In the Coursera HSK6 course, week 5 lesson 22, part of the spoken 短文 is:


[My translation]: The majority of pop music songs are male-female romance, lyrics close to life, everyday and easy to understand, catchy, well-received, unsurprising.

It's almost like they've thought "I can't be bothered with grammar", and just said a bunch of clauses, leaving the listener to mentally add in the grammar.

I'm wondering how I should understand the absence of conjunctions (的, 很, 以及, etc.), and if this is acceptable for spoken Chinese but not written Chinese.

Question: How should I understand the absence of conjunctions in this sentence?

  • 的 and 很 are not conjunctions, do you mean 跟?
    – fefe
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 6:24
  • The translation should be: The majority of pop music songs are about male-female romance. The lyrics are close to life, easy to understand, and catchy. It is unsurprising that they are well-received.
    – fefe
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 6:26
  • For the sake of brevity, I use the term "conjunction" loosely. If I went through and assigned them all their proper descriptors, it would add too much noise to the question. (And likely someone will nit-pick that, and further distract from the actual question.)
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 7:35
  • Pauses in speech and commas in writing are an acceptable way to enumerate items, properties of the subject, and comments in a topic-comment structure
    – blackgreen
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 13:36

5 Answers 5



There are punctuation issues in this sentence. A way to modify it is:


We can also replace 顿号(、) with 逗号(,):


The sentence should be read as:

[流行音乐] /歌唱的/大都是/男女爱情,歌词贴近生活,通俗易懂,易于传唱,受到欢迎不足为怪。

It's topic + comment structure. The topic is [流行音乐]. The comments: [歌唱的大都是男女爱情], [歌词贴近生活], [通俗易懂], [易于传唱], [受到欢迎不足为怪].

There is no need for conjunctions here. The comments are paralleled by commas. I guess your issue is not conjunction per se, but parsing.(Correct me if I'm wrong.)

For translation, you can separate into a few sentences. @fefe already presented one. You might come out with a better one considering you are an English speaker.


This might help you further:

  1. [流行音乐]歌唱的大都是男女爱情;

  2. [流行音乐]歌词贴近生活;

  3. [流行音乐]通俗易懂;

  4. [流行音乐]易于传唱;

  5. [流行音乐]受到欢迎不足为怪。

P. S. There is a trick in the first part, [流行音乐]歌唱的大都是男女爱情. It's very easy to parse it as 流行音乐歌/唱的/大都是/男女爱情. So, you would take [流行音乐歌] as the topic. But actually, the topic should be 流行音乐 and 歌唱 as a whole is a single word to mean sing. It would be more obvious to write [流行音乐][歌唱的内容]大都是男女爱情. I saw other answers took [流行音乐歌] as the topic as well, so I think it deserves to point it out.

  • (I better fess up to the comma errors: If I copy/paste from the transcript exactly, it is "流行音乐歌唱的大都是男女爱情 歌词贴近生活,通俗易懂,易于传唱 受到欢迎,不足为怪。".)
    – Becky 李蓓
    Commented Jul 13, 2020 at 8:59
  • @Becky李蓓 This one even contains more errors than your original post. Lol.
    – dan
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 0:14


[流行音乐歌] - topic

[唱的大都是男女爱情, 歌词贴近生活]- comment that describes the topic

The comment continues with an opinion:

[通俗易懂,易于传唱] - stating reasons for the opinion

[受到欢迎 不足为怪] - stating the opinion

You can add conjunctions and word particles to connect the clauses more smoothly. But pausing between phrases to emphasize each of them might be the desired effect of the sentence.

流行音乐歌唱的大都是男女爱情, 歌词贴近生活,(由於/ 因為) 通俗易懂,易于传唱, (因此/ 所以)受到欢迎 (也)不足为怪。


Is it acceptable for spoken Chinese?

I would say yes, and I would say it is acceptable in written Chinese too. 1. it is not ungrammatical. 2. pausing between phrases instead of linking them with conjunctions emphasizes each of them. Similar to a bullet points list: "流行音乐歌唱的大都是男女爱情, 歌词贴近生活,通俗易懂,易于传唱, 受到欢迎 (也)不足为怪"


I'm a Chinese currently studying in Europe.

After first seeing this sentence, I thought to myself: "this is a sick sentence that every pupil knows"

Then I clicked on the link and I saw "Peking University". One of the top universities in China. How could they have made more silly mistakes than a pupil?

Then I carefully checked everything and found it's in audio, not a written piece. Then I got it.

