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Is there a Chinese linking word which could be used the same way as English "and" which connects two ideas or actions or introduces one after the other within one sentence? There doesn't have to be a logical connection between the parts and the purpose of this word would be to "gramatically" or "structurally" join these parts and place them in the same sentence. What's important is that the parts would usually have different subjects and predicates. For example:

"I read this book and it was great."

I know that this can be expressed by two sentences: "我看了这本书。它非常好。" but this seems somewhat unnatural for me (but maybe it's perfectly natural in Chinese?), so I'm wondering if the same can be achieved by a single sentence of the form: "我看了这本书___它非常好。". Another examples:

"I went to the party and saw my friend." - "我去聚会___看见我的朋友。"

"In this country prices are high and the weather is bad." - "在这个国家价格很高___天气很不好。"

"I like apples and she likes bananas." - "我喜欢苹果___她喜欢香蕉。"

Could 并 be used in this case?

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In Chinese, a linking word is not required to grammatical join the two parts. That is, "我喜欢苹果,她喜欢香蕉" is perfectly fine and natural.

If you really want to use one, "而且" and "而" works in most cases.

"而且" means "furthermore", so it does work in the "我喜欢苹果,她喜欢香蕉" case but it works in all the other three of your examples.

"而" can mean either "and" or "but", so it works in almost any case. However, it may sound a little literary.

Personally, I advise against using a linking word, unless you want to convey some nuance with the linking word. Avoiding unnecessary linking words makes your Chinese more natural.

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"and" in different contexts functions differently in English.

For example, "and" in "I went to the party and saw my friend" indicates 'subsequently'; On the other hand, "and" in "In this country prices are high and the weather is bad" indicates "also"

When translating it to Chinese, we have to use different words to express the real meaning of the "and" in it.

我看了这本书,[觉得]它非常好 ('and it is great' describes how you feel about it)

我去聚会[時]看见我的朋友 ('and saw my friends' indicates it happened when you went to the party)

在这个国家物价很高[而且]天气很不好 ('and' indicates 'also' in this context)

我喜欢苹果[而]她[則]喜欢香蕉 ('and' indicates 'in contrast' in this context)

Side note:

在这个国家价格很高 is better written as 在这个国家物价很高 "the price of things in this country is high"

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"I went to the party and saw my friend." - 我去聚会"同時"看见我的朋友。

"I went to the party and to see my friend." - 我去聚会"並且(同時)"见我的朋友。

"I like apples and she likes bananas." - "我喜欢苹果","她喜欢香蕉。

"In this country prices are high and the weather is bad." - "在这个国家价格很高___天气很不好。" You can fill in the blank with "同時", or ",".

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然后 我看了这本书然后(我觉得)它非常好。 我去聚会然后看见我的朋友。 在这个国家价格很高然后天气很不好。" 我喜欢苹果然后她喜欢香蕉。

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