Grammar 8

Learn Chinese : grammar 8

The classifiers and

In the previous lesson, we saw the classifiers.

Here are two new ones:

běn which we saw in the word "Japan" 日本 in the meaning of "root, origin", is also used as a classifier for books
两本书 two books
这三本中文书不是我的。 These three books in Chinese are not mine.

is more precisely the classifier for bound book. This makes it possible to distinguish between the word "newspaper" (which consists of folded sheets of paper) and "magazine" (which consists of bound sheets of paper). For these two words, we use the same character in Chinese bào (which is not to be learned in HSK level 1 ). To distinguish "newspaper" from "magazine", we will use the classifier for "magazine" and a classifier for flat objects for "newspaper". You do not have to remember all this for now, but this little explanation illustrates the use of classifiers.

bēi is the classifier for glasses and cups:
一杯茶 a cup of tea.

It is important to distinguish: 一杯茶 yì bēi chá a cup of tea (we talk about tea in the cup)
一个茶杯 yí gè chábēi a tea cup (we talk about the object).

Finally, a very useful classifier: xiē plural classifier:
这些衣服不是你的。 These clothes are not yours.

To translate "a few, some", we can say 一些 yì xiē :
我有一些中国茶杯。 I have Chinese tea cups.

Note that 一些 yì xiē is used for rather small things (such as cups, books, ants, etc.) and to designate things in general. But 一些 yì xiē work must not be used for bigger things (such as tables, cars) or definite things. For example, it can be used to say "there are elephants in the zoo" (this is quite general) but not to say that "she has dogs and cats" (because they are her own pets, she knows them well).

The location words

The location words are words that express a position in relation to a place:
shàng : on, over
xià : under
后面 hòumian : behind
前面 qiánmian : in front of
: in, inside

Behind the characters , , we can add mian without changing their meaning in any way.

The location words are located behind the place:
桌子上 on the table
椅子下 under the chair
学校里 in school
医院前面 in front of the hospital
我家后面 behind my home

In a sentence the verb zài "to be at, to be located in" must be placed in front of the group "place + location word":
书在桌子上。 The book(s) is/are on the table.
狗在椅子下。 The dog is under the chair.
你的女儿在学校里。 Your daughter is in the school.
我家不在医院后面。 My house is not behind the hospital.

The structure to remember is thus:

在 + place + location word

Last modified: Monday, 20 May 2019, 10:47 AM