除了…以外 (chúle…yǐwài) in Chinese grammar: apart from, except, in addition
除了…以外 (chúle…yǐwài) is often considered one of the core, ‘basic’ patterns in Chinese grammar. It’s included in pretty much every Chinese textbook and course. That’s because it’s really common and really useful! You can use it to express “apart from”, “except” and “addition to”. For the main part of this structure, you just put the exception or addition in between 除了 and 以外:
That can then be used to express “apart from something” or “in addition to something”, depending on what comes after it in the sentence. Let’s have a look at each one in turn.
除了…以外: “apart from”, “except”
This may be the most common use of 除了…以外. You use the structure described above, and follow it with 都:
You can use this to express anything along the lines of “apart from A, B all…” in English. Have a look at some example sentences:
除了小李以外，其他学生都回答错了。Apart from Xiao Li, all the students answered incorrectly.
除了这个词以外，我都看得懂。I understand all of it except for this word.
除了炒饭以外，她什么都不会做。Apart from fried rice, she can't cook anything at all.
Notice how in these sentences 除了…以外 is paired with 都. When it’s paired with 都, it means “apart from” except.
除了…以外: “in addition”
To express “in addition” or “as well as”, all you do is change the adverb that comes after 除了…以外. This time, you use 还 or 也. Have a look at some example sentences:
除了中文以外，他还学过德文。As well as Chinese, he's also studied German.
除了咖啡以外，我也喜欢喝茶。As well as coffee, I also like to drink tea.
除了工资以外，我还有一些其他的收入。In addition to my salary, I also have some other sources of income.
Notice how you could actually translate these sentences using “apart from” in English. The point is that the function is different in this second set of sentences. They’re inclusive, whereas the first set above are exclusive.
This can be a source of confusion for people learning Chinese. Just remember that 除了…以外 can be used to exclude things (“apart from”) or include things (“in addition to”). It’s very versatile!
Omitting 除了 or 以外
The next thing to note about 除了…以外 is that one half of it is often left out. So you’ll often see or hear sentences with just 除了 or just 以外, and not both. The structure is still the same, it’s just that one part has been skipped out.
Have a look at some example sentences:
除了法国，我们也想去西班牙。As well as France, we'd also like to go Spain.
春节以外，中国还有什么节日？Apart from Spring Festival, what other holidays does China have?
银河系以外，还有多少星系？Apart from the Milky Way, what other galaxies are there?
除了我们地球，太阳系还有七个星球。There are seven more planets in the Solar System besides Earth.
That turned a bit astronomical for some reason! And before anyone complains about the accuracy of that last sentence: Pluto is not a planet! Anyway, just remember that either 除了 or 以外 can often be omitted from a sentence.
除了…以外 with various adverbs
We described the different functions of 除了…以外 (inclusive and exclusive) above, and you might have noticed that the important difference is the adverb that comes afterwards. In other words, what the sentence means centres around that adverb!
With that in mind, let’s have a look at four different adverbs that you might use after 除了…以外. Three of them were already covered above, but it can’t hurt to get some more example sentences for them!
As mentioned above, using 都 after 除了…以外 makes it exclusive. 都 means “all”, so you’re saying “apart from X, Y all…“. Have a look at a couple more example sentences:
除了我以外，大家都吃过饭了。Apart from me, everyone has eaten.
除了她以外，其他人都穿着牛仔裤。Except for her, everyone was wearing jeans.
So, 都 makes a 除了…以外 sentence exclusive. It’s equivalent to “except for” or “apart from” in English.
If you follow 除了…以外 with 还, it becomes inclusive. This is because 还 means “still” or “also”. You’re saying “As well as X, Y _also _does something.” Have a look at some more example sentences:
除了钱以外，他还担心他的健康。As well as money, he also worries about his health.
除了丈夫以外，她还有一个情人。As well as her husband, she also has a lover.
除了能力以外，我还缺乏耐心。As well as ability, I also lack patience.
Hopefully you can now see how the adverb that comes after 除了…以外 determines whether it’s inclusive or exclusive.
As well as 还, you can also use 也 to express inclusion*. Some examples:
除了学生以外，老师也在这里吃饭。As well as students, teachers also eat here.
他除了抱怨以外，什么也没做。He did nothing but complain.
You might have noticed that the first sentence could be interpreted differently if you have a devious mind. Rather than meaning “apart from students, teachers also eat here”, it could mean “as well as food, teachers also eat students here”! Don’t worry though, most people would interpret it the first way!
- For those who spotted that this is an inclusive sentence and were wondering how to say it in Chinese, you could phrase it like this:
除了“还”以外，还可以用“也”来表达包含的意思。As well as 还, you can also use 也 to express inclusion.
Don’t worry if that sentence is a bit tricky though, we just included it for those who might be curious.
Finally, you can also use 又 with 除了…以外. This literally means “again” or “then”, but is often more like “also” in these sentences. Have a look at some examples:
除了在家里喝的红酒，我又喝了四杯啤酒。Apart from the red wine I drank at home, I also had four beers.
除了举重以外，我今天又跑了一会儿步。Apart from lifting weights, I also went running for a while today.
除了这个以外，又没有什么好办法。Apart from this, there aren't any good options.
Like 还 and 也, 又 forms inclusive sentences with 除了…以外.
Different versions of 除了…以外
The above is more than enough to be able to understand things like “apart from” and “in addition” in Chinese. We even included some fairly difficult sentences for this level, just to keep you on your toes! If you’re still in the mood for more advanced material, though, you might be interested in this different ‘versions’ of 除了…以外.
You can make 除了…以外 more formal by changing the 以 into 之. It works exactly the same, it just sounds a bit more formal. Have a look at some example sentences, and don’t worry if one or two of them seem quite hard at the moment. They’ll seem easy if you keep studying!
除了衣服之外，我们工厂还生产鞋子。As well as clothes, our factory also produces shoes.
除了你之外，我一无所有。Apart from you, I have nothing.
除了鲜血、辛劳、泪水和汗水之外，我没有什么可奉献的。I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
That last sentence really is pretty difficult at this level, but you might find it interesting if you recognise the quote! 一无所有 is a set phrase meaning “to have nothing at all”. It’s also the title of a famous Chinese rock song.
Finally, there’s a formal set phrase: 除此之外. If you didn’t know already, the character 此 is just a formal way of saying “this”. So this set phrase simply means “apart from this” or “in addition”. Note that you can’t split this phrase up or insert other things into it.
除此之外 is often used in Chinese writing as a conjunction or connector. You say one point, then add a related one using 除此之外. It can also be used in everyday speech as a convenient way to say “besides…” Have a look at some examples:
除此之外，我还有更多。I've got plenty more besides that.
除此之外，就没有什么好办法了。There's no good way to do apart from this.
除此之外，我认为她的论点还些缺陷。As well as that, I think her argument still has further flaws.
If you have any questions or suggestions, please share them in the comments below! We always like to get feedback.
- “Except” and “in addition” with “chule… yiwai” - Chinese Grammar Wiki
- Common Chinese Conjunctions - Oxford
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