How to say not only in mandarin

98. Expressing “not only…but also” in Mandarin

Podcast Duration: 00:47:31

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98. Expressing "not only...but also" in Mandarin

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0:36 GW-Connector-Not-Only-But-Also-1-连词-不但…而且… & GW-Connector-Not-Only-But-Also-2-连词-不仅……而且/也/还

Many times when you are trying to make a point, you’ll want to emphasize that there is more than one reason that helps illustrate your perspective. In these cases, you’ll want to use a “Not only…, but also…” structure.


Subject + 不但 -or- 不仅 + Element 1, 而且 + Element 2

Let’s take a look at some example sentences to see the breakdown:

Sentence 1:

有一天,他不但病了,而且病得很重。 – Level 33
Yǒuyītiān, tā bùdàn bìng le, érqiě bìng de hěn zhòng.
One day, he not only fell ill, but it was also severe. 

Here we see that the subject is “他,” and NOT ONLY (不但) has he ‘fallen ill’ (Element 1), BUT ALSO (而且) it’s ‘quite serious’ (Element 2).

Note that because there is only one subject, “他” gets placed before “不但” (more on this later).

Sentence 2:

没想到,花不但没有长出来,而且都死了。 – Level 36
Méi xiǎng dào, huā bùdàn méiyǒu zhǎng chūlái, érqiě dōu sǐ le.
To his surprise, the flowers not only didn’t bloom but also all died.

In this sentence, the expectation is that the flowers (花) will bloom. Because of that expectation, the “不但…, 而且…” structure plays the role of emphasizing the result that is counter to the expectation. 

How might one express that their expectation wasn’t met? NOT ONLY (不但) ‘didn’t bloom’ (Element 1), BUT ALSO (而且) ‘all died’ (Element 2).

Sentence 3:

他不但爱读书,而且喜欢唱歌。 – Level 36
Tā bùdàn ài dúshū, érqiě xǐhuān chànggē.
He not only loves reading but also enjoys singing.

In this sentence, you could imagine a mother trying to convince her daughter that “他” is an excellent potential romantic partner. What elements could illustrate her point? Well, NOT ONLY (不但) does he ‘love to read’ (Element 1), BUT ALSO (而且) ‘enjoys singing’ (Element 2). Gee, what’s not to like?

Multiple Subjects

There was only one subject in all of the first three subjects. However, it’s possible to use the “不但/不仅…, 而且…” structure with two subjects. When using two different subjects, you need to place one after 不但 and the other after 而且. 


不但 + Subject 1 + Phrase, 而且 + Subject 2 + Phrase

Sentence 4:

Bùdàn wǒ xǐhuān zài jiā zuòfàn, érqiě wǒ de péngyǒumen dōu xǐhuān zài jiā zuòfàn.
Not only do I like cooking at home, my friends all like it too.

In this structure, you’ll notice that instead of making two points about one subject, you’re making the same point about two subjects. NOT ONLY (不但) does ‘我’ (Subject 1) ‘like cooking at home,’ BUT ALSO (而且) ‘我的朋友们’ (Subject 2) ‘like cooking at home.’

不但 vs. 不仅

不但 & 不仅 bùjǐn mean the same thing (‘not only’), but 不仅 will often be paired with “也” or “还” instead of 而且 (although pairing with 而且 is still okay). Here’s an example.

Sentence 5:

这不仅是他的问题,也是我的问题。 – Level 15
Zhè bùjǐn shì tā de wèntí, yě shì wǒ de wèntí.
This isn’t only his problem; it’s also my problem.

Who does the problem belong to? It might seem that it’s only 他, but no, NOT ONLY (不仅) is this ‘his problem,’ BUT ALSO (也) is ‘my problem.’ 

Note: If you want, you can also say ‘不仅仅’ instead of ‘不仅.’

Sentence 6:

他们不仅工作日在工作,连休息日也会工作。 – Level 28
Tāmen bùjǐn gōngzuòrì zài gōngzuò, lián xiūxīrì yě huì gōngzuò.
They not only work weekdays but even weekends as well.

This last example combines two grammar points to really emphasize the speaker’s feelings. NOT ONLY (不仅) do they work on weekdays, BUT EVEN (连) on weekends they ALSO (也) will work. We’ll discuss this more in a future article, but if you want to express surprise about an element of a statement, you can say “连 + Subject, 也/都 + Verb Phrase.” 

Keep a lookout for this structure, and focus on reading as many of these sentences as possible. Only use the grammar rule to guide you towards further comprehensible input. 加油!

10:27 Comments & Emails

Jim Awofadeju by Email

Are there any differences between learning Mandarin to “survive” (survival Mandarin) and learning Mandarin to acquire it? I feel like when a person learns Mandarin to “survive” they are not really emotionally or intellectually invested in the task and putting
in the effort. However, when someone is learning Mandarin to acquire it, they stick with it day in and day out. They show up to learn Mandarin every day or on a regular basis. That’s what I’m doing because I’m interested in learning about Chinese people. We
all interact with or use language every day through reading, writing/typing, listening, and speaking. Thus, every day can be a day to learn Mandarin. It certainly has been for me as of late. The more you learn, the more you know, the more you will understand,
and the more you will eventually be able to independently use yourself. 

Mandarin is not a foreign language for me. It is a familiar language. I am familiar with Mandarin, but am not fluent with a high level of command.

Jim Awofadeju


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