Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order IX – Part II

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

SP9 : Question – Content Questions

  • In Chinese, the words order in questions is identical to the order of phrases in statements.
  • In Chinese, the question words like What (什么), Who (谁), Where (哪里) and How / How about (怎样/怎么样)are ALWAYS at the end of the sentence.

    Example:

    1. What are you doing?
    zài zuò shén me ?
    ?
    Subject Verb Question Word
    you doing what
    2. Who is he?
    shì shuí ?
    ?
    Subject Verb Question
    Word
    he is who
    3. Where do you go?
    ?
    ?
    Subject Verb Question Word
    you doing what
    4. How did you spend your holiday?
    de jiǎ guò zěn yàng ?
    ?
    Subject Verb Question Word
    your holiday spend how
  • The question words like Why (为什么), When (什么时候)and Which one, or Which (哪一个)are ALWAYS placed at the beginning of the sentence or after the subject.

    Example:

    1. Why must he do it that way?
    wéi shén me yào yàng zuò
    ?
    Question Word Subject Verb
    why he want to like that do
    2. When is your holiday?
    men shén me shí hòu fàng jiǎ
    ?
    Subject Question Word Verb
    you when holiday
    3. Which one is cheaper?
    jiào pián
    便 ?
    Question Word Phrase
    which one more cheap
  • Exception: In some cases, the questions word can be placed at the beginning of the sentence, or at the end of the sentences.
  • Just remember, the words order in questions is always identical to the order of phrases in statements.

    Question with “How” which is placed at the beginning of the sentence :

    1. How can I figure out my taxes?
    zěn yàng cái néng suàn chū de shuì jīn
    ?
    Question Word Verb Object
    how can figure out my taxes

    Question with “How” which is placed at the end of the sentence :

    2. How about recently?
    zuì jìn zěn yàng
    ?
    Phrase Question Word
    recently how

    Question with “What” which is placed at the end of the sentence :

    1. What is that?
    shì shén me
    ?
    Phrase Question Word
    that is what

    Question with “What” which is placed in the mid of the sentence :

    2. What is your name?
    jiào shén me míng zi
    ?
    Subject Verb Question Word Noun
    you be called what name
  • Have a nice weekend.
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10 thoughts on “Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order IX – Part II”

    1. Hi Jason,
      I have just upgraded my WordPress to the latest version and I have changed the comment spam plugin. So it may takes a while for your comment to get published.

  1. I am at the moment trying to understand alot about the chinese grammar, some things I am finding easier than others but I have also been told not to focus so much on the grammar and just listen to what chinese speakers are saying and copy. While I guess this has merit what happens If i want to form my own sentences, constructions? So yeah still not sure if my approach is okay…

    Anyway I have two questions if someone doesn’t mind helping me out please 🙂

    a. 如果现在你有时间, 我请你来和我吃晚饭在北京饭店

    is this sentence correct? I have put 在北京饭店 at the end of the sentence, I know I could’ve put it before 我请你 or 我在北京饭店请你 (after the subject) but I just wanted to try at the end of this part of the sentence and see if it was correct.

    b. a. 以前他去中国,他的汉语说得不太好
    b. 以前他去中国, 他说汉语太不好

    Are both these correct? if they are what is the difference between the first and second is there any in the way they are spoken? is the meaning different?

    Thank you
    Jason

    1. Hi Jason,
      Chinese grammar is very different compared to English. I agree that you don’t focus too much on the grammar.

      In Chinese, function words 虚词 are frequently used to construct a sentence. They are very different from English, and there is no special rules for those words in a sentence construction.

      http://www.learnchineseeveryday.com/2010/10/16/type-of-chinese-words-ii-function-words-虚词/

      For your questions:
      1. 如果现在你有时间, 我请你来和我吃晚饭在北京饭店.
      The sentence structure is not really correct.

      如果现在你有时间, 我请你来北京饭店和我一起吃晚饭.

      2.
      a. 他的汉语说得不太好。
      correct.
      b. 他说汉语太不好。
      I think this sentence doesn’t mean anything… 🙂

      1. 谢谢你

        with 1., maybe i am just confusing things too much, I still dont understand the structure you used there, but can I just say.

        如果现在你有时间, 我在北京饭店请你吃晚饭。

        I have put the adverb of place after the subject, this is what I normally do when I make 中文 sentences. I guess i got confused when i read in your article you can structure it as Subject + verb + adverb of place? Also i took out 和我 and 一起。 are they necessary? haha I hope my above sentence is right O_O

        As for 2b. Meant to write
        他说汉语不太好。
        still dont know if that is correct though.

        谢谢 :)

        1. Hi Jason,
          It is alright for your sentence:
          如果现在你有时间, 我在北京饭店请你吃晚饭。
          Yes. You can take out 和我一起, which means “with me together”. But it is not wrong to have them.

          For 2b.
          不太好 means “not too good”.
          Your sentence “他说汉语不太好。” is still not correct.
          You have to add “说得”, and it should be
          他说汉语说得不太好。

  2. Yay, comment finally posted!, yeah just wanted to ask those 2 questions if someone could please help that would be great.

    P.S your article was great and helped me heaps, thank you!

  3. Dear Min Min,
    You have been a great help for me to learn Chinese sentence sentence and word pattern. I studied your “Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order” lessons I through IX and noticed that “SP 10, Particle” is not included.
    Did I miss it? Please direct me as to where I can find it so I can continue.
    Much appreciation!
    Jane

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