Chinese Pattern 尽管… 但是… (jǐnguǎn… dànshì…): The Complete Guide

jinguan danshi

You might have been familiar with the pattern 虽然 (suīrán)… 但是 (dànshì)… for a while, but when you reach an intermediate level in Chinese, another common pattern 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)… shouldn’t be something new. It’s very much like the expression “Even though …, ….” in English. However, to use it correctly, you need to pay attention to a few details that you might easily overlook.

In this article, we’ll first take a look at how the pattern 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)… is used in practice, and then we’ll explore its difference with some similar expressions such as 虽然 (suīrán)… 但是 (dànshì)…, 即使 (jíshǐ )… 也 (yě)…, which many learners find confusing. Finally, we’ll take a look at how 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) is used in combination with other conjunctions or adverbs in Chinese.

Let’s get started!

How to Use 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)…, which can be translated as “even though” and “but” respectively, are two common conjunctions in Chinese. They can be used as a pair in a sentence to express the adversative transition “Even though (…), (…)”.

Just as 虽然 (suīrán), whenever you start a sentence with “尽管 (jǐnguǎn)”, you have to follow it up with “但是 (dànshì)” (or other transition words alike – we’ll get to that in a minute).

尽管他赚了很多钱,但是他不快乐。
Jǐnguǎn tā zhuàn le hěn duō qián, dànshì tā bú kuàilè.
Literally, “Even though he earned a lot of money, but he is not happy.”

尽管外面阳光明媚,但是我不想出门。
Jǐnguǎn wàimiàn yángguāng míngmèi, dànshì wǒ bù xiǎng chūmén.
Literally, “Even though outside is bright and sunny, but I don’t want to go out.”

The first clause beginning with 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) expresses background information, while the second clause beginning with 但是 (dànshì) expresses the fact or conclusion you assert. If you drop the “但是 (dànshì)”, the sentence would be incorrect.

  • × 尽管他赚了很多钱,他不快乐。
    Jǐnguǎn tā zhuàn le hěn duō qián, tā bú kuàilè.
    You have to put a “but” before the second clause!
  • × 尽管外面阳光明媚,我不想出门。
    Jǐnguǎn wàimiàn yángguāng míngmèi, wǒ bù xiǎng chūmén.
    Again, you really have to put a “but” before the second clause!
Jinguan Danshi example sentence in Chinese

You can place 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) either at the beginning of the sentence or after the subject as you like in Chinese.

尽管赚了很多钱,但是不快乐。
Tā jǐnguǎn zhuàn le hěn duō qián, dànshì tā bú kuàilè.
Literally, “He even though earned a lot of money, but not happy.”

外面尽管阳光明媚,但是我不想出门。
Wàimiàn jǐnguǎn yángguāng míngmèi, dànshì wǒ bù xiǎng chūmén.
Literally, “Outside even though is bright and sunny, but I don’t want to go out.”

Take note when both clauses share the same subject and you begin the sentence with it, the subject in the second clause must be omitted. Essentially, it follows the subject-predicate structure, in which the subject can only appear once.

Let’s see more examples!

  • 尽管我知道,但是我什么都没说。
    Jǐnguǎn wǒ zhīdào, dànshì wǒ shénme dōu méi shuō.
    Even though I knew, (but) I didn’t say anything.

    → 我尽管知道,但是什么都没说。
    jǐnguǎn zhīdào, dànshì shénme dōu méi shuō.
  • 尽管我喜欢城市,但是我更热爱乡村生活。
    Jǐnguǎn wǒ xǐhuan chéngshì, dànshì wǒ gèng rè’ài xiāngcūn shēnghuó.
    Even though I like cities, (but) I love country life more.

    → 我尽管喜欢城市,但是更热爱乡村生活。
    jǐnguǎn xǐhuan chéngshì, dànshì gèng rè’ài xiāngcūn shēnghuó.
  • 尽管他经验最少,但是他教得最好。
    Jǐnguǎn tā jīngyàn zuì shǎo, dànshì tā jiāo de zuì hǎo.
    Even though he has the least experience, (but) he teaches best.

    → 他尽管经验最少,但是教得最好。
    Tā jǐnguǎn jīngyàn zuì shǎo, dànshì jiāo de zuì hǎo.
  • 尽管她学习很努力,但是她几乎没取得什么进步。
    Jǐnguǎn tā xuéxí hěn nǔlì, dànshì tā jīhū méi qǔdé shénme jìnbù.
    Even though she studies very hard, (but) she barely made any progress.

    → 她尽管学习很努力,但是几乎没取得什么进步。
    jǐnguǎn xuéxí hěn nǔlì, dànshì jīhū méi qǔdé shénme jìnbù.
  • 尽管我们认识多年,但是我们不是朋友。
    Jǐnguǎn wǒmen rènshi duō nián, dànshì wǒmen búshì péngyou.
    Even though we’ve known (each other) for years, (but) we are not friends.

