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I am reading a graded reader and came across a sentence that I find a bit confusing:

如果不是因為這個面試,我都不知道...

My understanding of the (partial) sentence above is "If it weren't for the interview, I would never have known..."

However, I find the sentence structure odd and I cannot find "不是因為" defined as a phrase anywhere. Could someone please explain the make-up of this sentence to me in simple terms?

Specifically, what is the meaning of 不是 and 因為 in this context?

Also, is there some good article or similar where I can learn more about this type of construct?

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4 Answers 4

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Anything couched in terms of "if ... " is a subjunctive sentence, it hasn't happened, it's not real.

English still has vestigial subjunctive forms. You can translate 如果不是因为 as "Were it not for ..." and save yourself the "if". Some proscriptive grammarians will rail and cry if someone says "If I was you ... " but, I think, the if already tells us, this situation is unreal, so the proper use of were can be overlooked. Chinese has no subjunctive forms, but can express unreal situations clearly.

如果不是因为天气原因,我呆在这的时间会更长。
Were it not for the weather, my stay here would be longer.

如果不是因为他是个亿万富翁,她不会嫁给他。
Were it not for the fact that he is a billionaire, she would never have married him.

or shorter

Were he not a billionaire, she would never have married him.

如果不是因为前几天他的邀请,我现在就不会在这里了。
Were it not for his invitation a few days ago, I would not be here now.

如果不是因为这个面试,我都不知道这家公司的老板竟然是我爸爸的老朋友。
Were it not for this job interview, I would never have known that the boss of the company is an old friend of my father's.

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  • 如果 = if

  • 不是 = isn't/ not

  • 因為 = for/ because of

如果不是因為 = if not for

如果不是因為這個面試,我都不知道... = If not for this interview, I wouldn't have known...

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translation:

if it is not because of sth./sb.

usage:

如果不是因为你,我不会迟到

if it is not because of you, I won't be late

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如果不是 = 要不是 (which you'll find listed in most dictionaries)

To my non-native ears, 如果不是 sounds more stilted (perhaps slightly more formal in register) than 要不是.

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