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I asked ChatGPT for sentences comparing

CC-CEDICT: 鉴于 (jiàn​yú​) in view of / seeing that / considering / whereas

CC-CEDICT: 既然 (jì​rán​) since / as / this being the case

and it gave me:

鉴于天气不好,比赛被推迟了。
鉴于他的表现,他获得了晋升机会。
鉴于学生们的努力,这个项目取得了成功。
鉴于你的经验,你是最适合这份工作的人选。
鉴于疫情的影响,我们决定取消活动。

既然你喜欢音乐,为什么不考虑学乐器呢?
既然今天是个假日,我们可以去郊外野餐。
既然你来了,我们一起庆祝吧!
既然他不在家,我留了张纸条给他。
既然我们都有不同的意见,让我们坐下来谈一谈。

I can't tell the difference (if there is any); they both seem like "since" or "given that" in English.

Question: What's the difference between 既然 and 鉴于?

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  • I just want to point out that the use of 既然 or 鉴于 is redudant in many of the examples. "鉴于天气不好,比赛被推迟了" can be shorten to "天气不好,比赛被推迟了" without any loss in meaning, which makes the later form generally better. Oct 16, 2023 at 2:26

5 Answers 5

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First, 既然 can only be used as a conjunction word, but 鉴于 can be a proposition and take a noun phrase complement as well.

Correct: 鉴于目前的情况,我们先不行动。

Incorrect: 既然目前的情况,我们先不行动。

However, note that 既然 can also be followed by certain demonstrative pronouns: 既然如此, 既然这样, etc.

Second, the subject of the reason subclause can be placed before 既然, but not before 鉴于:

Correct: 他既然不来,我们就先开始行动吧。

Correct: 既然他不来,我们就先开始行动吧。

Correct: 鉴于他不来,我们就先开始行动吧。

Incorrect: 他鉴于不来,我们就先开始行动吧。

Third, 既然 can be used in a question sentence, but 鉴于 cannot:

Correct: 既然许多人都这样做,为什么我不能这样做?

Incorrect: 鉴于许多人都这样做,为什么我不能这样做?

Fourth, when 既然 is used it is assumed that the listener already knows the information in the reason subclause: the speaker merely makes an inference based on common knowledge. 鉴于 can be used to introduce new information, similar to 由于.

Correct: 鉴于气象台刚刚发布了暴雨预警,明天的活动取消。

Incorrect: 既然气象台刚刚发布了暴雨预警,明天的活动取消。

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Lets look at my hk dictionary (cantonese and english definitions of standard chinese terms and their use)

既然:

用嚟帶出對情況嘅客觀描述, 同埋相關嘅見解、建議或者提問 since; now that; followed by an objective description of the situation, and then an opinion, advice or question related to that situation

VARIANT OF 鑑於〔鉴于〕

標示一啲令事件發生嘅直接或者間接因素, 係正式嘅講法 in the light of; in view of; seeing that

So I would say that the meaning itself is the same, and they are both standard conjunctions. However 既然 has a slightly more specific sentence structure and format to describe a situation and add new info to the context.

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  • 既然 = since (1. specific facts dictate a situation should or would occur 2. specific facts dictate an action should or has to be taken)

Example: 既然沒錢就不能去旅行 (Since you don’t have money, you can't go traveling); 既然沒錢就不要去旅行 (Since you don’t have money, you shouldn't go traveling)

  • 鉴于 = in the light of; seeing that (specific facts suggest an action should be taken)

Example: 鉴于經濟能力下滑,所以就不去旅行了 In view of the decline in economic capacity, I will not travel

Idiom" 前车可 = "the chariot before can be a reference" (you make your decision based on referencing the fate of the previous chariot)

  • 鉴于XX, therefore YY --> XX is the justification for YY

  • 既然XX, then YY --> XX is the cause of YY

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"既然"表示先提出前提,而后加以推论,"鉴于"表示由于,按照,根据,关于,考虑到

"既然" means now that;as;since,while "鉴于" means in the light of;in view of;in consideration of;in connection with;seeing that;in reguard to

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Both "鉴于" and "既然" are used in reasoning the conclusion or follow-up action for a matter/event in the foreground.

鉴于"A", therefore "B" - "B" is the conclusive result after the consideration/examination/study carefully the matter/event "A".

  • 鉴于[A]天气不好,(therefore) [B]比赛被推迟了。

既然"A", then "B" - "B" is the logical result of the matter/event "A".

  • 既然[A]你喜欢音乐,(then) [B]为什么不考虑学乐器呢?

Note: The root meanings of 鉴 and 既 may help in distinguishing these terms too.

  • "鉴" - 镜子 (mirror); 观察 (observe, examine, inspect); 审察 (study carefully, examine). Thus "鉴于" literally means "based on the observation/examination/inspection of", or simply "in view/consideration/the light of", something in the foreground - 考虑到, 由于, 根据.

  • "既" - 已经 (already). "既然", literally means "since/as/now that", and typically is associated with a logical conclusion or action deduced/drawn from something happening in the foreground.

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