    → 我们尽管认识多年,但是不是朋友。
    Wǒmen jǐnguǎn rènshi duō nián, dànshì búshì péngyou.
  • 尽管这次聚会上我谁也不认识,但是我玩得挺痛快。
    Jǐnguǎn zhè cì jùhuì shàng wǒ shéi yě bú rènshi, dànshì wǒ wán de tǐng tòngkuài.
    Even though I didn’t know anybody at the party, I had a great time.

    → 这次聚会上我尽管谁也不认识,但是玩得挺痛快。
    Zhè cì jùhuì shàng wǒ jǐnguǎn shéi yě bú rènshi, dànshì wán de tǐng tòngkuài.
  • 尽管爱迪生一次又一次失败,但是他始终没放弃。
    Jǐnguǎn Àidíshēng yí cì yòu yí cì shībài, dànshì tā shǐzhōng méi fàngqì.
    Even though Edison failed time after time, (but) he never gave up.

    → 爱迪生尽管一次又一次失败,但是始终没放弃。
    Àidíshēng jǐnguǎn yí cì yòu yí cì shībài, dànshì shǐzhōng méi fàngqì.
How to Use 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)... 但是 (dànshì)...

When there are two subjects in the sentence, you obviously don’t want to omit either of them, otherwise, the meaning will be unclear.

  • 尽管原子已经很小了,但是质子更小。
    Jǐnguǎn yuánzǐ yǐjīng hěn xiǎo le, dànshì zhìzǐ gèng xiǎo.
    Even though an atom is already very small, (but) a proton is even smaller.

    原子尽管已经很小了,但是质子更小。
    Yuánzǐ jǐnguǎn yǐjīng hěn xiǎo le, dànshì zhìzǐ gèng xiǎo.
  • 尽管我不愿意相信,但是这的确是发生了。
    Jǐnguǎn wǒ bú yuànyì xiāngxìn, dànshì zhè díquè shì fāshēng le.
    Even though I am not willing to believe, (but) this indeed happened.

    尽管不愿意相信,但是这的确是发生了。
    Wǒ jǐnguǎn bú yuànyì xiāngxìn, dànshì zhè díquè shì fāshēng le.
  • 尽管乔布斯去世十多年了,但是我们时刻记得他对人类的贡献。
    Jǐnguǎn Qiáobùsī qùshì shí duō nián le, dànshì wǒmen shíkè jìdé tā duì rénlèi de gòngxiàn.
    Even though Jobs passed away more than ten years ago, (but) we remember his contribution to mankind all the time.

    乔布斯尽管去世十多年了,但是我们时刻记得他对人类的贡献。
    Qiáobùsī Jǐnguǎn qùshì shí duō nián le, dànshì wǒmen shíkè jìdé tā duì rénlèi de gòngxiàn.
Example of 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)... 但是 (dànshì)... in Chinese

Short Version: 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但 (dàn)

In spoken Chinese, the word 但是 (dànshì) is often shortened to 但 (dàn). You can use 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但 (dàn)… instead of 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)… to sound more concise. It works exactly the same.

  • 尽管他赚了很多钱,他不快乐。
    Jǐnguǎn tā zhuàn le hěn duō qián, dàn tā bú kuàilè.
    (Even though) he earned a lot of money, but he is not happy.
  • 尽管外面阳光明媚,我不想出门。
    Jǐnguǎn wàimiàn yángguāng míngmèi, dàn wǒ bù xiǎng chūmén.
    (Even though) outside is bright and sunny, but I don’t want to go out.

Using 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) by Itself

尽管 (jǐnguǎn) can be used independently to lead the second clause in a sentence. This is equivalent to saying “(…), even though (…)” in English.

  • 他不快乐,尽管他赚了很多钱。
    Tā bú kuàilè, jǐnguǎn tā zhuàn le hěn duō qián.
    He is not happy, even though he earned a lot of money.
  • 我不想出门,尽管外面阳光明媚。
    Wǒ bù xiǎng chūmén, jǐnguǎn wàimiàn yángguāng míngmèi.
    I don’t want to go out, even though it’s bright and sunny outside.

Using 但是 (dànshì) by Itself

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)… is a rather formal expression in Chinese, and you’ll mainly want to use it in writing and formal speech situations, or when you want to stress the background information. In daily conversations, people often just use 但是 (dànshì) or its shortened version 但 (dàn) in the sense of “but”.

