How to Use 还(hái) in Chinese Grammar

还 has two sounds: “huán” and “hái”. When 还 is pronounced as “huán”, it is a verb; when it is pronounced as “hái”, it is an adverb. The adverb 还 has many uses, some of which are easily confused with the uses of “再” and “又”. In this article, we’ve compiled some common uses of “还” and given related sample sentences. If you want to learn about the difference between “还” and “再”, you can go to the 15th lesson of our HSK 3 course. Furthermore, you can read our another article to learn about the differences between “再” and “又”.

1. 还(hái) – Expressing “again” in Chinese

“还” can express “again”. In this case, “还” can be used both in interrogative and declarative sentences to indicate that the recurrence of an action or a state has not happened yet, but will happen in the future. Moreover, it can be used before an auxiliary verb 想, 要 or 应该 to emphasize someone’s subjective desire or intention for recurrence of an action or a state, and the auxiliary verb can be omitted in specific contexts.

Examples:

这个餐馆的羊肉真好吃,我们明天(要)来吗?

Zhège cānguǎn de yángròu zhēn hǎochī, wǒ míngtiān hái (yào) lái ma?

The lamb in this restaurant tastes good. Shall we come back tomorrow?

这本书很好看,我要看一遍。

Zhè běn shū hěn hǎokàn, wǒ hái yào kàn yí biàn.

This book is great. I’d like to read it again.

一次失败不要紧,我们可以再试几次。

Yí cì shībài bú yàojǐn, wǒmen hái kěyǐ zài shì jǐ cì.

One failure doesn’t matter; we can try a few more times.

2. Expressing “also” with 还(hái)

We can use 还 to express the English adverb “also”. It always comes before a verb or adjective to connect two clauses. The subject of the two clauses connected by “还” is the same.

For example

我很冷,很饿。

Wǒ hěn lěng, hái hěn è.

I’m cold, and I’m also hungry.

他是一名老师,是一位作家。

Tā shì yì míng lǎoshī, háishi yí wèi zuòjiā.

He is a teacher and he is also a writer.

除了跑步,他喜欢打篮球。

Chúle pǎo bù, tā hái xǐhuan dǎ lánqiú.

Besides running, he also likes playing basketball.

3. Expressing “still” with 还(hái)

还 can also be used to indicate that the state continues to exist or that the action is still in progress. The negative form is “还没(notyet)”.

Examples:

离成功远着呢!

Lí chénggōng hái yuǎnzhe ne!

Success is still a long way off.

这么多年没见,你是那么漂亮!

Zhème duō nián méi jiàn, nǐ háishi nàme piàoliang!

I haven’t seen you in years, but you’re still as pretty as before.

这么晚了,你没写完作业吗?

Zhème wǎn le, nǐ hái méi xiěwán zuòyè ma?

Haven’t you finished your homework yet at this late hour?

4. Expressing “even more” with 还(hái)

When used in a comparison, 还 indicates a higher degree. The structure is:

Noun 1 + 比(bǐ) + Noun 2 + 还 + Adj.

For example

公司今年的业绩去年的好。

Gōngsī jīnnián de yèjì qùnián de hái hǎo .

The company’s performance this year is better than that of last year.

你说的汉语中国人说的好。

Nǐ shuō de Hànyǔ Zhōngguó rén shuō de hái hǎo.

You speak better Chinese than native speakers.

天气预报说明天会今天冷。

Tiānqì yùbào shuō míngtiān huì jīntiān hái lěng.

The weather forecast says it will be colder tomorrow than today.

5. Weakening positive adjectives with 还(hái)

Sometimes we will prefix positive adjectives with “还”, which indicates that something is not so good, but it is passable or acceptable.

Examples:

他的心情不错。

Tā de xīnqíng hái búcuò.

He was in good mood.

这次考试我考的可以。

Zhè cì kǎoshì wǒ kǎo de hái kěyǐ.

I did okay in the exam.

这个房间算安静。

Zhège fángjiān hái suàn ānjìng.

This room is quite.

6. Expressing the tone of the speaker’s voice

“还” can be used to express a tone of praise, surprise, shock or sarcasm.

真是个小机灵鬼!

hái zhēnshì ge xiǎo jīlíngguǐ!

He’s really a smart little guy!

这么简单的问题你都不会,大学生呢!

Zhème jiǎndān de wèntí nǐ dōu bú huì, hái dàxuésheng ne!

You can’t even answer such a simple question, yet you are a college student!

以为已经完工了呢。

hái yǐwéi yǐjīng wángōng le ne.

I thought the work had already been completed.



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