Take the 2-minute tour ×
Chinese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Chinese language. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have only been studying a short while in spare time but have seen quite a few simple sentences in which 而 precedes the verb. Are there any basic ideas about the structure of such sentences? Places where this is required, recommended? What really is the meaning of 而 in such a sentence?

My notes aren't in front of me but I will supplement this later with an example if I can find one and the question is too broad. If it helps, I am only concerned with very simple sentences of this type.

Edit: (I will replace the toneless Pinyin time allowing, meanwhile I am sure the translations will take care of any ambiguity.)

  1. Ta ying wo de qing qiu er lai. (He came at my request.)

  2. ...dui mian er zuo...(sitting opposite each other)

  3. ...bu gao er qu...(leaving without announcing)

  4. ...yi dai er guo... (mention in passing)

  5. ...yan bi er guo ...(hold one's nose in passing, i.e. look down on)

I will look at the answers as soon as possible. My sense is that 'er' functions as a marker of the infinitive and maybe gives a sense of the manner in which the verb is being done or the reason for it. Thanks.

share|improve this question
    
Hi @daniel, try give some example phrase/sentences that you come across, 而 can bring up different meanings in difference context. –  congliu Aug 21 '13 at 3:43
    
In modern Chinese, usually 而 before a verb means "but" or "moreover" (it can have the opposite meanings). So context is important. –  Stan Aug 21 '13 at 4:14
    
@congliu: Yes I will look for a good example today and add it to the question. Thank you. –  daniel Aug 21 '13 at 9:36

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

My go-to is usually 百度 Bai Du:

It means: but (not);yet (not);and;as well as;

Out of all of the examples there, I only found a couple where it precedes the verb:

我愿意为什么**而** [VERB: 牺牲] 呢?
What am I willing to sacrifice?

你原是为永恒**而** [VERB: 造]。
You were made to last forever.

而 here, as you can see from the translation, can mean "to" as an infinitive (precedes verb).

However, you'll most often see it used as a coordinator/conjunction...

革命是广泛**而**自发的。
The revolution is broad and spontaneous.

Definitely check out that Bai Du link above... You'll see 而 is also used a lot in conjunction with other words to actually mean many different things... Here's some more examples:

而。。。却 : And...Yet

这些话除了伤痛什么也不能带来 **而** 我们 **却** 乞求它。
Those words bring nothing but pain and yet we beg for it.

而。。。,是为了 : I did [x], so that [y]

而我看这些书,是为了让你不必再去看。
I read these books so that you don't have to.
share|improve this answer
    
Nice learning approach! 又如 孔氏 論語 學而 子曰 學而時習之 不亦說乎 有朋自遠方來 不亦樂乎 人不知 而不慍 不亦君子乎 「學而時習之」中 「而」字當作繫聯之意 可有遞進之感 然「人不知 而不慍」中 「而」當講反襯 對立之意 –  congliu Aug 21 '13 at 14:28
    
@congliu Not everyone on Chinese SE can fluently read Chinese. Please provide an English translation or explanation when you post Chinese text. Thank you –  Growler Aug 21 '13 at 14:31
    
On @Growler's request: "So let's look at another example, from a famous text 論語 written by students of 孔氏 aka Confucius (551–479 BC), which goes like this: 子曰 學而時習之 不亦說乎 有朋自遠方來 不亦樂乎 人不知 而不慍 不亦君子乎. The first 而, in '學而時習之' (xue2 er2 shi2 xi2 zhi1, which means 'learn something and, in the meanwhile, you go over once in a while') shows us 而 with a sense of 'connection', though a little increase here, because you learn it, good, and going over it, em, even nicer. –  congliu Aug 21 '13 at 15:05
    
In the second instance, in '人不知 而不慍' (ren2 bu4 zhi1 er2 bu2 yun4, which means that 'others people offend you because that they did not know you well, but you keep it very gentle, didn't get mad about them') so here '而' gives a sense of U-turn" My previous comment gets locked so that I started up new and split it up because of word count limit. –  congliu Aug 21 '13 at 15:06
    
@daniel no problem. If this answers your question, please click the "accept" button –  Growler Aug 22 '13 at 0:46

Tried to figure out what you mean:

  1. 他應我的請求而來

    Ta1 ying2 wo3 de0 qing3 qiu2 er2 lai2 (He came at my request.)

  2. ...對面而坐...

    ...dui4 mian4 er2 zuo4...(sitting opposite each other)

  3. ...不告而去...

    ...bu2 gao4 er2 qu4...(French leave)

  4. ...一帶而過...

    ...yi2 dai4 er2 guo4... (skimming)

  5. ...掩鼻而過...

    ...yan3 bi2 er2 guo4...(hold one's nose and leave)

而 gives us a sense of 韻律, without it, these sentences would become a little blunt, though still possible to be understood.

