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

而段剑则是神情严肃地站在聂离的身边。

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.

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You have to look at the whole sentence to understand:
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。

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 '15 at 13:50
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    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 '15 at 14:06
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而……则……is a phase, meaning but. 则could be omitted without affect meaning. it's for emphasizing

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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.

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则是 can be transferred to but.

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

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