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What is the difference in usage between 因此, 所以, 由于, and 于是?

These are all very closely related as far as I can tell, similar to the English "therefore", "thus", "because", "so", "since". But I'm wonder if there is a similar difference in formality between some of these words like there is between "therefore/thus" and "since/so/because". Also, "so" should not start a sentence, but "therefore" and "thus" can.

For learning: Chinese (Mandarin)
Base language: English
Category: Language


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    Many of these connective words all mean roughly the same, but where they differ most in in their usage, that is, set patterns of usage that you can't go switching up willy-nilly. The English sentences, for the most part, relies on these connective words, and as such they are indispensable to the sentence but Chinese, much to our dismay, is much trickier in that these connective words are often left out, especially in oral language. Luckily, written Chinese usually will follow stricter patterns of usage, but the disparity between oral and written Chinese is definitely in my opinion one of the biggest hurdles in keeping straight while learning Chinese!

    Anyways: I'll transcribe the basics of each word from a reference book for ya.

    由于:Conjunction, shows reason. It's used in the first part of a complex cause-and-effect sentence, the second part shows the result. It often has "所以、因此、因而” to echo it. For example:


    * When the subject in both parts of the sentence is the same, 由于 can be placed both before and after the subject. If they're different, then it can only be placed before it.

    Compared with 因为:
    (1)因为 can be used in the sentence's second part, but 由于 can't. (他们和父母住在一起,因为他们还没有自己的房子)由于 is incorrect here
    (2) While 由于 often goes with 因此,因为 very infrequently does.
    (3) 由于 is used more in written Chinese, while 因为 is used both in oral and written.

    因此:conjunction, shows result.
    1. It's used in the second part of a complex cause-and-effect sentence, it can be used alone, or with 由于。When the subject is the same in both parts, 因此 can be used both in front of the subject and behind, but when they're different, it can only be used in front. For example:

    2. When it's used in the middle of a sentence, 因此 often carries a negative word like 也、都、etc, the meaning thus becomes "because of this reason." For example:
    今天是星期六,天气预报说有暴雨,但是很多人并不因此而不敢出门。(Today's Saturday, the weather forecast said there was gonna be downpours, but the reason why many people don't dare leave their homes is not because of this all) clunky sentence, but you get it

    因此 and 因为:
    1: 因为 can be a conjunction as well as a preposition, whereas 因此 can only be a conjunction.
    2: When 因为 is a conjunction, what's connected afterwards is the reason, whereas what 因此 connects is the result.
    3: 因此 can combine with 由于,but 因为 can't.
    4: 因为 can be used in both oral and written Chinese, while 因此 is used much more in written Chinese.

    所以:因为 and 所以 go together like peas in a pod. Typical cause-and-effect sentence. 因为 demonstrates cause, while 所以 does result. When the subject's the same in both parts of the sentence, it can be placed before 因为,after 因为,or after 所以。All are fine. But when the subjects are different, both can only be placed in front of the subject.

    Note: When the part of the sentence expressing the result is the first part, that is, 因为 is in the second part, then you can't use 所以 in the first part. For example:
    所以 can stand just fine on its own, without the echoing services of 因为。eg:

    When you're telling a story, if you wanna drag out the "so..." people often say “所以呢。。。”

    于是:this word is a bit more complicated. It solidifies the relationship between the parts of a sentence, and is generally used in its sentence part, either before or after the subject. Its main function is to connect the two parts of the sentence like superglue. The things the sentence in which it appears shows are frequently brought on by the first part, as such, it's the result of the development of whatever happened in the first sentence. eg:
    走过一片农田,穿过一个小树林,于是静湖(Lake Jing)便(就)出现在眼前了。

    We can break down the types of results that 于是 goes along with into these:
    1. 于是 is a measure taken due to the circumstances of the first sentence.
    清早起床,看到外面阳光灿烂,于是便约了大卫去爬山。(In the early morning after getting up, on seeing how bright the sunshine was, I then arranged to go mountain-climbing with Dawei)
    2. 于是 is the development or reaction of the circumstances of the first part.
    回家后,李平(Li Ping)越想越气,于是大哭了一场。(After returning home, the more Liping thought about it the madder she got, so she had herself a big cry).
    3. 于是 is the result of a movement, basically getting to a new place.
    过了一座山,又过了一条河,于是我家就在眼前了。(Once you pass a mountain, then cross a river, and my house is right there)
    4. 于是 is often said as 于是乎, it carries a slight connotation of written Chinese.
    从同学们的反应中他知道自己说错了话,于是乎,低头不语。From his classmate's reaction, he realized he'd said something wrong, so he therefore lowered his head and went silent.

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