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què
adv. but, however
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Why are there so many words for "but"?
Shīya3
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The correlative adverb 却 is used in the second clause of a complex sentence indicating adversativity. Its position should be between the subject and the predicate. For example:
E.g.1 最初我不了解中国,最后我却爱上了她。 [phr] At first I didn't understand China, but I love her very much in the end.
E.g.2 我帮了他三个多小时的忙,他却一句“谢谢”都没说。 [phr] I helped him for over three hours, but he didn’t even say “thanks” (to me).
When 但是 is used, 却 can still be used after it, in the same adversative clause. For example:
E.g.3 战士在战斗中战胜了敌人,但是他却牺牲了。 [phr] The enemy was defeated by the soldier who lost his life.
lisaC
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而 versus 却:

Looking at the translation of these two below, you might not be able to know how exactly they are different:
- 而 (conjunction): (and) yet, nevertheless
- 却 (adverb): but, however

而 is a conjunction. In grammar, a conjunction is a word used to connect clauses or sentences or to coordinate words within the same sentene or clause.

1. 而 can be used to connect two adjectives or two verbs, which are opposite; the second one complements or correct the first one. Here, 却 (adverb) can replace 而:
e.g. 这苹果大而不甜。/ 这苹果大却不甜。This apple is big, but not sweet.

2. 而 can be used to connect two clauses, which represent two contradicting or opposite matters. 而 can only be placed at the beginning of the second clause. Note that 却 is an adverb. In the Chinese language, adverbs appear before verbs or adjective and after subjects - most adverbs do not precede subjects. Therefore 却 cannot replace 而 in this sentence:
北京已经春暖花开,而多伦多还是冰天雪地。 In Beijing, spring has come and flowers are in bloom, but in Toronto, it is still a world of ice and snow.

3. 而 can be used to connect affirmation and negation, to explain the two in contrast. 却 cannot be used in this way.
你得给我定稿,而不是草稿。 You should give me the final draft, not the raw draft.
lisaC
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却 and 倒 can both be translated as "but, however". Do they have any differences?

倒 (but, however) is usually followed by something with a positive meaning. Example:
Example 1. 这篇文章引用的数据虽然不多,结论倒还站得住。 -/- [phr] Not a whole lot of data are cited in this article, but its conclusion holds.

却 (but, however) does not have this limit. In the example above, we can use 却 too. But in the following examples, we cannot use 倒, because it's not something positive:
Example 2. 战士在战斗中战胜了敌人,但是他却牺牲了。 r/s [phr] The soldier defeated the enemy in the battle, but he lost his life.
Example 3. 我帮了他三个多小时的忙,他却一句“谢谢”都没说。 r/- [phr] I helped him for over three hours, but he didn’t even say “thanks” (to me).
lisaC
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却 vs 但
却 and 但 can both mean "but". How are they different?
1. 却 (but) is a adverb and appears after the subject of the sentence (if the sentence has a subject). 但 (but), on the other hand, is a conjunction and appears before the subject of the sentence.
2. 却 indicates contrasts. It expresses someone's subjective opinion and carries a subjective tone with it.
3. 但 indicates transition. It emphasizes on delivering an objective statement.
lisaC
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