既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… Structure in Chinese Grammar: The Quick Guide

既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… Structure in Chinese Grammar

Just as 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… is used in spoken Chinese, 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… is a more formal way of expressing that two qualities or situations coexist. Depending on what comes after it in the sentence, the structure can mean “both A and B” or “both do A and do B”. 

In this article, we’ll first explain the two uses of 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… in Chinese with examples, and then, we’ll take a look at its variation.

Let’s get right on it.

Expressing both A and B with 既 ()…又 (yòu)…

You can use 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… with adjectives in Chinese to attribute multiple qualities to something. It’s like saying that something is “both adj 1 and adj 2” in English.

Pattern

(subject) + 既 (jì) adjective 1 + 又 (yòu) adjective 2

* the subject can be omitted if it’s self-evident from the context.

In most cases, the two adjectives used after 又 (yòu) need to have the same connotations. That is, they should both be positive or negative as a pair, and can’t contradict each other. For instance, you can use the pattern to say things like “she’s both pretty and smart”, but not “she’s both pretty and dumb”.

Let’s look at some examples:

Positive pair

  • 邻居的小孩聪明可爱。
    Línjū de xiǎohái cōngmíng yòu kě’ài.
    The neighbor’s kid is both smart and cute.
  • 他的女友温柔体贴。
    Tā de nǚyǒu jì wēnróu yòu tǐtiē.
    His girlfriend is both gentle and thoughtful.
  • 坐高铁经济舒适。
    Zuò gāotiě  jīngjì yòu shūshì.
    Taking the high-speed train is both economic and comfortable.
  • 点外卖方便实惠。
    Diǎn wàimài  fāngbiàn yòu shíhuì.
    Ordering food delivery is both convenient and budget-friendly.
  • 这份工作轻松体面。
    Zhè fèn gōngzuò  qīngsōng yòu tǐmiàn. 
    This job is both easy and decent.
both easy and decent

Negative pair

  • 我们订的房间破。
    Wǒmen dìng de fángjiān  xiǎo yòu pò.
    The room we booked is both small and run-down.
  • 她说的话气人可笑。
    Tā shuō de huà  qìrén yòu kěxiào.
    Her remarks are both maddening and laughable.
  • 这个决定愚蠢不负责。
    Zhège juédìng  yúchǔn yòu bú fùzé.
    This decision is both stupid and irresponsible.
  • 这个村子里的人无知顽固。
    Zhège cūnzi lǐ de rén  wúzhī yòu wángù.
    The people in this village are both ignorant and stubborn.
  • 几年前的谷歌眼镜不实用。
    Jǐ nián qián de Gǔgē yǎnjìng  guì yòu bù shíyòng.
    Google Glass from several years ago was both expensive and impractical.
both expensive and impractical

Expressing both do A and do B with 既 ()…又 (yòu)…

You can also use 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… in conjunction with verb phrases to express “both do A and do B”.

Pattern 

(subject) + 既 (jì) verb phrase 1 + 又 (yòu) verb phrase 2

  • 是法国人是意大利人。
     shì Fǎguó rén yòu shì Yìdàlì rén.
    He is both French and Italian.
    (literally, he both is French and is Italian)
  • 会钢琴会吉他。
     huì gāngqín yòu huì jítā.
    She can play both the piano and the guitar.
    (she both can play the piano and can play the guitar)
  • 想买手机想买电脑。
     xiǎng mǎi shǒujī yòu xiǎng mǎi diànnǎo.
    He wants to buy both a mobile and a computer.
    (he both wants to buy a mobile and wants to buy a computer)
  • 最近我很忙,要上学要打工。
    Zuìjìn wǒ hěn máng,  yào shàngxué yòu yào dǎgōng.
    I am quite busy nowadays, need to both go to school and do odd jobs.
    (both need to go to school and need to do odd jobs)
  • 在线学校让家长放心,使学生满意。
    Zàixiàn xuéxiào  ràng jiāzhǎng fàngxīn, yòu shǐ xuéshēng mǎnyì.
    The online school both let parents rest assured and make students satisfied.
both let parents rest assured and make students satisfied

既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… can also be used with verb phrases in the negative. Simply translate the structure as “neither…nor…” in this case.

  • 不会唱歌不会跳舞。
     bú huì chànggē yòu bú huì tiàowǔ.
    She can neither sing nor dance.
    (literally, she both can’t sing and can’t dance)
  • 不愿意上学不愿意工作。
     búyuàn yì shàngxué yòu bú yuànyì gōngzuò.
    He is neither willing to go to school nor work.
    (he is both not willing to go to school and not willing to work)

It’s worth pointing out that, most of the time, verb phrase 1 and verb phrase 2 will be built on the same main verb (i.e. 既 jì shì….又yòu shì) or a similar one (i.e, 既 jì ràng…又使…yòu shǐ). This has little to do with grammar, but rather a language habit. It’s a common practice that native speakers pair up the verb phrases in the 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… structure to make it sound more natural.

既 ()…又 (yòu)… VS 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)…

The expression 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… is quite formal. You are encouraged to use it when you write articles or give a speech in Chinese. In daily conversation, however, you might want to use 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… instead. It works the same, but conveys a much more relaxed, casual tone.

邻居的小孩聪明可爱。Línjū de xiǎohái  cōngmíng yòu kě’ài.
→ 邻居的小孩聪明可爱。Línjū de xiǎohái yòu cōngmíng yòu kě’ài.
The neighbor’s kid is both smart and cute.

是法国人是意大利人。Tā  shì Fǎguó rén yòu shì Yìdàlì rén.
→ 他是法国人是意大利人。Tā yòu shì Fǎguó rén yòu shì Yìdàlì rén.
He is both French and Italian.

We’ve also written a detailed post for the 又 yòu…又 yòu… structure, read here for more examples.

Variation of 既 ()…又 (yòu)…

The above is more than enough to say “both A and B” or “both do A and do B” in Chinese. If you are in the mood for enriching your descriptions, you might be interested in this variation of 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)…

既 ()…也 (yě)…

This structure can also be translated as “both…and” (or “neither…nor” in the negative). It’s very similar to 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… except it’s used primarily with verb phrases.

  • 是法国人是意大利人。
     shì Fǎguó rén shì Yìdàlì rén.
    He is both French and Italian.
  • 想买手机想买电脑。
     xiǎng mǎi shǒujī  xiǎng mǎi diànnǎo.
    He wants to buy both a mobile and a computer.
  • 不少人喜欢足球喜欢篮球。
    Bùshǎo rén jì xǐhuan zúqiú  xǐhuan lánqiú.
    Many people like both football and basketball.
  • 不会唱歌不会跳舞。
     bú huì chànggē  bú huì tiàowǔ.
    She can neither sing nor dance.
  • 没带伞,没带雨衣。
     méi dài sǎn,  méi dài yǔyī.
    I brought neither the umbrella nor the raincoat.
bring neither the umbrella nor the raincoat

Wrap up

  • 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… is a formal way of expressing that two qualities or situations coexist.
  • Both adjectives and verbs can be used with 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… but they have to be coordinate.
  • A variation of this structure is既 (jì)…也 (yě)… and it primarily works with verbs phrases.
  • In regular conversational Chinese, use the less formal 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu) structure instead.

Remember, grammar is the glue that holds the pieces of language together, so don’t forget to check other grammar articles on ImproveMandarin.Com’s Grammar Channel! 谢谢 (xièxie) for reading this!