  • 他赚了很多钱,但(是)他不快乐。
    Tā zhuàn le hěn duō qián, dàn(shì) tā bú kuàilè.
    He earned a lot of money, but he’s not happy.
  • 外面阳光明媚,但(是)我不想出门。
    Wàimiàn yángguāng míngmèi, dàn(shì) wǒ bù xiǎng chūmén.
    It’s bright and sunny outside, but I don’t want to go out.

There are also other words for “but” in Chinese that you can use to sound even more causal  such as 可是 (kěshì) and 不过 (búguò). They have slightly different implications, and we’ve written a detailed post for comparison, read here.

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)… VS 虽然 (suīrán)… 但是 (dànshì)

Both “尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)…”  and “虽然 (suīrán)… 但是 (dànshì)…” can be used to express conflict, contradiction, concession, and dismissal in Chinese. Most of the time, the words “尽管 (jǐnguǎn)” and “虽然 (suīrán)” are interchangeable.

  • √ 尽管他经验最少,但是他教得最好。
    Jǐnguǎn tā jīngyàn zuì shǎo, dànshì tā jiāo de zuì hǎo.
    Even though he has the least experience, (but) he teaches best.
  • √ 虽然他经验最少,但是他教得最好。
    Suīrán tā jīngyàn zuì shǎo, dànshì tā jiāo de zuì hǎo.
    Although he has the least experience, (but) he teaches best.

It is possible to simply use 虽然 (suīrán) instead of 尽管 (jǐnguǎn), but 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) makes a sentence look more emphatic. You can think of it as “despite the fact”. It carries a stronger tone and is used to convey the impression that an unexpected result was obtained despite the fact.

Therefore, if you want to make a strong statement, then 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) is the word to go. In the following sentence, for example, it would be more appropriate to use 尽管 (jǐnguǎn).

尽管大楼即将倒塌,但是消防员没有停止解救被困人员。
Jǐnguǎn dàlóu jíjiāng dǎotā, dànshì xiāofángyuán méiyǒu tíngzhǐ jiějiù bèi kùn rényuán.
Despite the fact that the building is about to collapse, (but) the firemen did not cease to rescue the people trapped inside.

Here, you can use 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) to highlight to listeners the extraordinary risk that the firemen were facing.

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)... 但是 (dànshì)... VS 虽然 (suīrán)... 但是 (dànshì)...

On the other side of the spectrum, 虽然 (suīrán) is a word with a neutral connotation. It describes a fact, and nothing more (no emotions are attached). The background information is just mentioned, rather than stressed.

外面虽然下着小雨,但是我还是出去跑步了。
Wàimiàn suīrán xià zhe xiǎoyǔ, dànshì wǒ háishì chūqù pǎobù le.
Although it’s drizzling outside, I still went out for jogging.

You can simply use 虽然 (suīrán) here, because the obstacle is certainly not something out of the ordinary and normally doesn’t merit emphasizing.

We’ve also written a detailed post on the use of 虽然 (suīrán)… 但是 (dànshì)…, read here.

Additional Meaning of 尽管 (jǐnguǎn): feel free to

Besides working as the strong “虽然 (suīrán)”, 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) has an additional usage as an adverb that 虽然 (suīrán) cannot replace: express “feel free to…”, “don’t hesitate to…”.

  • 有什么问题,尽管和我联系。
    Yǒu shénme wèntí, jǐnguǎn hé wǒ liánxì.
    If (you) have any questions, feel free to contact me.
  • 尽管吃,菜还多着呢!
    Nǐ jǐnguǎn chī, cài hái duō zhe ne!
    Eat to your heart’s content, more dishes are coming!

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)… VS 即使 (jíshǐ )… 也 ()

If you are an intermediate or advanced learner, you might be acquainted with another pattern in Chinese “即使 (jíshǐ )… 也 (yě)…”, and wondering if there is any difference between the two.

Essentially, 即使 (jíshǐ ) works as “even if” in English and is used for hypothetical situations that are just imagined and have not taken place yet, while 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) talks of a fact from the past or in the present.

Compare these,

即使我有钱,我不会买这块手表。
Jíshǐ wǒ yǒu qián,  yě bú huì mǎi zhè kuài shǒubiǎo.
Even if I had the money, I would not buy this watch.

I would not buy the watch even when I have the money as it is very expensive.

尽管我有钱,但是我不会买这块手表。
Jǐnguǎn wǒ yǒu qián, dànshì wǒ bú huì mǎi zhè kuài shǒubiǎo.
Even though I have the money, I won’t buy this watch.

I have the money now, I just won’t buy the watch.

Other 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) Combinations

As we mentioned earlier, 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) does not only work 但是 (dànshì) but also a couple of other transition words alike. Let’s take a look at some most common combinations.  

