又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… Structure in Chinese: All You Need to Know

chinese-grammar-you-you-structure

又 (yòu)又 (yòu) is considered one of the most essential, “basic” patterns in Chinese grammar. It’s included in pretty much every Chinese textbook and course. That’s because it’s really common in daily conversation and super useful! It can be used to express “both A and B” or “both do A and do B”, depending on what comes after it in the sentence. Let’s have a look at each one in turn.

Use 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… to Express both A and B

The word “又 (yòu)” can be used to attribute multiple qualities to something. Using the double 又 (yòu) structure with adjectives is like saying that something is “both adj 1 and adj 2” in English.

Pattern

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

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

It’s worth pointing out that the two words used after 又 (yòu) should not have any contrast connotations. As a pair, they must be either positive or negative. That is, 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 have a look at some examples:

Positive pair

  • 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.
  • 她老公有钱有才。
    Tā lǎogōng yòu yǒuqián yòu yǒucái.
    Her husband is both rich and talented.
  • 坐高铁经济舒适。
    Zuò gāotiě yòu jīngjì yòu shūshì.
    Taking the high-speed train is both economic and comfortable.
  • 这苹果看上去不错,圆。
    Zhè píngguǒ kànshàngqù búcuò, yòu dà yòu yuán.
    The apple looks good, both big and round.
  • 我们叫外卖吧!便宜!
    Wǒmen jiào wàimài ba! Yòu kuài yòu piányi!
    Let’s order food delivery! Both fast and cheap!
both fast and cheap

Negative pair

  • 我住的公寓破。
    Wǒ zhù de gōngyù yòu xiǎo yòu pò.
    The apartment I live in is both small and run-down.
  • 上海的夏天热。
    Shànghǎi de xiàtiān yòu mēn yòu rè.
    The summer in Shanghai is both muggy and hot.
  • 你说的话气人可笑。
    Nǐ shuō de huà yòu qìrén yòu kěxiào.
    What you said is both maddening and laughable.
  • 这个包真是不实用!
    Zhè ge bāo zhēnshì yòu guì yòu bù shíyòng!
    This bag is both expensive and impractical.
  • 走了一天,它累又
    Zǒu le yì tiān, tā yòu lèi yòu kùn.
    Having walked for a day, it’s both tired and sleepy.
both tired and sleepy

Use 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… to Express both do A and do B

又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… not only works with adjectives, but also works with verb phrases to express “both do A and do B”.

Pattern 

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

  • 是法国人是意大利人。
    yòu shì Fǎguó rén yòu shì Yìdàlì rén.
    He is both French and Italian.
    (literally, he both is French and is Italian)
  • 会唱歌会跳舞。
    yòu huì chànggē yòu huì tiàowǔ.
    She can both sing and dance.
    (she both can sing and can dance)
  • 想买手机想买手表。
    yòu xiǎng mǎi shǒujī yòu xiǎng mǎi shǒubiǎo.
    He wants to buy both a mobile and a watch.
    (he both wants to buy a mobile and wants to buy a watch)
  • 最近我很忙,要上学要打工。
    Zuìjìn wǒ hěn máng, yòu 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)
  • 老婆不在家时,他当爹当妈。
    Lǎopo bú zài jiā shí, tā yòu dāng diē yòu dāng mā 。
    When her wife is not home, he serves as both dad and mom.
    (he both serves as dad and serves as mom)
serving as both Dad and Mom

You can also use 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… before verb phrases in the negative. In this case, the structure can be translated as “neither…nor…”.

  • 不会唱歌不会跳舞。
    yòu bú huì chànggē yòu bú huì tiàowǔ.
    She can neither sing nor dance.
    (literally, she both can’t sing and can’t dance)
  • 他又不要上学又不要打工。
    yòu bú yào shàngxué yòu bú yào dǎgōng.
    He neither needs to go to school nor needs to do odd jobs.
    (he both doesn’t need to go to school and doesn’t need to do odd jobs)

You must have noticed that in each of the above examples, the same main verb is used repeatedly in verb phrase 1 and 2  (i.e. 又 yòu shì….又yòu shì…, 又 yòu huì…又 yòu huì…). This has little to do with grammar, but rather a language habit. It’s a common practice that native speakers stick to the same main verb in the 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… structure to pair up the two verb phrases. It just sounds more coordinate and natural this way.

