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An Introduction to Chinese Grammar 汉语语法入门

词组 Phrases

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Phrases are composed of words organized according to definite grammatical relations. Here are some commonly used types of phrases:

  1. 主谓词组 Subject-predicate phrase
  2. 动宾词组 Verb-object phrase
  3. 联合词组 Coordinative phrase
  4. 偏正词组 Endocentric phrase
  5. 数量词组 Numeral-measure phrase
  6. 补充词组 Complementary word phrase
  7. 方位词组 Locality phrase
  8. 同位词组 Appositive phrase
  9. 固定词组 Set phrase
  10. 介词词组 Prepositional phrase
  11. 词组 The phrase

主谓词组 Subject-Predicate Phrases

A subject-predicate phrase combines the constituents in a subject-predicate relation. For example,

  1. 头发 [hair is short] (“头发,“) (头发 is the subject is the predicate
  2. [he writes] (“,“) (”is the subject, is the predicate)

In a subject-predicate sentence the subject is first and the predicate is second. The subject is the object of the statement and is often a noun or pronoun. The predicate makes a statement about the subject and is usually a verb or adjective. No function words are used between the subject and predicate.

动宾词组 Verb-Object Phrases

In a verb-object phrase the constituents are arranged in a verb-object relation. For example,

  1. [to drink water] (“动词,“宾语) ( is the verb and is the object
  2. 写字 [to write a character] (“动词,“宾语) ( is the verb and is the object

The verb always comes first. The order in a verb-object phrase is fixed. The first word is a transitive verb, expressing an action or behavior.

联合词组 Coordinative Phrases

A coordinative phrase is formed by two or more words or phrases of the same type to express a coordinative relation. For example,

  1. [You and me] (“”、“代词) (“”、“” are both pronouns)
  2. 小心认真 [careful and serious] (“小心”、“认真形容词)(“小心”、“认真” are both adjectives)

The terms in a coordinative phrase may be separated by conjunction. The serial comma “、” can also be used to separate words in in a coordinative phrase. When more than two words are joined, a conjunction is placed before the last one. For example,

 哥哥姐姐大学。(My older brother, older sister, and I all go to university.)

A coordinative phrase has the same uses as the constituent parts that it is made from.

偏正词组 Endocentric Phrases

In an endocentric phrase the constituents are combined such that the first one decorates or limits the second. Endocentric phrases can be divided into two kinds: nominal endocentric phrases and endocentric phrase where the second constituent is either a verb or an adjective. In a nominal endocentric phrase the second part is a noun. For example, 热带森林. In this sentence, 热带 is the first part and 森林, the second part is a noun.

In a verbal or adjectival endocentric phrase the second part is either a verb or an adjective. For example, in the phrase 详细讨论讨论 [to discuss in detail], the latter part is a verb. In the phrase 漂亮 (very beautiful) the word 漂亮 [beautiful] is an adjective.

Sometimes a function word is used to connect the two parts of an endocentric phrase. For example,

  1. 安静地方 [a quiet place]
  2. 严肃 [to speak sternly]
  3. 学校 [your school]

数量词组 Numeral-Measure Word Phrases

A numeral-measure word phrase combines a numeral and a measure word into a phrase. One kind of numeral-measure word phrase combines a numeral and a nominal measure word. For example,

  1. 一本 (one book)
  2. 两个 (two units)
  3. (three vehicles)

Another kind of numeral-measure word phrase a numeral and a verbal measure word. For example,

  1. (one trip)
  2. (two times)
  3. (three times)

In general, the particle is not used between a numeral-measure word phrase and a noun. However, when then measure word and the noun are not the usual match the particle should be used. For example,

  1. 公斤 [one kilogram of books]
  2. 时间 [the duration of a game]

Some nouns can be used after the numeral to act temperarily as measure word, expressing a large quantity. For example,

  1. 桌子 [a table full of books]
  2. 屋子 [a room full of people]

When the numeral is used in a numeral-measure word phrase in front of the object then it can be ommitted. For example,

  1. 一本 —> [buy a book]
  2. —> [drink a glass of water]

补充词组 Complementary Phrases

A complementary phrase is one formed by a complementary relationship. There are two kinds of complementary phrases: verb-complement phrases and adjective-complement phrases. A verb-complement phrase is composed of a verb and a complement senentence element. For example,

