Chinese Sentence Structure
Basic Chinese Sentence Structure
The “most” basic Chinese sentence structure is similar to the structure in English.
Basic Chinese sentence structure: Subject (S) + Verb (V) + Object (O).
Example: He plays ball.
He, 他 tā (This is the subject.)
Play, 打 dǎ, 玩 wán (This is the verb.)
Ball, 球 qiú (This is the object.)
The word “play” in Chinese can be translated to 打 dǎ or 玩 wán. When speaking “playing ball,” we use “打 dǎ,” which literally means “to hit.”
So the correct order will be,
他 (S) + 打 (V) + 球(O)。 Tā dǎ qiú.
But when adding time, location and time duration, where would they go?
“Time” in Chinese sentence structure
- Let’s add “time when”:
Subject + Time when + Verb + Object
Time when + Subject + Verb + Object
He plays ball at 4 this afternoon.
4 o’clock this afternoon is the “time.” It can be placed either right before or right after the subject.
In Chinese, the “time when” is from big to small. E.g., in Chinese, we say today PM 7 o’clock instead of 7 PM today.
To apply the sentence structure Subject + Time when + Verb + Object,
the order will be,
He + today afternoon 4 o’clock + plays + ball.
他 今天 下午 四点 打 球。
Tā jīntiān xiàwǔ sì diǎn dǎ qiú.
“Time when” is referring to a specific point in time. Note the difference between “time when” and “time duration.”
Place “time when” either right before or right after the subject.
“Location” in Chinese sentence structure
If you also like to add “location,” you should place it after the subject and time. The structure will look like this,
Subject + Time when + Location + Verb + Object
If the location contains a smaller area in a location, same idea as time, bigger location first and then smaller.
For instants, the playground in the park.
A park is a bigger place than a playground. So the order in Chinese will be “In the park, the playground.”
He plays ball at the gym in the school at 4 this afternoon.
The correct order in Chinese will be,
He + today afternoon 4 o’clock + in the school at the gym + play + ball.
他 今天下午四点 在学校 运动场 打 球。
Tā jīntiān xiàwǔ sì diǎn zài xuéxiào yùndòngchǎng dǎ qiú.
“Time Duration” in Chinese sentence structure
When you would like to express an action has been continued for a period of time, you need time duration in the sentence. The structure will look like this,
Subject + Time when + Location + Verb + Object + Verb + Time duration
We place the time duration at the end of the sentence.
He played ball for three hours at the gym in the school this afternoon.
So the correct order in Chinese will be,
He + today afternoon + in the school at the gym + played + ball + for three hours
他 今天下午 在学校运动场 *打球打了 三个小时。
Tā jīntiān xiàwǔ zài xuéxiào yùndòngchǎng dǎqiú dǎle sān gè xiǎoshí.
*In Chinese, the verb usually repeats before the time duration.
We also include two practice questions at the end of the infographic below. The answers are upsidedown.
Chinese Sentence Structure Simplified Chinese Version Infographic
Chinese Sentence Structure Video
Video Credit: Carol from Growmommy.com
Chinese Sentence Sturcture Traditional Chinese Version
⃞ I can understand the basic Chinese sentence structure and put the parts in the correct order.
⃞ I can recognize when people use “time when”, “location” and/or “time duration” in a Chinese conversation.
⃞ I can place “time when” correctly within a sentence.
⃞ I can place “location” correctly within a sentence.
⃞ I can place “time duration” correctly within a sentence.
⃞ I can correctly place all three of them (time when, location and time duration) within a sentence.