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Mandarin Chinese Syntax
Home > Languages > Mandarin > Syntax

Chinese grammar is not difficult. The word are never modified. This means that there is no conjugation, no declination, no masculine or feminine, no singular nor plural forms. When you begin to learn, this a a big relief. This is the main reason why many people say that Chinese is much easier than it looks. More…

Everything is based on the word order, and it usually is the same as in English : Subject + Verb + Object. However, when you want to built more complex sentences, some difficulties will arrive. The more complex the sentence, the more distant from English the strucutre will be. But there is nothing in it that is unmanagable.

One of the exciting aspect of Chinese is that you do not have strict word categories, such as verb, noun, preposition,… as in Western languages. For instance, the word gei can have the function of a verb, meaning to give but also of a preposition meaning for. The word to say to arrive will be the same as the preposition from, and to be can also mean at. An adjective can become a verb, thus big can also mean is big and by adding an adverb to grow up. In some Chinese sentences, it becomes difficult for a Western mind to determine where is the main verb. But you don't care, as you can instinctively understand.

Another aspect funny aspect of Chinese are the adverbs. You have in Chinese in dozen of words (de, le,…) which cannot be directly translated. You can put them at the end of a sentence or after a word or an adjective and it modifies its meaning. The adverbs will enable you to say that something happened in the past, or that still has effect, or that the sentence is a question or a supposition or that you have a doubt about one aspect of it…

Making a systematic grammar of Chinese is probably very complex but with intuition and practice, you can easily master a lot of it.

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