Royal on Make a Movie 者

Moses is in my classroom at the “e” school where I work. The sun is streaming in the windows and making it difficult for him to focus on the lecture he is giving the students on plagues. George the custodian comes in with his toolbelt and can-DO attitude. When he notices Moses’ discomfort, he quickly marches over and adjusts the blinds so that the sun is no longer in Moses’ eyes. Moses gratefully shakes George’s hand. George shrugs his shoulders, points to himself, and explains that as the custodian, it is his job to be the DO-ER in the school, to get things done.


Simoné Popadopolis on Make a Movie 同

Terry (t) crews is in the kitchen of our old flat in Amsterdam
(ong). Naturally he is topless and covered in baby oil doing that
pectoral flex thing he does. He is dancing around the staff,
practising a dance routine with my sister to Village Peoples
YMCA, when he spots me and says “checkout our new routine”.

Dancing ensues.

I distinctly remember how impressive their synchronicity is. Just
as the chorus begins to peak, Terry runs out the back of the
kitchen and returns wearing a yellow hard hat driving a forklift.
He drives directly into the stereo and it blows up. There is a
short silence, before my sister turns around and shouts “YOU


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 都

Donald Trump and Nike are at the entrance of my “ou” location.
Nike is indicating with an outstretched arm that she would like
to enter the building, but there is a brick wall in the way.
Donald points to the wall and explains how he has TOTALLY blocked
the entrance with his TOTALLY amazing wall so that unwelcome
guests will TOTALLY be blocked from entering. Nike shakes her
head, skirts around the end of the wall, and enters the building,
TOTALLY ignoring Donald’s stupid wall.


Alex Sumray on Make a Movie 短

David brent is in the lounge of my -an set.

He’s taking Mr Bean (豆) to have his haircut.

A native American chief (矢) is the barber.

‘Ye, short back and sides please fella.’

Mr Bean is annoyed.
‘Er, don’t be short with me young man!’.

The chief gestures different fingers, asking Brent what number
razor to use.

Brent puts one finger up…very short.

Cut to a shaven headed Mr.Bean.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 老

Luke from Mandarin Blueprint comes into the livingroom of my
“ao” location. He sees Moses sitting in the armchair, with a long
grey beard and wrinkles, obviously an ELDERLY man. Luke asks
Moses if he is hungry and Moses replies that as a matter of fact,
he is quite hungry. Luke puts a bowl and spoon beside Moses on
the table and ladles in some hot, nourishing soup. Once Moses
thanks him and begins eating, Luke asks him if he has ever
thought about learning Chinese, and assuring him that no one is
too ELDERLY to learn a new language.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 孝

Sharon goes into the bathroom to see Moses’ child combing his
long hair while Moses tells educational stories. The child is
obedient and listens carefully, a paragon of FILIAL PIETY.


Della Fuller on Make a Movie 教

Jessica is in the backyard of my “ao” location. She is sitting
beside Lisa Simpson, with two drums in front of them. Jessica is
TEACHING Lisa basic rhythm and beats. She creates a rhythm on her
drum, and Lisa imitates it on her drum. The rhythms get more and
more complicated, and Lisa is laughing in delight. She hugs
Jessica, and thanks her for TEACHING her to play the drums.


Darren Reger on Make a Movie 如

Rick from Rick and Morty is in the kitchen of my childhood home
and he sees the rolling stones mouth. He wants to ask it out, so
he gets dressed in his finest lingerie. He walks over and starts
to ask it out when it says “AS IF!” like the quote from Alicia
Silverstone in the movie clueless. He keeps asking it and it
keeps saying “AS IF!” to him.

That quote was so iconic to me growing up. It’s perfect for a
situation where the outcome is totally unrealistic. AS IF anyone
would want to date Rick in lingerie.


Daan Helsloot on Make a Movie 言

Rolling stones mouth wearing top hat flies into the kitchen of
my -AN set where he sees twin -YI actresses reading hentai/manga
(In scene zoom in on dirty covers). The mouth tips his hat and
says “I see you two are men of culture as well. Look at all this
splendid LITERATURE”.


Natalia Kovalenko on Make a Movie 配

Actor: my friend Pablo
Location: my nEIghbor’s bathroom (-ei)
Props: A bottle of Korean soju and a snake eating itself

Pablo is in my -ei location when he suddenly sees a snake eating
its own tail. He’s startled by the snake’s dining choices but
stays cool, telling the snake that he’s famous for being able to
MATCH a drink to any food. He then takes out a bottle of Korean
soju, opens it and holds it to the snakes mouth, saying “pei!”
(“drink!” in Russian – a perfect phonetic MATCH there, if I say
so myself). Snake drinks and admits that the taste of its tail
and soju perfectly MATCH each other.

7 July, 2020