While a 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… sentence containing different main verbs is not faulty itself in grammar, depending on what you say, it could sound anything from acceptable to horrible in Chinese. (if it helps, imagine someone saying “ she’s as gorgeous as that mantis” – perfect grammar, but sounds terrible!).

That said, some selected 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… and verb combinations work perfectly well in Chinese. The two verbs in the sentence are usually synonyms (like “shout” and “yell” ) or logically relevant (like “run” and “jump”, “sing” and “dance”). You can think of them as fixed expressions.

Here are some examples:


  • yòu chī yòu hē
    both eat and drink

  • yòu chàng yòu tiào
    both sing and dance

  • yòu kū yòu nào
    both cry and stir up trouble

  • yòu dǎ yòu mà
    both hit and scold
  • 刮风下雨
    yòu guāfēng yòu xiàyǔ
    both wind blows and rain falls
both windy and rainy

The list can go on. Don’t worry, you’ll pick up the pattern quickly by observing how native speakers pair up verbs in real life.

Formal Version of 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)…

You can replace the first “又 (yòu)” in the “又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)…” combo with “既 (jì)”, and make it 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)… to give it a more serious tone.  

邻居的小孩聪明可爱。Línjū de xiǎohái yòu cōngmíng yòu kě’ài.
→ 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.

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

It has the same meaning and works the same way, it just sounds more formal. You are more likely to encounter the “既 (jì)…又 (yòu)…” combo than “又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)…” in TV news, books, magazines, etc. In regular conversational Chinese, however, it’s used much less. (we’ve written a detailed post for 既 jì…又 yòu… as well, read here)

又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… VS 一边 (yìbiān)…一边 (yìbiān)...

We’ve talked about the use of another expression “一边 (yìbiān)…一边 (yìbiān)…” (commonly translated as “while” in English) in an earlier post (read here). Some learners might get it mixed up with the 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… structure. In case you haven’t figured out their differences, here is what you should know.

1. 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… works with both adjectives and verbs. 一边 (yìbiān)…一边 (yìbiān)… only works with verbs.

  • × 她一边聪明一边可爱。
    Tā yìbiān cōngmíng yībiān kě’ài.
    Never use adjectives with 一边 (yìbiān)!
  • √ 她聪明可爱。
    yòu cōngmíng yòu kě’ài.
    She’s both smart and cute.

2. 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… expresses that two separate qualities or situations coexist (yep, just like Schrödinger’s cat!)

  • √ 她会唱歌会跳舞。
    yòu huì chànggē yòu huì tiàowǔ.
    She can both sing and dance.
    (the two qualities coexist)
  • √ 他是法国人是意大利人。
    yòu shì Fǎguó rén yòu shì Yìdàlì rén.
    He is both French and Italian.
    (the two situations coexist)

一边 (yìbiān)…一边 (yìbiān)… however, should only be used when you carry out two tasks at once (the task itself should be intentional and ongoing).

  • √ 她可以一边唱歌一边跳舞。
    Tā kěyǐ yìbiān chànggē yìbiān tiàowǔ.
    She is capable of singing at the same time while dancing.
    (singing & dancing is done simultaneously)
  • × 他一边是法国人一边是意大利人。
    yìbiān shì Fǎguó rén yìbiān shì Yìdàlì rén.
    “being a … citizen” is a situation, not an “intentional, ongoing task”!

Wrap up

  • 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… expresses that two qualities or situations coexist.
  • Both adjectives and verbs can be used after 又 (yòu)… but they have to be coordinate.
  • The formal version of 又 (yòu)…又 (yòu)… is 既 (jì)…又 (yòu)…

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!