Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order VIII

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

SP8 : Noun

  • A noun phrase consists of a main noun, and any words or phrases that describe or modify the main noun.
  • In Chinese, all noun modifiers occur before the main noun.

    Modifier + Noun


    liǎng zhī bái de xiǎo gǒu
    Modifier Main Noun
    two measure word white small Dog
  • Nouns can be modified by :- Specifiers / Number + Measure Word
    – Nouns
    – Pronouns
    – Adjective Phrases
    – Verb Phrases (verb + object)
    – Verb Phrases (subject + object)
    – Preposition Phrases
  • Modifier = Specifiers / Number + Measure Word

    1. Those three books
    sān běn shū
    Modifier Noun
    those 3 measure word book
  • Modifier = Nouns

    1. Teacher’s book
    lǎo shī de shū
    Modifier Noun
    teacher particle book
  • Modifier = Pronouns

    1. Our book
    men de shū
    Modifier Noun
    our particle book
  • Modifier = Adjective Phrases

    1. A very thick book
    hěn hòu de shū
    Modifier Noun
    very thick particle book
  • Modifier = Verb Phrases (verb + object)

    1. The girl who sells books
    mài shū de
    (Verb Object)
    sell books particle girl
  • Modifier = Verb Phrases (subject + verb)

    1. The book that we bought
    men mǎi de shū
    (Object Verb)
    we buy particle books
  • Modifier = Preposition Phrases

    1. A friend who has come from UK
    cóng yīng guó lái de péng yǒu
    Modifier Noun
    from UK come particle friend
  • In English, for the Verb Phrases and Preposition Phrases examples above,  e.g.
    – the girl who sells books
    – the book that we bought
    – a friend who has come from UK

    the modifier occurs after the main noun as a relative clause introduced by a relative pronoun (‘who,’ ‘whom,’ ‘which’) or a complementizer (‘that’).

  • However, in Chinese, all phrases/ clauses that describe or modify the main noun should precede the main noun.
    There is no words that correspond to relative pronoun (‘who,’ ‘whom,’ ‘which’) or a complementizer (‘that’) in Chinese.
  • In some occasion, when the main noun is predictable from the context, it may be omitted. When the main noun is omitted, ‘的’ cannot be omitted. Example:
    1. That book is mine (That book is my book)
    běn shū shì de
    that measure
    book is mine
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8 thoughts on “Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order VIII”

  1. thank so much for creating this kind of the website it is very good for every one who want to study chines and want to know more about the culture of chines

  2. its really helpful !!! i’ve follow every sp you post here. looking forward to your sp 9 n 10 🙂 谢谢

    1. Hi Rain memory,
      I am just giving a brief and short lessons in Chinese Sentence Structure and Word Order. I hope it would be useful to all of you who are learning Chinese.

  3. Dear Min Min,
    Can you help me understand this sentence?他要表演变魔术。 Is there any change in meaning if I leave out 变?(他要表演魔术。). What is the function of 变 in the sentence? Thanks, Min Min. You are my respected teacher and you will always be my teacher.

    1. Hi larry,
      Let’s see these 3 sentences:
      Basically, for me, these 3 sentences has the same meaning: “He wants to perform magic.”

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