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The Basic Sentence Structure in Chinese

 

The main characteristic of Chinese sentence is that it lacks of morphological changes in person, tense, gender, number, and case in the strict sense. The sentence order is very important to convey different grammatical meanings. Here is a basic Chinese sentence structures list:

1. The sentences with an adjective predicate

Adjectives in Chinese can function as complete predicates. These kinds of sentences can be modified by adverbs such as “很”, “也”, and “都”. The negative form is made by putting “不” before the adjective that functions as the predicate.

Subject + Adjective Predicate

e.g.

我忙。(Wǒ máng.)I`m busy.

我很忙。(Wǒ hěn máng.)I`m very busy.

我不忙。(Wǒ bù máng.)I`m not busy.

我们都很忙。(Wǒmen dōu hěn máng.)We are all very busy.

 

Subject Predicate
Adverb Adjective
我们 都很

2. Sentences with a verbal predicate

The main part of a verbal predicate is a verb. The object usually follows the verb. The negative form is made by putting “不” or “没” before the verb. However, “不” and “没” cannot be used interchangeably. Certain verbs use “不,” and other verbs use “没.”

Subject + (Adverb) + Verb + (Object)

(S-V-O)

e.g.

我爱你。(Wǒ ài nǐ.)I love you.

我们都喜欢汉语。(Wǒmen dōu xǐhuān hànyǔ.)We all like Chinese language.

你在哪儿?(Nǐ zài nǎr?)Where are you?

我不知道。(Wǒ bù zhīdào.)I don`t know.

 

Subject

Verbal Predicate

Object

Adverb Verb  
我们 喜欢 汉语
哪儿
知道

3. General Questions 吗(ma) and 呢(ne)

“吗” can be added to the end of a declarative sentence to make a yes-no question, while 呢 can be used at the end of certain interrogative sentences to indicate a question.

Sentence +

Interrogative Sentence +

e.g.

你是英国人吗?(Nǐ shì Yīnɡɡuó rén mɑ?) Are you British?

你有笔吗?(Nǐ yǒu bǐ mɑ?) Do you have a pen?

我叫小明,你呢?(Wǒ jiào Xiǎomínɡ, nǐ ne?) I’m Xiaoming, and you?

小明不是老师,小华呢?(Xiǎomínɡ bú shì lǎoshī, Xiǎohuá ne?) Xiaoming isn’t a teacher, how about Xiaohua?

 

Sentence Elliptical Interrogative Sentence
你是英国人 我叫小明,你
你有笔 小明不是老师,小华

4. A Summary of Wh-Questions in Chinese

The particular interrogative sentences in Chinese calls for “谁” “什么时候”(“几点”) “哪” “什么” “为什么” to express questions with “who” “when” “where” “what” and “why” in English. These questions have the same word order as declarative sentences.

Who→谁

When→什么时候/几点

Where→哪

What→什么

Why→为什么

e.g.

你是谁?(Nǐ shì shuí?) Who are you?

你什么时候回家?(Nǐ shénme shíhou huíjiā?) When will you back home?

现在几点?(Xiànzài jǐ diǎn?) What time is it?

你是哪国人?(Nǐ shì nǎ ɡuó rén?) Where are you from?

你在哪里?(Nǐ zài nǎlǐ?) Where are you?

这是什么?(Zhè shì shénme?) What’s this?

为什么不上课?(Wèi shénme bú shànɡ kè?) Why don’t take classes?

Who 你是?
When 什么时候回家?

 

现在几点?

 

Where 你是国人?

 

你在哪里?

 

What 这是什么?
Why 为什么不上课?

5. Comparative Sentences with “比”

“比” is used in sentences to compare degrees or states between two objects. The negative form uses “没有” without changing the basic meaning expressed by the speaker.

A + 比 + B + Adjective/Verbal Phrase

→ B + 没有 + A + Adjective/Verbal Phrase

e.g.

他比我高。(Tā bǐ wǒ ɡāo.) He is taller than me.

我没有他高。(Wǒ méi yǒu tā ɡāo.) I’m shorter than him.

我比他跑得快。(Wǒ bǐ tā pǎo de kuài.) I run faster than him.

他没有我跑得快。(Tā méi yǒu wǒ pǎo de kuài.) He run slower than me.

A B Adjective/Verbal Phrase
跑得快
B 没有 A Adjective/Verbal Phrase
没有
没有 跑得快

6. Yes-No Questions and Affirmative-Negative Questions in Chinese

Yes-No Questions

The main characteristic of Yes-No Questions is that you can answer with “Yes” or “No. These kinds of questions are formed by using inflection when saying a declarative sentence, adding “吗” at the end of a declarative sentence, or adding “好吗” or “对吗”. at the end of the sentence.

Sentence ? (with inflection)

Sentence + 吗?

Sentence, 好吗?/对吗?

e.g.

你是学生?(Nǐ shì xuéshenɡ?) You are a student?

这是你的杯子吗?(Zhè shì nǐ de bēizi mɑ?) Is this your cup?

我们一起去超市,好吗?(Wǒmen yìqǐ qù chāoshì, hǎo mɑ?) Let’s go to the supermarket together, is that ok?

这是你的本子,对吗?(Zhè shì nǐ de běnzi, duì mɑ?) This is your notebook, right?

