HSK4 Words: 不过 (bú guò) VS 但是 (dàn shì)

Monday, February 26, 2024

Both 不过 (bú guò) and 但是 (dàn shì) are used to express contrast or opposition, but there are crucial differences between them that can make or break the flow of meaning in a sentence. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of 不过 ( guò) and 但是 (dàn shì) examining their distinct meanings and appropriate uses.

不过 ( guò) typically implies a mild contrast or opposition, often with a qualification or exception. It can be used to soften the contrast or opposition, or to introduce a caveat or qualification.


  1. Although the clothes are a bit expensive, the quality is very good.
    zhè yī fú suī rán yǒu diǎn guì , bú guò zhì liàng hěn hǎo 。
  2. I would have liked to go on a trip, but my schedule wouldn't work out.
    wǒ běn lái xiǎng qù lǚ yóu , bú guò shí jiān ān pái bù kāi 。
  3. He's not unintelligent, but just lazy.
    tā bìng fēi bù cōng míng , bú guò jiù shì lǎn 。

但是 (dàn shì) on the other hand, implies a stronger contrast or opposition, often with more emphasis on the opposition. It can be used to introduce a contrast or opposition without qualification or exception.


  1. Although he is young, he has extensive experience.
    tā suī rán nián qīng , dàn shì jīng yàn fēng fù 。
  2. Although this book is very thin, the content is very valuable.
    zhè běn shū suī rán hěn bó , dàn shì nèi róng hěn yǒu jià zhí 。
  3. The book was interesting, but some parts were a little hard to follow.
    zhè běn shū de nèi róng hěn yǒu qù , dàn shì yǒu xiē bù fèn yǒu diǎn nán yǐ lǐ jiě 。

In summary, 不过 ( guò) and 但是 (dàn shì) are two distinct words in Chinese. 不过( guò) implies a mild contrast or opposition with qualification or exception, while 但是(dàn shì) suggests a stronger contrast or opposition without qualification or exception.

Quiz: Please consider whether to use 不过 ( guò) VS 但是 (dàn shì) in the following sentences.

  1. ______是个小礼物,别太在意。
    ______ shì gè xiǎo lǐ wù , bié tài zài yì 。
  2. ______是小测验,大家不要太紧张。
    ______ shì xiǎo cè yàn , dà jiā bù yào tài jǐn zhāng 。
  3. 他的成绩虽然不是很好,______一直在努力提高。
    tā de chéng jì suī rán bú shì hěn hǎo ,______ yī zhí zài nǔ lì tí gāo 。


  1. 不过 ( guò
  2. 不过 ( guò
  3. 但是 (dàn shì)

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