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Lesson Transcript


Hi everybody! Yinru here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Chinese questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is: What is the proper word order in a sentence?
Unlike the pronunciation and writing system, sentence structure in Chinese is not as confusing and exotic. For most simple sentences, word order in Chinese is similar to that in English.
Let’s look at some basic SVO sentences, which are sentences with Subject + Verb + Object word order.
我爱你。(Wǒ ài nǐ. “I love you.”) The subject is 我 (Wǒ), the verb 爱 (ài), and the object 你 (nǐ). Just like in English.
他吃面. (Tā chīmiàn. “He eats noodles.”) The subject is 他 (Tā), the verb 吃 (chī), and the object 面 (miàn).
If you want to add a time phrase in the sentence, you usually put this phrase after the subject. For example:
他星期二吃面。(Tā xīngqīèr chīmiàn. “He eats noodles on Tuesdays.”)
我一直很爱你。(Wǒ yìzhí hěn ài nǐ. “I always love you.”)
你昨天晚上洗澡了吗? (Nǐ zuótiān wǎnshang xǐzǎo le ma? “Did you take a shower last night?”)
If you want to add a “place” in a sentence, like “where” someone does something, you also put it after the subject, before the verb. Let’s see a couple of examples:
他在家吃面。(Tā zài jiā chīmiàn. “He eats noodles at home.”)
我的好朋友在伦敦工作。(Wǒ de hǎopéngyou zài Lúndūn gōngzuò. “My good friend works in London.”)
What if we have a “time” and “place” at the same time? Usually we put time after the subject, then place, then verb, or verb + object. For example:
我的好朋友去年在伦敦工作。(Wǒ de hǎopéngyou qùnián zài Lúndūn gōngzuò. “My good friend worked in London last year.”)
他们上个星期六晚上在电影院看电影. (Tāmen shàngge xīngqī liù wǎnshang zài diànyǐngyuàn kàn diànyǐng. “They saw a movie at a movie theater last Saturday night.”)
Of course, there are exceptions to the rules, and many times components are omitted in different cases, but the above word order is the basic foundation for sentence structure in Chinese.


Like always, if you have any more questions, please leave a comment below!
I’ll see you next time!
我们下次再见!Wǒmen xiàcì zàijiàn!