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All about Location Words

In English and many other languages, people will discuss about locations using prepositions. In Chinese language, 方位词 (fāng wèi cí or nouns of locality) are used for this purpose. Here is a list of the most common words to describe location.

上 (shàng) – up

下 (xià)– down

里 (lǐ) – inside

外 (wài) – outside

旁 (páng) – near

左 (zuǒ) – left

右 (yóu) – right


location in Chinese

If you have read my previous post about Chinese numbers and the names of months, you already know how the multiplicative principle works in Chinese word building process. For words of locations, it works the same way. Just put面 (miàn) – surface or 边 (biān) – side after the character itself. Here is a list of how it would be used in Chinese:


上面 / 上边 (shàng miàn / shàng biān) – top, above

下面 / 下边 (xià miàn / xià biān) – below, under

里面 / 里边 (lǐ miàn / lǐ biān) – inside

外面 / 外边 (wài miàn/ wàibiān) – outside

旁边 (páng biān) – nearby

左边 (zuǒ biān) – on the left

右边 (yòu biān) – on the right

The demonstrative pronouns may be combined with边 (biān) as well:

这边 (zhè biān) – here (literally means “this side”)

那边 (nà biān) – there (literally means “that side”)

Once again, after learning only twelve Chinese characters you actually know very many useful Chinese words and phrases! We only have one more word to your vocabulary:

无边 (wú biān) – endless, boundless

wu in Chinese


无 (wú) is used for negating some Chinese words and may be translated into English with either suffix – less or a prefix (non-, un-, etc.). By the way, don’t mix it with the 五(wǔ) character (remember, we learnt about it last week?)

We can see how Chinese is simpler than you think. After only learning 12 Chinese words, you can say and understand how to describe where you are. So continue to make it simple and make learning Chinese fun! See you next time!

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Oksana Ermolaeva

Oxana Ermolaeva is a freelance writer, editor and translator from Russia. She loves studying new languages and cultures. Her special interest is Chinese language.

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