Sentence
你是学生
Sentence 吗 ?
这是你的杯子 吗 ?
Sentence 好吗/对吗 ?
我们一起去超市 好吗 ?
这是你的本子 对吗 ?

Affirmative-Negative Questions

Affirmative-Negative Questions are composed of the affirmative and the negative forms of the predicate, and the responder can choose between them. In this kind of sentence, “呢” can be put after the sentence while “吗” can’t.

Subject + Predicate + (Object) + (呢)

(Affirmative Form + Negative Form)

e.g.

你是不是学生?(Nǐ shì bu shì xuéshenɡ?) Are you a student or not?

他会不会游泳呢?(Tā huì bu huì yóuyǒnɡ ne?) Does he can swim or not?

你听没听见呢?(Nǐ tīnɡ méi tīnɡ jiàn ne?) Do you hear or not?

你们有没有尺子?(Nǐmen yǒu méi yǒu chǐzi?) Do you have ruler or not?

Subject Predicate Object
Affirmative Form Negative Form
不是 学生
不会 游泳
没听见
你们 没有 尺子

7. Sentences with a nominal predicate

Nominal words or phrases can directly function as predicates in Chinese. Still, their usage is limited to time, age, date, weather, nationality, price, etc. The negative form is made by putting “不是” before the nominal word or phrase.

Subject +Nominal Predicate

e.g.

今天三月五号。(Jīntiān sān yǜe wǔ hào.) Today is 5th March.

我八岁。(Wǒ bā sùi.) I’m eight years old.

今天晴天。(Jīntiān qíngtiān.) It’s sunny today.

他中国人。(Tā Zhōngguó rén.) He is a Chinese.

昨天不是星期五。(Zuótiān bú shì xīngqī wǔ.) Yesterday wasn’t Friday.

Subject Negation Form Nominal Predicate
今天   三月五号
八岁
今天 晴天
中国人
昨天 不是 星期五

8. Sentences with a subject-predicate predicate

The predicate in this kind of sentence is a subject-predicate structure. Sentences like this have two subjects, which are related.

Subject + Subject-Predicate Predicate

e.g.

他一句话也不说。(Tā yí jù huà yě bù shuō.) He doesn’t say one word.

这棵树叶子很多。(Zhè kē shù yèzi hěn duō.) There are many leaves on the tree.

他汉语很好。(Tā hànyǚ hěn hǎo.) He speaks Chinese very well.

Subject Subject-Predicate Predicate
Subject Predicate
一句话 也不说
这棵树 叶子 很多
汉语 很好

9. Sentences with double objects

There are two objects in this kind of sentence. The negative form is made by putting “不” or “没” before the verb. Only certain verbs can be used such as “给”, “问”, “告诉”.

Subject + Verb + Object1 + Object2

e.g.

妈妈给我一块钱。(Māmɑ ɡěi wǒ yí kuài qián.) Mama gives me one yuan.

他问我一个问题。(Tā wèn wǒ yí ɡè wèntí.) He asks me a question.

他告诉我一件事。(Tā ɡàosu wǒ yí jiàn shì.) He tells me one thing.

Subject Verb Object1 Object2
妈妈 一块钱
一个问题
告诉 一件事

10. Sentences with serial verbs

Among these sentences, there are usually two or more verbs to indicate the sequence of actions, purposes, methods and more. The negative form is usually made by putting “不” or “没” before the first verb.

Subject + Verb1 + (Object1) + Verb2 + (Object2)

e.g.

他打开门走进教室。(Tā dǎkāi mén zǒujìn jiàoshì.) He opens the door and enters the classroom.

他去图书馆看书。(Tā qù túshū ɡuǎn kàn shū.) He goes to the library for reading.

我用筷子吃饭。(Wǒ yònɡ kuàizi chī fàn.) I eat with chopsticks.

他不去上海玩。(Tā bú qù Shànɡhǎi wán.) He won’t go to Shanghai to have a good time.

我们没有时间休息。(Wǒmen méi yǒu shíjiān xiūxi.) We don’t have time to rest.

Subject Negation Verb1 (Object1) Verb2 (Object2)
打开 走进 教室
图书馆
筷子
上海
我们 时间 休息

11. Sentences with “是”

In this sentence structure, the key part of the predicate is the verb “是”, which is similar to “be” in English. The negative form of this kind of sentence is made by placing “不” before “是”.

Subject + 是 + Other Elements

e.g.

他是老师。(Tā shì lǎoshī.) He is teacher.

这是我的书。(Zhè shì wǒ de shū.) This is my book.

他们不是中国人。(Tāmen bú shì Zhōnɡɡuó rén.) They are not Chinese.

Subject Negation Other Elements
老师
我的书
他们 中国人

12. Sentences with “有”

In this sentence structure, the key part of the predicate is the verb “有”, which is similar to “have” in English. The negative form of this kind of sentence is made by placing “没” before “有”.

Subject + 有 + Other Elements

e.g.

他有书。(Tā yǒu shū.) He has books.

我们有中文课。(Wǒmen yǒu Zhōnɡwén kè.) We have Chinese class.

爸爸没有苹果。(Bàbɑ méi yǒu pínɡɡuǒ.) Dady doesn’t have apple.

Subject Negation Other Elements
我们 中文课
爸爸 苹果

 

This Post Has One Comment
  1. whenever i put in an individual word on google translate it is XYZ but then when i put that same word in a sentence it changes, why is this?
    if it is possible could you make a video on this

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