Once your Chinese learning reaches an intermediate level, you may find that you have some difficulty with synonyms. Most Chinese learners wonder if these synonyms are interchangeable, or wonder which particular word(s) to use in a situation where a couple of words appear to be applicable. Using "另外/另" as an example – let's see how to properly use each of them.
另外 (lìng wài)
1. The pronoun "另外" indicates a person(s) or thing(s) other than those that have already been mentioned, often used in the structure "另外(+的)+Num-M(+N)" or "另外+的(+N)". For example:
wǒ háiyào gēn nǐ tán lìngwài yījiàn shìqing.
There's another thing I want to talk over with you.
zhè jiàn chènshān yǒudiǎnr dà, nǐ shìshi lìngwài nà jiàn ba.
This shirt is little too big for you, try on the other one.
2. When "另外" is used as an adverb, it means "beyond the scope of what we had mentioned previously", and is often used together with "还/再/又". For example:
tā jīntiān méiyǒu shíjiān, wǒmen lìngwài zài zhǎo rén ba.
He's not available today, shall we find another person.
3. Finally, the conjunctive form of "另外" means "besides," and is used to connect clauses or sentences, etc. For example:
xīwàng nǐ néng ànshí wánchéng gōngzuò. lìngwài, nǐ hái yīnggāi chuān de zhèngshì diǎnr.
I hope you can finish the work on time, besides, you should dress more formally.
On the other hand, "另" is the abbreviated version of "另外." Both of them can be used as pronouns referring to the person(s) or thing(s) other than what has been mentioned and as adverbs meaning "beyond the scope mentioned previously," like we discussed above.
However, there are also some differences between them:
1. Though "另外" is often used in the structure "另外+(的)+Num-M(+N)" or "另外+(的)(+N)," this structure may or may not include "的." If "另外" is replaced by "另", then one must omit "的."
For example, if you want to say "I'm using this computer, please use the other one." You can say:
wǒ zài yòng zhè tái diànnǎo, qǐng nǐ yòng lìngwài /lìng yītái ba.
wǒ zài yòng zhè tái diànnǎo, qǐng nǐ yòng lìngwài de diànnǎo ba.
wǒ zài yòng zhè tái diànnǎo, qǐng nǐ yòng lìngwài de yītái ba.
And you cannot say:
2. "另" is usually used to modify a monosyllabic verb, while "另外" has no such restriction.
zuìjìn Xiǎoyǔ tài máng le, méi shíjiān bāng nǐ, nǐ háishì lìngwài/lìng zhǎo biérén ba.
Xiaoyu has been very busy recently, and she has no time to help you. You should ask someone else.
tā búdàn bāng wǒmen jiějué le xiànzài de wèntí, hái lìngwài tígòng le bùshǎo xīn de cáiliào.
He not only helped us solve the problem, but also provided us with some new materials.
3. Finally, though "另外" can be used as a conjunction, "另" cannot.
dōngjì yīnggāi duō chī shuǐguǒ. lìngwài, háiyào jìdé duō hēshuǐ.
You should eat more fruit in winter. Besides, remember to drink more water.
Note that in some set or idiomatic phrases, such as: 另有打算(lìng yǒu dǎ suàn; have other plans), 另立户头(lìng lì hù tóu; open another/separate bank account) etc. "另" is the best choice.
Can you tell apart "另外" and "另" now? The quickest way to learn the difference between synonyms is using sample sentences to make your own sentences, getting your own sentences proofread by a Chinese teacher, then memorizing the sentences that you made.
Now, let's do some practice:
Tick or cross
zhège fángjiān shì wǒ de, ____ yīgè fángjiān shì nǐ de.
This room is mine; the other one is yours.
wǒ suīrán yǒu yīgè diànnǎo, kěshì wǒ hái xiǎng ____ mǎi yīgè.
I already have one computer, but I want to buy another one anyways.
fúwùyuán, qǐng gěi wǒ ná xiē cānjīnzhǐ. ____, zài gěi wǒ lái píng píjiǔ.
Waiter, please give me some napkin paper and one more beer please.
wǒ jīntiān hěn máng, zánmen ____ zài zhǎo shíjiān tán ba.
I'm busy today, how about we find another time to talk?
zhè gè fànguǎn rén hěn duō, wǒmen qù ____ de yījiā ba.
There are a lot of people in this restaurant, let's go to the other one.
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