Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order V

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

SP5 : Adverbs

  • Adverbs in Chinese typically occur at the beginning of the predicate (before an adjective, a verb phrase or a prepositional phrase).

    Subject + Adverbs + Predicate (Adjective / Verb / Prepositional Phrase)

    Example:

    1. He only knows (recognizes) five characters.
    cái rèn shí
    Subject Adverbs Predicate
    He only knows five characters
    2. They can all speak Japanese.
    men dōu huì shuō
    Subject Adverbs Predicate
    They all can speak Japanese
  • Adverbs are used to show logical functions, degree, extent, negation, time, probability, etc.
  • Logical Functions

    Some of the adverbs: 也, 都, 还, 只, 就, 才, 又, 再, 更, 在

    Example:

    1. I only have one dollar.
    zhī yǒu kuài qián
    Subject Adverbs Predicate
    I only have one dollar
    2. He neither smokes nor drinks.
    chōu yān jiǔ
    Subject Predicate Adverbs Predicate
    He not smoking also not drinking wine
  • Intensifier (Degree)

    Some of the adverbs: 很, 太, 夠, 非常

    Example:

    1. I’m extremely grateful to you.
    fēi cháng gǎn xiè nín
    Subject Adverbs Predicate
    I extremely grateful to you
    2. I’m very glad to meet you.
    jiàn dào hěn gāo xìng
    Adverbs Adjective
    meeting you very happy / glad
  • Extent

    Extent is represented by all and only.

    Some of the adverbs: 只有 (而已), 统统

    Example:

    1. She only has one brother.
    zhī yǒu ge
    Subject Adverbs Predicate
    She only have one brother
  • Affirmative and Negative

    Negation is represented by not and no, while positive is represented by two adverbs surely and sure. Most adverbs must precede negation, but some adverbs may occur before or after negation.

    Some of the adverbs: 不, 肯定, 一定

    Example:

    1. I am definitely going.
    dìng
    Subject Adverbs Predicate
    I definitely go
  • Time

    Adverbs usually occur after the ‘time when’ phrase.

    Subject + Time Phrase + Adverbs + Predicate

    Some of the adverbs: 了, 已经, 经常, 将要, 最后, 当初

    Example:

    1. I’ve had enough.
    jīng chī bǎo le
    Subject Adverbs Predicate
    I already full (eat one’s fill)
    2. This kind of problem frequently crops up
    zhè lèi wèn jīng cháng shēng
    Subject Adverbs Predicate
    This kind of problem always happen
    3. This batch of goods was sent out yesterday.
    zhè huò zuó tiān jīng chū le
    Subject Time Phrase Adverbs Predicate
    This kind of problem yesterday already sent out
  • Certainty or Possibility

    Adverbs of tone expressing an air of estimation (like 大概) can come before the subject (when emphasizing the subject), and can also come after the subject (when emphasizing the predicate).

    Some of the adverbs: 可能, 大概, 或许, 几乎, 差一点

    Example:

    1. She might be able to come.
    huò néng lái
    Subject Adverbs Predicate
    She maybe can come
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12 thoughts on “Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order V”

  1. 他 才 认 识 五 个 字
    把 ‘才’ 用 ‘只’ 可以吗? which is more common?
    他 只 认 识 五 个 字

    1. Hi bubun,
      Yes. Both ‘才’ and ‘只’ have the same meaning.
      他才认识五个字 。
      他只认识五个字 。
      Both are correct.

  2. this was very helpful,
    but is there anyway i could quickly find the link to the characters you give, so i can hear the pronounciation, how many strokes,etc ???

    1. Hi Maurice,
      Do you mean 2 or more adverbs in a sentence?
      e.g.:
      她 或许 已经 出去了。
      (maybe + already)
      Just like English, they have the same order.

  3. what do you mean by 只有 (而已)?? what is 而已? Does it hold the same meaning as 只有? And if yes, then can the two be replaced and can this also be used in the same manner as other adverbs?

    1. Hi saloni,
      只有 means “only have”.
      而已 means “that’s all; nothing more”

      The sentence normally have this structure:
      只有 ( numeral ) ( measure word ) ( noun ) 而已。

      e.g.
      她只有一个哥哥而已。

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