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The uses of “除非” in Chinese

chinese conjunction, chinese words, learning chinese

除非(chúfēi) can be used as a conjunction, and means "unless". 否则(fǒuzé) or 不然(bùrán) often appear in the following phrase, to form a construction meaning "unless X, otherwise Y":

"除非(chúfēi)"可用作连词,意为"unless"。以下的短语经常出现"否则(fǒuzé)"或"不然(bùrán)",组成意为"(除非X,否则Y) unless X, otherwise Y"的结构。


Simplified construction



The simplified construction more directly maps to the basic English usage of "unless".






除非 means "unless" in the following "Y , 除非 X" pattern. The sentences below place emphasis on the part after 除非.



Y,除非 X





老板 不 给 你 加薪,除非 你 表现 很 好。

The boss won't give you a raise unless you perform well.


公司 不 允许 员工 请假,除非 理由 很 充分。

The company won't allow it's staff time off unless their reason is good enough.


欧洲 的 经济 无法 恢复 正常,除非 希腊 债务 问题 得以 解决。

Europe will be unable to normalize it's economy, unless Greece resolves it's debt problem.


我们 会 破产,除非 能 申请 到 银行 贷款。

We're going to go bankrupt unless we are able to apply for a bank loan.


Full construction



In the full construction, 除非 comes first, and the meaning is "Unless X, otherwise Y."

完全结构里,"除非"放于句首,意思是"(除非X,否则Y) unless X, otherwise Y"





除非 X ,否则/不然 Y





除非 你 表现 很 好,否则 老板 不 给 你 加薪。

Unless your performance is good, the boss won't give you a raise.


除非 理由 很 充分,否则 公司 不 允许 员工 请假。

Unless the reason is good, the company won't give its staff time off.


除非 希腊 债务 问题 得以 解决,不然 欧洲 的 经济 无法 恢复 正常。

Unless Greece resolves it's debt problem, Europe won't be able to bring its economy back to normal.


除非 能 申请 到 银行 贷款,否则 我们 就 会 破产。

Unless we can apply for a bank loan, we're going to go bankrupt.


Used with 才



除非 is also used in the patterns below. The meaning expressed is the same as the sentences above, but below the "Y" part expresses what won't happen unless the X condition is met. It might be more helpful to think of 除非 here as meaning "only if".






除非 X,才 Y





除非 理由 很 充分,公司 才 允许 员工 请假。

Only if the reason is good enough will the company give its staff time off.


除非 你 表现 很 好,老板 才 给 你 加薪。

Unless your performance is good, the boss won't give you a raise.


除非 希腊 债务 问题 得以 解决,欧洲 的 经济 才 恢复 正常。

Only if Greece resolves its debt problem will Europe be able to bring its economy back to normal.


除非 能 申请 到 银行 贷款,我们 才 不 会 破产。

Only if we can apply for the loan will we be able to avoid going bankrupt.


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