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If we are to translate "contributed to" in "someone's arrogance and impulsion contributed to his failure," should I use 导致 or 促使?

张三的自负和冲动导致/促使了他的失败。

  • 促使 seems a word as v.t. in english, i.e. use nouns and pronouns after the word 促使. Personally I would not say something like 促使了. When I say something like "his great dream drives him to work hard everyday", I may use 促使 as in 他远大的梦想促使他天天努力工作 [although my english sentence above would be flawed]. – xbh Oct 27 '18 at 16:55
  • How about "自负和冲动促使张三失败"? Here, "了" has been removed. – Apollyon Oct 28 '18 at 11:46
  • Seems okay, but i would still use 导致. Anyway, everybody has preferences. – xbh Oct 28 '18 at 12:03
  • Don't you think 導致 means to cause something directly, whereas 促使 is more indirect? – Apollyon Oct 28 '18 at 12:24
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导 (lead) ; 致 (reach)

导致 = (lead to) cause

促 (induce); 使 (make)

促使 = (induce and make) to push

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"someone's arrogance and impulsion contributed to his failure"

'contributed' means 'helped' -- '导致 (lead to)' and "促使 (push)" are two different form of 'helping' something to happen, therefore, 导致 or 促使 are both acceptable in "张三的自负和冲动导致/促使了他的失败。"

If you want a strict word to word translation, you can use '作出贡献', but '贡献' in Chinese only denote contribution to 'positive result' For example: "对社会作出贡献" (contribute to society); but you cannot say "对失败作出贡献" (contribute to failure) unless this negative result is a good thing, for example: "對纳粹滅亡作出贡献" (contributed to the destruction of the Nazis)

导致 and 促使 doesn't have this problem, they can be used to describe contribution to 'positive or negative result'

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导致 implies “direct” cause. 促使 is more like “contributed to” in English. For this particular example, it’s better to use 促使

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In this case, 助力 is better to interpret "contribute to". 导致 and 促使 imply that arrogance and impulsion are the sufficient condition to lead to his failure. Well, "contribute to" doesn't imply a sufficient condition. In other words, his arrogance and impulsion are not the only reason to lead to his failure.

"someone's arrogance and impulsion contributed to his failure," // 张三的自负和冲动助力了他的失败。

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    助力 cannot be used as a verb in Mandarin. – Apollyon Oct 27 '18 at 14:42
  • @Apollyon, why not? I heard of lots of examples, like 他对于促进双方的协作助力不少;他的工作对于救灾助力甚大。他的工作助力甚大。 – dan Oct 27 '18 at 14:45
  • In your just-mentioned examples, which are indeed natural, 助力 is used with a particular frame: 对于 ... 助力甚大/助力不少. "助力甚大/助力不少" is actually like an adjective. It like saying "这本书帮助很大," meaning "the book is immensely helpful." – Apollyon Oct 27 '18 at 14:55
  • @Apollyon I don't feel something unnatural about 张三的自负和冲动助力了他的失败 as a native speaker. You can also say 我的工作助力了祖国的四化建设. – dan Oct 27 '18 at 15:04
  • @Apollyon There are lots of examples on the web. see this example: 181. 节目中一向冷面示人的涂磊转型做温情公益大使,“沈眉庄”扮演者斓曦与“春晚常客”金玉婷等四位明星观察员助力普通人圆梦。 – dan Oct 27 '18 at 15:22

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