  1. 干净 [clean thoroughly] (“动词,“干净补充成分) ( is the verb and 干净 is the complement
  2. 选出 [to choose from a selection] (“动词,“补充成分) ( is the verb and is the complement)

The adjective-complement phrase is composed of an adjective and a complement. For example,

  1. 极了 [very tired] (“形容词,“补充) ( is the adjective and is the complement)
  2. 一些 [a little more] (“形容词,“一些补充成分) ( is the adjective and 一些 is the complement)

Sometimes the structural particle or must be placed between the modified word and the complement. For example,

  1. [to go to sleep late]
  2. [to wake up early]
  3. 不动 [cannot walk]
  4. 不好 [to repair inadequately]

方位词组 Phrases of Locality

A phrase of locality is one where a noun of locality of modified to indicate place, time, or quantity. For example,

  1. 屋里 [in a room]
  2. 路边 [the road side]
  3. 夜里 [in the night]
  4. 几天 [a few days ago]
  5. 以上 [over ten years old]

The noun of locality is preceded by a modifier. The modifier can be a noun, pronoun, verb, or phrase.

同位词组 Appositive Phrases

A appositive phrase combines two words referring to the same person or thing from different perspectives.

  1. 列宁同志 [comrade Lenin]
  2. 自己 [him alone]
  3. 他们 [both of them]
  4. 他们夫妻 [both of them, husband and wife]
  5. 奥巴马总统 [President Obama]

固定词组 Set Phrases

A set phrase expresses a specific concept using fixed constituents. These are often proper nouns, technical terms, and idioms. For example,

  1. 人民大会堂 [Great Hall of the People]
  2. 北京语言学院 [Beijing Institute of Languages]
  3. 成千上万 [innumerable]
  4. 四面八方 [all directions]
  5. 个人电脑 [personal computer]
  6. 超文本标记语言 [Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)]

介词结构 Prepositional Phrases

A prepositional phrase is one where a preposition carries an object. A prepositional phrase can express the direction, time, place, goal, object, manner, reason, passive nature, handling, comparison, and exclusion of an action. For example,

  1. [to face towards the south — direction] (“介词,“宾语) ( is the preposition, is the object)
  2. [from three o'clock — time]
  3. 广场 [in the plaza — place]
  4. 方便 [for convenience — goal]
  5. 天安门 [to Tiananmen — object]
  6. 按照规定 [according to the rules — manner]
  7. 由于总统 [for the new president — reason]
  8. 洪水 [caught by a flood — passive nature]
  9. [to handle this affair — handling]
  10. 人家 [compared to others — comparison]
  11. [except for this — exclusion]

The main use of prepositional phrases is to act as an adverbial adjunct in sentences. For example,

  1. 北大学习。 [He studies at Beijing University.]
  2. 老师我们讲课。 [The teacher will give a lecture.]
  3. 客人热情。 [He is very friendly to customers.]

常见介词结构 Common Prepositional Patterns

The form can express the place where an action takes place or a condition exists. The form can also be used to indicate scope or aspect when an abstract noun or verb is used in between. For example,

  1. 历史上不少。 [This is not uncommon throughout history.]
  2. 宣布。 [He announced it in the meeting.]

The form can indicate a concrete position or it can indicate a condition or situation. For example,

  1. 老师帮助我们进步。 [With the help of our teachers we have all made great progress.]
  2. 在家鼓励他们孩子到了这个机会。 [With the encouragement of his parents, their child was able to obtain this opportunity.]

结构 Phrases

A phrase is one where the structural particle is attached to a notional word or phrase. For example,

  1. 报纸人家。 [This newspaper belongs to someone else.] (“代词后面) ( is attached to a pronoun)
  2. 弟弟。 [This bed is my younger brother's.] (“名词后面) ( is attached to a noun)
  3. 毛衣。 [This sweater is red.] (“形容词后面) ( is after an adjective)
  4. 参加个人。 [There are ten people attending.] (“动词后面) ( is after a verb)
  5. 参加会议。 [All the people attending the meeting are here.] (“动宾词组后面) ( is after a verb-object phrase)

A phrases acts like a noun in a sentence.

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