Sentence Structure

I am (doing)...

我在听。(wo3 zai4 ting1)  I am listening.

我在玩。(wo3 zai4 wan2)  I am playing.

我在走。(wo3 zai4 zou3)  I am walking.

我在看。(wo3 zai4 kan4)  I am looking/watching

你   很   adj。    You are very (trait/characteristic of the person).

你(ní) 很(hěn) 高(gāo)。  You are very tall.

你(nǐ) 很(hén) 好(hǎo)。  You are very nice.

你(nǐ) 很(hén) 美(měi)。  You are very beautiful.

你(ní) 很(hěn) 帅(shuài)。  You are very handsome.

**Literal meanings:

很(hěn):(adv.) very; often used in Chinese to omit “be” (am/are/is).

好(hǎo):(adj.) good, right, or nice

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng)   + noun。   She is a (the career of the person).

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng) 学(xué) 生(shēng)。   She is a student.

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng)  老(lǎo) 师(shī)。   She is a teacher.

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng) 医(yī) 生(shēng)。   She is a doctor.

她(tā) 是(shì) 一(yì) 名(míng) 律(lǜ) 师(shī)。   She is a lawyer.

**Literal meanings:

是(shì) :be (am/is/are)

名(míng): a classifier that is used to assist the noun; For example, a “bottle” of water, a “class” of students, “bottle” and “class” are considered as classifiers in Chinese.  Although in English there aren’t too many of these noun classifiers, in Chinese every category of nouns comes with a specific classifier.  In this case, 名(míng) is the proper classier for a person’s job.

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) + noun。   He has two (something).

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 手(shǒu) 机(jī)。   He has two cellphones.

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 杯(bēi) 子(zǐ)。   He has two mugs/cups.  

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 背(bēi) 包(bāo)。   He has two backpacks.

他(tā) 有(yǒu) 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 女(nǚ) 儿(ér)。   He has two daughters.  

**Literal meanings:

两(liǎng):(number) two, but only used before a noun; for example, 两(liǎng) 个(gè) 学(xué) 生(shēng): two students.

手(shǒu):(n.) hand

机(jī):(n.) machine

背(bēi):(v.) to carry

包(bāo):(n.) bag

女(nǚ):(n.) female

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) + noun。   This is her (name of the place).

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) 家(jiā)。   This is her home.

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) 学(xué) 校(xiào)。   This is her school.

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) 大(dà) 学(xué)。   This is her university.

这(zhè) 是(sh)ì 她(tā) 的(de) 办(bàn) 公(gōng 室(shì)。   This is her office.

**Literal meanings:

的(de):possessive form in Chinese, similar to (‘s) in English; for example, 老(lǎo) 师(shī) 的(de) means the teacher’s, 学(xué) 生(shēng) 的(de) means the student’s.

Interrogative Word: What...?  什么 (shěn me)      

什么 (shěn me) can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.

Example 1: Place 什(shěn) 么(me) at the beginning of a sentence when you are asking for a specific definition or details about something and the pronoun is unnecessary.

什(shěn) 么(me) 是(shì)卫(wèi) 星(xīng)? What is satellite? 

什(shěn) 么(me) 事(shì)*     What’s up/What’s the matter?

Example 2: Place 什(shěn) 么(me) at the middle of a sentence when you add an explicit pronoun to the sentence.

你(nǐ) 叫(jiào)* 什(shěn) 么(me) 名(míng)* 字(zì)*?   What is your name?

他(tā) 拿(ná) 着(zhe) 什(shěn) 么(me) 东(dōng)* 西(xi)*?  What  is he bringing/carrying?

Example 3: Place 什(shěn) 么(me) at the end of a sentence when the object is not specified and a verb is in front it.

这(zhè) 是(shì) 什(shěn) 么(me)?  What is this?

你(nǐ) 说(shuō) 什(shěn) 么(me)?   What did you just say? (ironically)

Literal Meanings***

事(shì): (n.) matter

叫(jiào): (v.) to call; to be called

名(míng): (n.) name

字(zì): (n.) word/character

名(míng) 字(zì): (n.) name

东(dōng) 西(xi): (n.) generic word for “thing” and “stuff”

Interrogative word: How...?  怎样 (zěn yàng) how

怎样 (zěn yàng) can be placed at the beginning, middle, or end of a sentence.

Example 1: Place 怎样 (zěn yàng) at the beginning of a sentence when the subject is implied and the pronoun is unnecessary.

怎(zěn) 样(yàng) 去(qù)* 学(xué) 校(xiào)?   How (do you) get to school?

怎(zěn) 样(yàng) 可以(kě yǐ)* 买(mǎi) 到(dào) 那(nà) 本(běn) 书(shū)?   How (can you) get(buy) that book? 

Example 2: Place 怎样 (zěn yàng) at the middle of a sentence when it’s followed by a verb and the the subject/object is explicit.

我(wǒ) 在(zài) 学(xué) 怎(zěn) 样(yàng) 讲(jiǎng) 中(zhōng) 文(wén)。  I am learning how to speak Chinese.

这(zhè) 个(gè) 怎(zěn) 样(yàng) 安(ān) 装(zhuāng)?  How (do I) install this?

Example 3: Place 怎样 (zěn yàng) at the end of a sentence when you are asking for an opinion.

你(nǐ) 觉得(jué dé)* 怎(zěn) 样(yàng)? How are you feeling?/How do you feel?

这(zhè) 个(gè) 吃(chī)* 起(qǐ) 来(lái)* 怎(zěn) 样(yàng)? How does this taste like?

Literal Meanings***

去(qù): (v.) to go

可以(kě yǐ):  (v.) can; able to

觉得(jué dé):(v.) to think (as an opionin)

吃(chī):(v.) to eat

来(lái):(v.) to come

起(qǐ) 来(lái):(v.) to get up

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