Chinese Calligraphy



Lesson 7

Words that function as verbs and prepositions

Some words in Chinese can either function as verbs or prepositions depending on the context they are used in. The following shows you the most common words of that type plus context examples.

在 (zài)

在 (zài) can be both used as verb and preposition. It has no exact equivalent in English. Depending on the situation, 在 (zài) can be translated as is "in, at, there..." or as the verb "to be". Note that 是 (shì) is no longer necessary when 在 (zài) is used.

Here are two examples where 在 (zài) is used as preposition.

在 (zài

In the following two examples 在 (zài) is used as a verb.

在 (zài

到 (dào)

到 (dào) used as preposition means "to" and 到 (dào) as a verb means "to arrive".

到 (dào)

到 (dào) has a number of meanings which we will come across in the course of this training.

給 (gěi)

給 (gěi) used as preposition means "to/for" and 給 (gěi) as a verb means "to give".

給 (gěi)

跟 (gēn)

跟 (gēn) used as preposition means "with" and 跟 (gēn) as a verb means "to follow".

跟 (gēn)

Prepositions

對 (duì)

The preposition 對 (duì) indicates a relation between persons or things where usually no movement is involved.

對 (duì)

進 (jìn)

The preposition 進 (jìn) indicates a movement into a location.

進 (jìn)

替 (tì)

The preposition 替 (tì) indicates that an action is performed for or on behalf of someone.

替 (tì)

Note that in the course of this grammar training we will encounter some more important prepositions.

The question words 誰 (shéi), 什麼 (shénme), 哪兒 (nǎr) and 哪 (nǎ)

In Lesson 3 we learned how to ask simple questions using the question particle 嗎 (ma). Sometimes it is necessary to use question words like who, where, what etc. to formulate a question. These question words also exist in Chinese. If you use a question word, the question particle 嗎 (ma) at the end of the sentence is no longer necessary.

The question word 誰 (shéi)

The question word 誰 (shéi) can be translated into English as "who" or "whom" and is used to enquire about persons. The position of the question word 誰 (shéi) within the sentence depends on the type of question.

The following examples show you situations in which 誰 (shéi) comes at the beginning of the sentence. The word order is the same as in English.

誰 (shéi)

In the following examples the word order is not the same as in English. The question word 誰 (shéi) moves to the end of the sentence.

誰 (shéi)

The question word 什麼 (shénme)

The question word 什麼 (shénme) can be translated as "what" and is used to enquire about things but also about names or professions. The position of the question word 什麼 (shénme) within the sentence depends on the type of question. The following examples show you situations in which 什麼 (shénme) comes at the end of the sentence.

什麼 (shénme)

If you want to enquire about a particular object (e.g. car), then 什麼 (shénme) goes before the noun to be specified.

什麼 (shénme)

For short questions 什麼 (shénme) even moves to the beginning of the sentence.

什麼 (shénme)

The question word 哪兒 (nǎr)

The question word 哪兒 (nǎr) can also be pronounced 哪裡 (nǎlǐ). It can be translated as "where" and is used to enquire about a place. 哪兒 (nǎr) is often preceded by a preposition.

哪兒 (nǎr)

To inquire about a location you can also use 什麼地方 (shénme dìfang), meaning "what place", instead of 哪裡 (nǎlǐ).

什麼地方 (shénme dìfang)

The question word 哪 (nǎ)

The question word 哪 (nǎ) can also be pronounced 哪 (něi). It can be translated as "what" or "which".

哪 (nǎ)