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 可是 (kěshì)…  

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 可是 (kěshì)… is used less frequently compared with 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)…, since 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… is rather formal while 可是 (kěshì) is quite causal, making them a less ideal match, but you can use this construction in the sense of “Even though…, but (unfortunately/regretfully)…”. The word 可是 (kěshì) is usually associated with negative sentiments, e.g. disappointment, frustration, regret, pity, etc.

  • 尽管我很想参加聚会,可是今晚我得加班。
    Jǐnguǎn wǒ hěn xiǎng cānjiā jùhuì, kěshì jīnwǎn wǒ děi jiābān.
    Literally, “Although I would very much like to go to the party, but (unfortunately) I have to work extra hours tonight.”
  • 尽管我很同情她,可是我无法帮到她。
    Jǐnguǎn wǒ hěn tóngqíng tā, kěshì wǒ wú fǎ bāng dào tā.
    (Even though) I emphasize with her, but (regretfully) I could not help her.

Just as 但是 (dànshì) can be shortened to 但(dàn), 可是 (kěshì) is often shortened to 可 (kě) in spoken Chinese.

  • 这场比赛我们尽管很努力,最后还是输了。
    Zhè chǎng bǐsài wǒmen jǐnguǎn hěn nǔlì,  zuìhòu háishì shū le.
    We (even although) fought very hard in the game, but (unfortunately) in the end, still lost.

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 却 (què)

The adverb 却 (què) works as the “surprised” but in Chinese. You can begin the second clause of a sentence with 却 (què) to express that the fact or conclusion that you assert is contrary to what may be normally expected.

  • 尽管是北京人,却从未吃过北京烤鸭
    Tā jǐnguǎn shì Běijīng rén, què cóngwèi chī guò Běijīng kǎoyā.
    She (even though) is from Beijing, but (surprisingly) has never tasted Peking Duck.
  • 尽管个子矮,能跳得很高。
     jǐnguǎn gèzi ǎi, què néng tiào de hěn gāo.
    He (even though) is of short stature, but (unexpectedly) can jump quite high.
  • 尽管中国有十四亿人,找不出十一个会踢球的人。
    Jǐnguǎn Zhōngguó yǒu shí sì yì rén, què zhǎo bùchū shí yī gè huì tī qiú de rén.
    (Even though) there are 1.4 billion people in China, but (surprisingly) (you) can’t find eleven people who can play soccer.
Chinese Pattern 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)... 却 (què)...

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 还是 (háishì)…

尽管 (jǐnguǎn) can be paired with 还是 (háishì) and a couple of its synonyms such as 仍然 (réng rán), 仍旧 (réng jiù), 依然 (yī rán), 依旧 (yī jiù) to express “Even though…, (but) still…”.

  • 尽管做了大量准备,还是没通过考试。
    Wǒ jǐnguǎn zuò le dàliàng zhǔnbèi, háishì méi tōngguò kǎoshì.
    I (even though) did lots of preparation, (but) still didn’t pass the exam.  
  • 尽管外面下着大雨,他依然出去跑步了。
    Jǐnguǎn wàimiàn xià zhe dà yǔ, tā yīrán chūqù pǎobù le.
    (Even though) it’s raining heavily outside, (but) he still went outside for jogging.

但是 (dànshì) often comes along with these words in the same clause to make the sentence look more emphatic.

  • 尽管非常困难,但是还是完成了自己的目标。
    Jǐnguǎn fēicháng kùnnan, dànshì tā háishì wánchéng le zìjǐ de mùbiāo.
    (Even though) it’s very difficult, but he still accomplished his goal.
  • 尽管病人只有一线生机,但是医生仍旧不离不弃。
    Jǐnguǎn bìngrén zhǐyǒu yíxiànshēngjī, dànshì yīshēng réngjiù bùlíbúqì.
    (Even though) the patient only has a slim chance of living, but the doctors still don’t give up.

Grammar Summary: jinguan…danshi…

尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但是 (dànshì)…, which can be shortened to 尽管 (jǐnguǎn)… 但 (dàn)… is a fixed pattern in Chinese used to express adversative transition equivalent to “Even though (…),(…)” in English. It’s interchangeable with 虽然 (suīrán)… 但是 (dànshì)… most of the time, but carries a stronger tone and is typically used to convey the impression that unexpected result was obtained despite the fact.

Whenever you start a sentence with “尽管 (jǐnguǎn)”, you have to follow it up with “但是 (dànshì)” or words alike, such as 可是 (kěshì), 却 (què), 还是 (háishì), etc. 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) can be placed either at the beginning of the sentence or after the subject, but when both clauses share the same subject, the subject in the second clause needs to be omitted. In some contexts, 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) and 但是 (dànshì) can be used separately. 尽管 (jǐnguǎn) has an additional meaning 虽然 (suīrán) doesn’t have: feel free to.

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 post!