The point is not conjunctions. It's the punctuation and absence of a subject

The reason why you have this question is that the Chinese language has different punctuation compared to western languages, which may seem really strange to non-native speakers. As you typed it, the punctuation mark is a slight pause mark used to separate items in a series). For natives, it is easy to understand a sentence and put the correct punctuation in the right place according to its meaning.

So I should divide the sentences correctly for you first:



受到欢迎 不足为怪。

I could also break the sentence like this:



受到欢迎 不足为怪。

Note: The punctuation mark equals to . in English

[Your translation](Corresponding to Chinese semantics, I translate sentences one to one)

The majority of pop music songs are male-female romance.

Lyrics close to life, everyday and easy to understand, catchy.

well-received unsurprising.

Note: I replaced the , with . in your translation because it should be like this in English. As you can see, it can be in Chinese as well. I'll explain more later.

I also marked the subject in the first and second sentence in your translation, to show that they are complete sentences.

There is no punctuation between well-received and unsurprising. What you heard in the audio is just a pause in tone.

The question is, where is the subject of the third sentence. According to the context, it's natural to associate the adjective "well-received" with "The majority of pop music songs". The "unsurprising" is to modify "well-received".

Therefore, the third sentence is:

(That The majority of pop music songs is) well-received (is) unsurprising

Now we get the meaning of the whole sentence. Let's change it to the normal order in English.

It is unsurprising that the majority of pop music songs

which are mostly about male-female romance

are well-received

because their lyrics are close to life, everyday and easy to understand, catchy.

When there is a subject, there should be one complete sentence. It's the same as English. So when you translate, you should not always use ,. But I know you can see a lot in Chinese. That's because the usage of , is different between Chinese and English.

For Example, consider this sentence:



I went to my friend's house to play the whole day, we played basketball together. Until the afternoon another classmate joined us. We ended up playing very tired, but it was a happy day.

You can see it's all complete sentence. But In Chinese it uses , to connect every sentence. That's because , sometimes play the role of ..

Whether a Chinese sentence ends with a period is usually determined by the meaning of the sentence, not whether the sentence has a complete sentence structure.

Whether the action of the next sentence is related to the preceding sentence, or whether it follows the meaning of the preceding sentence, determines whether we use a comma or a full stop.

Also, it's very common to omit the subject in spoken Chinese. When you get into this situation, look for the subject of the preceding sentence. It must not be too far away and has an apparent logic association.

When Chinese people understand a sentence, they first understand the general meaning of the whole sentence, and then break the sentence according to the need of the sentence fluency. So even a Chinese person will listen to the sentence halfway through and get what he thinks it means, only to find out later that what the other person is trying to say is not what he thought, and then go back and break the sentence again.

Disclaimer: My point of view may not be suitable for rigorous written expressions or academic research. Just a common Chinese's personal insight into everyday oral communication.

Welcome to learn about Chinese and Chinese culture.

  • That's been a long edit. Phew. Nice answer though. +1'ed
    – blackgreen
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 11:30
  • @blackgreen Thank you for your editing and sorry for my mistakes.
    – 眭泰铨
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 14:21

topic of pop music:


style of lyric:


Result and conclusion:

(这些歌)受到欢迎 不足为怪。

Instead of several clauses, there are actually 3 sentences, but the subjects are the same, so omitted.


Conjuctions? What for?

It's a bit dumb if you ask me, but not wrong. You can leave off the last 不足为怪。I read 歌唱 as songs.

一条面包要胜过众鸟的歌唱。 或者 一条面包要胜过流行音乐的歌唱。

Pop music songs are mainly about romantic love between men and women,
their lyrics reflect reality,
and are easily understood;
The songs are easy to sing,
受到欢迎、(?? they are pop = popular songs!!)
they are popular,
which is not at all surprising.

  • 1
    歌唱 is a verb. In this context, 歌唱的 refers to 歌唱的内容(the content they sing).
    – dan
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 1:04
  • I think, in Chinese, the distinction noun-verb is, at best, vague, and often non-existent. I know people sing, but songs do not sing.
    – Pedroski
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 10:04
  • Try to search 歌唱 in a dictionary and see what it says. The one handy from mine: 歌唱 / gē chàng / 1 (唱歌) sing: sing to one's heart's content; 尽情歌唱 sing for the peasants; 为农民歌唱
    – dan
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 10:25
  • 在‘歌唱比赛’的‘歌唱’是什么?动词或者名词?
    – Pedroski
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 22:37
  • 动词,歌唱比赛 = 歌唱的比赛. 歌唱 is another way to say 唱歌.
    – dan
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 23:16

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