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I know how to use 和 to link one or more nouns or noun phrases, but in this sentence I don't understand what purpose does it serve at the beginning of the sentence?

和西方人过圣诞节差不多,这是一个全家团聚的节日。

(This sentence is from a text about 春节)

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Here the use of 和 and 差不多 is similar to the phrasing "Like how" in English.

"Like how Westerners celebrate Christmas, this [Chinese New Year] is a holiday when the entire family gets together."

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The best way to translate the 和 in this sentence is using "how".

The sentence roughly translates to "Spring festival is similar to how Westerners spend Christmas, this is a festival where the whole family gets together."

However, this is more of a contextual translation. 和 should be closer to "with" but it doesn't make exact sense to say Spring festival is similar to being with Westerners at Christmas...

Normally you would see something like this:

和西方人一起吃饭

Eating with Westerners

和西方人过圣诞节

Spend Christmas with Westerners

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Did you perhaps mean "Spring festival is similar to how Westerners celebrate Christmas, ..."? It is strange that I cannot find this meaning of 和 in any of my dictionaries! –  dr Hannibal Lecter Dec 13 '11 at 21:59
    
@drHannibalLecter - Sorry, I forgot to add the "spend" or "celebrate" to the sentence, I edited it just now. Thanks! See my notes below on it being an 'in context' translation. I notice this a lot with Chinese. You can't translate it character for character, you need to get the whole meaning. –  xiaohouzi79 Dec 13 '11 at 22:01
    
"The whole meaning" is tricky for beginners like me! :) Related to my other question here, can 和 be replaced with 跟 in your example sentences? –  dr Hannibal Lecter Dec 13 '11 at 22:07
    
Yes, example from a Yahoo article: 跟西方人学怎么浪漫 –  xiaohouzi79 Dec 13 '11 at 22:11
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A literal meaning of 和 is "with." But here, the context is not a literal with. It's more like "similar to." That could be "with" in a figurative sense.

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