Society & Culture & Entertainment Education

Mandarin Chinese - Basic Grammar

Sentence structure in Chinese Mandarin is slightly different from ours in English.
If you use our grammar to speak Chinese I am sure you will be understood, but why sound strange when you don't have to? Essentially the Chinese tend to put the "time" factor at the beginning of the sentence.
They also like to put the people at the beginning.
The easiest way to explain this is through example.
I am going to school tomorrow with my dad.
Or we might also say I am going to school with my dad tomorrow The sentence above has a time element "tomorrow" and two people "I" and "my dad".
See below how a Chinese person would say the above sentence: Tomorrow I with my dad am going to school.
So you can see above the first word is "tomorrow".
This is very common in Chinese.
Before speaking, think about what you are going to say and if what you want to say includes a time element like "tomorrow" "yesterday" "next year" or even "at 12 o'clock" make sure you say that first.
Then think about the people "I" "you" "he" "she" etc and make sure those are towards the beginning of the sentence.
Everything else can fall into place after that.
If you follow those 2 basic rules you've done most of the work in saying something grammatically correct in Chinese.
Now if you want to ask questions in Chinese it could be easier.
Using English again as an example: She is beautiful Is She beautiful? Notice in English we just reverse the order of the pronoun and the verb.
Not too difficult really, but Chinese is even easier.
They just make a statement and say "ma" at the end.
Kind of like a verbalised question mark, or at least that's how I like to think of it.
So this Chinese would be: She is beautiful "ma"? Or another alternative way to ask the same question in Chinese would be: She is beautiful not beautiful? This is also a common way to ask questions in Chinese.
However when using actual questions words like who, what, where, when, why or how we don't need to use "ma" because the use of a question word makes it obvious that we are asking a question.

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