Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order IV

This grammar section is divided into a few sub-sections, and will be described through a few week activities:

SP1. Basic Pattern
SP2. Direct and Indirect Objects
SP3. Prepositional Phrases
SP4. Location and Time Phrases
SP5. Adverbs
SP6. Negation
SP7. Duration
SP8. Noun
SP9. Question
SP10. Particle

SP4 : Location and Time Phrases

  • The location phrase is a type of preposition phrase. It always occurs before the verb phrase (as in preposition phrase).

    Subject + Location Phrase + Verb Phrase

    Example:

    1. I am reading at the library.
    zài shū guǎn kàn shū
    Subject Location Phrase Verb Phrase
    I at the library reading
    2. I have my breakfast in the cafeteria at school.
    zài xué xiào shí táng chī zǎo cān
    Subject Location Phrase Verb Phrase
    I in the cafeteria at school have breakfast
  • The time phrase (that indicates the ‘time when’ a situation takes place) always occurs before the verb phrase (as in preposition phrase).

    Subject + Time Phrase + Verb Phrase


    Example:

    1. I run to school every day.
    měi tiān pǎo xué xiào
    Subject Time Phrase Verb Phrase
    I every day run to school
    2. I bought several books yesterday.
    zuó tiān mǎi le běn shū
    Subject Time Phrase Verb Phrase
    I yesterday bought several books
  • However, the time phrase may also occur before the subject.

    Time Phrase + Subject + Verb Phrase

    Example:

    1. I run to school every day.
    měi tiān dōu pǎo xué xiào
    Time Phrase Subject Verb Phrase
    every day I run to school
    2. I bought several books yesterday.
    zuó tiān mǎi le běn shū
    Time Phrase Subject Verb Phrase
    yesterday I bought several books
  • Within the time phrase, the order of constituents is from the largest block of time to the smallest block of time.

    Example:

    1. November 14, 2009.
    èr líng líng jiǔ nián shí yuè shí hào
    2. 8 o’clock last night.
    zuó tiān wǎn shàng diǎn zhōng
  • When a sentence includes both a time phrase and a location phrase, time phrase generally occurs before location phrase.

    Subject + Time Phrase + Location Phrase + Verb Phrase

    Example:

    1. I am reading at the library.
    měi tiān zài shū guǎn kàn shū
    Subject Time Phrase Location Phrase Verb Phrase
    I every day at the library reading
    2. I have my breakfast in the cafeteria at school.
    měi tiān zài xué xiào shí táng chī zǎo cān
    Subject Time Phrase Location Phrase Verb Phrase
    I every day in the cafeteria at school have breakfast
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24 thoughts on “Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order IV”

    1. Hi Joshua,
      谢谢。你的中文很好。
      I am glad to hear that you are enjoying my blog and learning Chinese.
      Thanks.

  1. Hello dear Min Min! I just wanted to thank you for the great and qualitative work you’ve done =)! This is really well done, and really nice to learn with =)! By the way, I wanted to know if the four tones are so important to pronounce! ‘Caus that’s the point that discourage me a little to learn chinese actually (even though it’s the only one, I think). ‘Caus in Korean and Japanese, they have no tones, and so they understand easily each other with the context, so that’s why I was really wondering whether it was the same thing in chinese or not! Thank you very much for your answer =)! Keep it up! (very) Friendly =) Koara ~ ~ (and oh, thanks a lot for having send me the link of your site on my livemocha page =). I also add your site on mine =). See ya! ) (I’d also like to apologize for my imperfect english just in case ;)! I’m a french native speaker.)

  2. Hello Min Min =)! Ok, thanks for your answer! I asked that, ‘caus I heard sometimes that when you speak fast, the tones disappear, so it meant that the people automatically understand each other with the context, therefore when those tones disappear, but they were maybe wrong to think that.. Friendly Koara ~ ~

  3. Hi Min Min,
    Great job and congratulation for sharing your knowledge freely. Your chinese lessons are far the best I ever learnt.

  4. Easy explanation! 谢谢!
    Btw, i’m half chinese, and my mom who is chinese born woman living in denmark also thinks that this was so easy to understand, keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Jonathan,
      Thanks for visiting my website. You can learn Chinese from your mom too. Try to speak to her in Chinese and I believe this can greatly improve you Chinese. 🙂

  5. Thank you for your effort in making Chinese easy and enjoyable. I always had a problem with grammar. I now understand better the structure of a Chinese sentence. 谢谢你。

    1. Hi jakeez,
      Yes. Some of the adverb of place are : 这里 (zhè lǐ ), 到处 (dào chù).
      Some of the adverb of time are : 今晚 (jīn wǎn), 最近 (zuì jìn)

  6. That’s great! It is an easy way to learn how to order the sentences correctly in the exam! I am a beginner by the way! Wo ai hanyu shuo!

  7. How to say, I yesterday, from the market, for my friend, bought a bag.
    This sentence would include time, location and prepositional phrase. So what should be the order then? Where should ‘for my friend’ come?

    1. Hi saloni,
      The sentence structure for your sentence should be:

      ( 昨天 ) ( 在市场 ) ( 我为朋友 ) ( 买了一个书包 )。

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