又如 孔氏 論語 學而 子曰 學而時習之 不亦說乎 有朋自遠方來 不亦樂乎 人不知 而不慍 不亦君子乎 「學而時習之」中 「而」字當作繫聯之意 可有遞進之感 然「人不知 而不慍」中 「而」當講反襯 對立之意

Translation:

So let's look at another example, from a famous text 論語 written by students of 孔氏 aka Confucius (551–479 BC), which goes like this: 子曰 學而時習之 不亦說乎 有朋自遠方來 不亦樂乎 人不知 而不慍 不亦君子乎. The first 而, in '學而時習之' (xue2 er2 shi2 xi2 zhi1, which means 'learn something and, in the meanwhile, you go over once in a while') shows us 而 with a sense of 'connection', though a little increase here, because you learn it, good, and going over it, em, even nicer.

In the second instance, in '人不知 而不慍' (ren2 bu4 zhi1 er2 bu2 yun4, which means that 'others people offend you because that they did not know you well, but you keep it very gentle, didn't get mad about them') so here '而' gives a sense of U-turn.


Update - Explanation in a Japanese Dictionary

Through the eyes from some Japanese, hope it'll help foreigners understand 而 better. Here I translate the parts that are related to our question:

[接] = conjuction

  1. (Original Japanese Explanation) 並列関係を表わす = (My English Translation) Gives a plain list

    (Example) 真實而感人

    (Pinyin) zhēn shí ér gǎn rén

    (Pinyin, another version) zhen1 shi2 er2 gan3 ren2

    (注音)ㄓㄣ ㄕˊ ㄦˊ ㄍㄢˇ ㄖㄣˊ

    (Original Japanese Translation) 真実にして感動的 = (My English Translation) Real. Touching.

    Note: 真實, real, adjective. 感人, moving, touching, adjective.

  2. 相反する関係を表わす = Juxtapose two things with opposite meaning

    艷而不俗

    yàn ér bù sú

    yan4 er2 bu4 su2

    ㄧㄢˋ ㄦˊ ㄅㄨˋ ㄙㄨˊ

    派手だが俗っぽくない = Gorgeous, but not in a mundane manner

    Note: If you remove 而, 艷不俗 is rare, though maybe possible, not as common as 艷而不俗. 艷, gorgeous, adjective. 俗, mundane, adjective. 不 gives negative to the adjective following.

  3. さらに一歩進めた関係を表わす = Shows further step

    取而代之

    qǔ ér dài zhī

    qu3 er3 dai4 zhi1

    ㄑㄩˇ ㄦˇ ㄉㄞˋ ㄓ

    とって代わる = Replace it

    Note: If you remove 而, it gives 取代之, still meaningful though not as common as 取而代之. 取, pick, verb. 代, replace, verb. 之, it, pronoun.

  4. 原因・目的を示す語句を動詞につなぐ

    為勝利而奮鬥

    wèi shèng lì ér fèn dòu

    wei4 sheng4 li4 er2 fen4 dou4

    ㄨㄟˋ ㄕㄥˋ ㄌㄧˋ ㄦˊ ㄈㄣˋ ㄉㄡˋ

    勝利のために奮闘する = Fight for victory

    Note: 為, for, preposition. 勝利, victory, noun. 奮鬥, hard working, noun.

  5. 仮定を表わす = Gives an "if…"

    理論而不與實踐相結合...

    lǐ lùn ér bù yǔ shí jiàn xiāng jié hé

    li3 lun4 er3 bu4 yu3 shi2 jian4 xiang1 jie2 he2

    ㄌㄧˇ ㄌㄨㄣˋ ㄦˊ ㄅㄨˋ ㄩˇ ㄕˊ ㄐㄧㄢˋ ㄒㄧㄤ ㄐㄧㄝˊ ㄏㄜˊ

    理論がもし実践と結びつかないなら… = Work on theory without practical proof

    Note: 理論, theory, noun, here is a verb, that is, to work out a theory. 與, and. 實踐, practice. 相, with. 結合, combine, verb.

share|improve this answer
    
Yes, thanks for the Chinese rendering of my pinyin. –  daniel Aug 22 '13 at 17:04
    
Welcome, @daniel, tell us if you need anything more after digesting all above :D –  congliu Aug 22 '13 at 17:19

In MOST case, "而" have NO ANY meaning

Sometime, "而" is short version of "然而(but)","而且(and)","反而(instead)"...etc

at these time, word's meaning comes from "然","且","反".

"而" still NO meaning.

It just for padding word.

share|improve this answer
    
I think you have a point. Language is very redundant and I think it could be that this word sometimes is used to simply mark the verb and make the language clearer. "Padding." Thank you. –  daniel Aug 23 '13 at 12:08

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.