Learning Mandarin: Sentence Word Order – Part 1 – Subject-Verb-Object

Word order

Many people think learning Chinese is difficult. They're probably right. Many parts of Chinese, though, are quite straightforward for English speakers. Tense is simpler (and I'll write about it again soon), and sentence structure isn't too bad. Let me tell you about some core differences though.

Subject-Verb-Object

This one's the easiest. It's the same as in English. I can say:

我喜欢咖啡。(Wǒ xǐhuān kāfēi.)

It's just: I like coffee. (Wǒ) is "I".喜欢 (xǐhuān) is "like".咖啡 (kāfēi) is a loan word for "Coffee".

Similarly:

我去医院。(Wǒ qù yīyuàn.)

is "I go to hospital".

Or even:

我爱你。(Wǒ ài nǐ.)

for "I love you".

Adjectives

Note that this structure doesn't apply to how we use adjectives.

In English, we might say:

"She is clever".

In Chinese, we don't use the same structure for that.

While you could write:

她是聪明的。(Tā shì cōngmíng de.)

which is literally "she is smart", it's far more common to say:

她很聪明。(Tā hěn cōngmíng.)

which is literally "she very smart". Note the lack of a verb in that sentence. If you spend much time talking to Chinese people who are learning English, you'll recognize that that's a common sentence order that they often get incorrect.

Next time, I'll add some info about where concepts of "where, when, and how" go into these sentences.

Learning Mandarin

I'll write more soon on the best methods for learning Mandarin. If you want to get a taste for it in the meantime though, my current favorite site is iTalki, and my favorite teacher by far is Amy He. If you decide to try it, click here and it's cheaper for both you and me.

 

 

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