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How to tell 另外(lìng wài) and 另(lìng) apart!

Are you an intermediate Chinese learner struggling with synonyms? Do you find yourself wondering which words to use in certain situations? You’re not alone! Many learners have difficulty with this aspect of the language. In this article, we’ll focus on the use of two commonly confused words: 另外 and 另. Using some helpful examples, we’ll provide a clear explanation of their differences and how to use them correctly. So, let’s get started!

(Plus, we’ll share additional HSK-related grammar tutorials to help you improve your Chinese language skills.)

另外 (lìng wài)

1. 另外 as a pronoun

You can use the pronoun “另外” to refer to people or things that haven’t been mentioned yet. It’s commonly used in phrases like


Here are some examples:

我还要跟你谈另外一件事情。(Wǒ háiyào gēn nǐ tán lìngwài yījiàn shìqing.)
There’s another thing I want to talk over with you.

这件衬衫有点儿大,你试试另外那件吧. ( 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. 另外 as an adverb

Using “另外” as an adverb, it means “in addition to what has been mentioned previously,” and is often paired with “还(hái) / 再(zài) / 又(yòu)”.

For example:

(Tā jīntiān méiyǒu shíjiān,wǒmen lìngwài zài zhǎo rén ba)
He’s not available today, shall we find another person?

3. 另外 as a conjunction

You can use “另外” as a conjunction to mean “in addition to,” which helps connect clauses or sentences.

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.

另 (lìng)

In contrast, “另” is a shortened form of “另外.” It can be used as a pronoun or adverb, just like “另外,” to refer to something or someone not previously mentioned.

However, there are also some differences between them:

1. In the structures we just reviewed with “另外,” they may or may not include “的.”  However, if “另外” is replaced by “另”, then “的” must be omitted.

For instance, to say “I’m using this computer, please use the other one,” you can say:

  • 我在用这台电脑,请你用另外/另一台吧。(√)
    (Wǒ zài yòng zhè tái diànnǎo, qǐng nǐ yòng lìngwài /lìng yītái ba.)
  • 我在用这台电脑,请你用另外的电脑吧。(√)
    (Wǒ zài yòng zhè tái diànnǎo, qǐng nǐ yòng lìngwài de diànnǎo ba.)
  • 我在用这台电脑,请你用另外的一台吧。(√)
    (Wǒ zài yòng zhè tái diànnǎo, qǐng nǐ yòng lìngwài de yītái ba.)

But you CANNOT say:

  • 我在用这台电脑,请你用另的一台吧。 (×)
    (Wǒ zài yòng zhè tái diànnǎo, qǐng nǐ yòng lìng de yītái ba.)
  • 我在用这台电脑,请你用另的电脑吧。 (×)
    (Wǒ zài yòng zhè tái diànnǎo, qǐng nǐ yòng lìng de diànnǎo ba.)

2. As an adverb, you can only use “另” to modify monosyllabic verbs, whereas “另外” has no such limitation.

For example:

(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.)
(Tā búdàn bāng wǒmen jiějué le xiànzài de wèntí, hái lìng tígòng le bùshǎo xīn de cáiliào.)
He not only helped us solve the problem, but also provided us with some new materials.

3. Finally, it is important to mention that “另外” can be used as a conjunction, whereas “另” cannot.

For example:

(Dōngjì yīnggāi duō chī shuǐguǒ. Lìngwài, háiyào jìdé duō hēshuǐ.)冬季应该多吃水果。,还要记得多喝水。(×)
(Dōngjì yīnggāi duō chī shuǐguǒ. Lìng ,háiyào jìdé duō hēshuǐ.)
You should eat more fruit in winter. Besides, remember to drink more water.

Keep in mind that in certain fixed or idiomatic phrases, such as “另有打算” (lìng yǒu dǎ suàn; have other plans) and “另立户头” (lìng lì hù tóu; open another/separate bank account), “另” is the more appropriate choice.


By following the simple steps of creating and reviewing sample sentences, you can enhance your understanding of the distinctions between “另外” and “另.” So the next time you come across these words, you will be able to use them accurately in your speech or writing. Keep practicing, and soon, you’ll master the subtle differences between a variety of Chinese synonyms.

Now, let’s do some practice:

or × 另外 另
(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?
5、 这个饭馆人很多,我们去____的一家吧。
(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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Rita Zhang

Rita is a professional Mandarin teacher, has been teaching more than 8 years. She enjoys digging more about Chinese grammar and culture work and helping more learners. Now she is working at the one-on-one online Chinese school TouchChinese.

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