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I just had a class with my iTalki teacher, and she pointed out a preference for where to add the subject (主语) when writing a particular 虽然……但是 sentence. So I'd like to systematically go through the combinations. We can add the first subject before or after the 虽然, or omit it entirely, and we can add the second subject (which may or may not be equal to the first subject) before or after the 但是, or omit it entirely.

So these are the possible combinations:

One subject: Although he's fat, he's rich.

  1. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  2. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  3. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  4. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  5. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  6. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  7. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  8. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  9. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。

Two subjects: Although he's fat, his father is rich.

  1. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  2. 虽然很胖,他的爸爸但是很有钱。
  3. 虽然很胖,但是他的爸爸很有钱。
  4. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  5. 虽然很胖,他的爸爸但是很有钱。
  6. 虽然很胖,但是他的爸爸很有钱。
  7. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。
  8. 虽然很胖,他的爸爸但是很有钱。
  9. 虽然很胖,但是他的爸爸很有钱。

I struck out the one with no subject, and those where the second subject is distinct from the first, but one of the subjects is omitted (we're not mind-readers). I think these cannot be both grammatically and semantically correct.

It's hard for me to identify which word orders are grammatically correct, which sentences mean what is intended, and which are considered "natural". My preference is for 虽然很胖,但是很有钱 (4. top) and 虽然很胖,但是他的爸爸很有钱 (9. bottom). I've seen the word order 虽然很胖,但是很有钱 (9. top) used in writing, but I feel it has an unnecessary 他, and the relevant word order in my class today (but for an entirely different sentence) was 虽然很胖,但是很有钱 (7. top), which took me by surprise since I thought the scope of 他 in this sentence didn't extend into the second clause.

Question: What are the correct ways to add subjects (主语) in 虽然……但是 sentences?

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  • Not really related to your question but I found the second sentence peculiar because I don't see the relationship between 他很胖 and 他的爸爸很有钱. I'd put them in two sentences. Even the first sentence is somewhat peculiar. The sentence 他虽然很胖,但是很窮 would make sense to me because you don't expect a poor guy to be able to afford a lot of food. Thus, you can see the contrast between the first and second half of the sentence.
    – joehua
    Nov 6, 2023 at 10:09
  • @joehua More than not, "很胖" is not a compliment but an unkind comment - fat, out of shape, he's not desirable.
    – r13
    Nov 6, 2023 at 15:09

3 Answers 3

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The grammar structure of the phrases after "虽然" and "但是" should be the same.

These are correct:

  • 他虽然很胖,但是很有钱。(Both are adjective phrases: 很胖, 很有钱.)
  • 虽然他很胖,但是他很有钱。(Both are clauses: 他很胖, 他很有钱.)
  • 虽然他很胖,但是他的爸爸很有钱。(Both are clauses: 他很胖, 他的爸爸很有钱.)

Also, never put subject before "但是".

If your questions is why you can put subject before "虽然": That is because it is the subject of the whole sentence, not just for the "虽然" clause. Consider breaking down the sentences as follows:

  • 他 (虽然很胖,但是很有钱)。
  • 虽然 (他很胖),但是 (他很有钱)。
  • 虽然 (他很胖),但是 (他的爸爸很有钱)。

For your examples:

  1. 虽然很胖,但是很有钱。Bad. No subject.
  2. 虽然很胖,他但是很有钱。Bad. Don't put subject before "但是".
  3. 虽然很胖,但是他很有钱。Not very good. Not conventional Chinese way of ordering the sentence.
  4. 他虽然很胖,但是很有钱。Good.
  5. 他虽然很胖,他但是很有钱。Bad. Don't put subject before "但是".
  6. 他虽然很胖,但是他很有钱。Makes sense and comprehensible but it is not grammatically correct. You may see it where grammar is not strictly observed.
  7. 虽然他很胖,但是很有钱。Bad.
  8. 虽然他很胖,他但是很有钱。Bad. Don't put subject before "但是".
  9. 虽然他很胖,但是他很有钱。Good.

Your other group of examples already got most of the wrong answers ruled out. Note that "他的爸爸但是..." is bad in any case. Like I said, don't put subject before "但是".

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You are thinking way too much in terms of English. How about 他很胖,但他很有钱 and 他很胖,但他爸爸很有钱?

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  • 虽然他很胖,但是他很有钱 makes sense when the implication is "the reason he is popular"
    – Tang Ho
    Nov 6, 2023 at 3:36
  • 虽然 and 但是 are both negations. Having both is redundant. Translating that in to English: Although he is fat, however he is very rich. Not strictly incorrect, but it's still a poor sentence. Nov 6, 2023 at 3:43
  • Strange how somebody slapped me with a down vote without any explanantion. Nov 6, 2023 at 3:47
  • If you want an explanation: Your answer contains two sentences. The first sentence is judgemental and useless for me and others. The second sentence asks a question, and doesn't give an answer. There's nothing usable here. I didn't want to comment because I didn't want to hurt your feelings.
    – Becky 李蓓
    Nov 6, 2023 at 4:32
  • @fat penguin "虽然 and 但是 are both negations" 「雖然.....但是」 is the standard and traditional pattern. It is different from English which uses only although or though. If you think otherwise, you have been influenced by English.
    – joehua
    Nov 6, 2023 at 10:00
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Question: What are the correct ways to add subjects in 虽然……但是 sentences?

Use "虽然 A 但是 B" when statement "B" stands despite the condition "A" exists. In short, "B despite A"

Example:

虽然穷但是很大方 (Although poor, he is very generous) Most people would think poor people are less likely to be generous

虽然富有但是很吝嗇 (Although rich, he is very stingy) Most people would think a rich person is more likely to be generous

Notice:

虽然富有但是很大方 (Although rich, he is very generous) would be a wrong usage

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