My vocabulary states that 则是 means: "then is". However I don't understand how to translate the following sentence:


I can translate it perfectly fine by omitting 则是, so not sure what does it add. I was thinking, maybe it is a construct with 而...则是.

Ps: this is a sentence from the novel 妖神记,chapter 177.

4 Answers 4


You have to look at the whole sentence to understand:

则是 contrasts the actions of 聂离 (he sat down next to the two Ye's), and 段剑 (he stood next to 聂离). English might use a conjunction such as "while", or "on the other hand".

则是 is not really a conjunction, though. It is more like what is sometimes called a "pseudo-cleft" sentence: "As for Duan Jian, what he did was to stand next to Nie Qin with a stern expression."

I don't think 而 is absolutely necessary here. If you don't use it though, I would probably put a period, rather than a comma.

This is a good example of how English and Chinese have different ways of linking compound sentences to form a narrative structure.

  • I definitely thought that i was a conjunction. So I guess that "then is" is related either to the fact that it is a pseudo-cleft sentence either it is used in another context.
    – Lex
    Dec 20, 2015 at 13:50
  • 1
    I think the 是 in 则是 is still a verb (a special verb, a "copula). Because of this, I wouldn't call it a conjunction. Notice that 则是 is very different from 但是. 但是 is a real conjunction.
    – wpt
    Dec 20, 2015 at 14:06

而……则……is a phase, meaning but. 则could be omitted without affect meaning. it's for emphasizing


The translation is "And Duanjian just standing by Nieli seriously.The original is 聂离观察了一下各处之后,走回了大厅的上首,坐在了叶修和叶朔的旁边,而段剑则是神情严肃地站在聂离的身边。 The meaning of the text is Nieli looked around,than back seat of the honor,besides Yexiu and Yesuo.And Duanjian just standing by him seriously. I can't find a word in English to replace it.And 则是 are two words,则是 should be divided into 则 and 是.The vocabulary 则 is a conjunction which shows the transition.Everyone sitting on their own seats and Duanjian standing.


则是 can be transferred to but.

All people stand there to chat together but Xiaoming only seat there alone.

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