Expressing the arrangement of things in Chinese - Lesson 12 

In this online Mandarin Chinese lesson, we will learn to describe the place of things, especially in a room and in relation to each other.

desactivate pinyinprint

1. Vocabulary

  Word Pinyin Translation  
2 wài outside
3 shàng in this lesson: above
4 xià in this lesson : below
5 中间 zhōngjiān in the middle ; between
6 房间 fángjiān room
7 桌子 zhuōzi table, desk
8 椅子 yǐzi chair
9 书架 shūjià bookshelf
10 柜子 guìzi cabinet; cupboard
11 电脑 diànnǎo computer
12 手机 shǒujī mobile phone
13 黑板 hēibǎn blackboard
14 qiáng wall
15 dōu all
16 汉语 hànyǔ Chinese language
17 法语 fǎyǔ French language


  Word Pinyin Translation  
1 (classifier for chairs and some objects that fit in the hand)
2 (classifier for small devices, representations, projections, written works...)
3 tái (classifier for large machines: computer, television...)
4 kuài (classifier)

Additional words

Reminder from the previous lesson - We'd seen that a word designating a place / location and to which is added a locative suffix like ‹ bian ›, becomes a locative (equivalent to an adverb of place):

  Word Pinyin Translation  
1 里边 lǐbian (classifier for chairs and some objects that can be held)
2 外边 wàibian (classifier for small appliances, projections, handwriting,... )
3 上边 shàngbian (classifier for big machines : computer, television,...)
4 下边 xiàbian (classifier)

If you wish to learn more Chinese words such as objects that can be found in a house use our free audio picture book.

2. Grammar

A. Expressing the arrangement with the verb "to have" 有 ‹ yǒu ›

In Chinese, to indicate the existence of something in a place we use the following sentence structure:

Lieu / Direction + + Objet
  • 里边 一把椅子。 ‹ Lǐmiàn yǒu yī bǎ yǐzi. ›
    Inside there is a chair.
  • 右边 有 一个柜子。 ‹ Yòubiān yǒu yī gè guìzi. ›
    There is a cupboard on the right.

B. Position of one thing compared to another with 上 ‹ shàng ›, 下 ‹ xià ›, 里 ‹ lǐ › and 边 ‹ bian ›

In Chinese to specify the exact location of something in relation to something else we additionally use the locative suffix ‹ shàng › ("on...") , ‹ xià › ("under...") , ‹ lǐ › ("in...") et ‹ bian › ("site...; to..."), placed after the location (and not before as in English). The locative thereby created and used as an object or subject in a sentence - are useful to specify, like in English, that something is for instance "on the table", "in the room", "under the bed ",etc.

Location + ///
  • 房间 ‹ fángjiān lǐ ›
    in the room
  • 桌子 ‹ zhuōzi shàng ›
    on the desk
CAUTION: we can not place locative suffix after the name of a country, city, or more generally, behind the name of a person.

C. Use of the adverb "all" 都 ‹ dōu ›

When ‹ dōu › is used as an adverb, it is placed between the subject and the verbal sentence, like for all the adverbs in Chinese.

Subject + + Verbe + Object.
  • 在 书架上。 ‹ Shū dōu zài shūjià shàng. ›
    All the books are on the bookshelf.

3. Text


这是大卫的房间。 ‹ Zhè shì Dàwèi de fángjiān. ›
房间里有一张床,一张桌子,三把椅子,一个柜子和一个书架。 ‹ Fángjiān li yǒu yī zhāng chuáng, yī zhāng zhuōzi, sān bǎ yǐzi, yī gè guìzi hé yī gè shūjià. ›
大卫的柜子在左边,他的书架在右边。 ‹ Dàwèi de guìzi zài zuǒbiān, tā de shūjià zài yòubiān. ›
桌子在书架的旁边。 ‹ Zhuōzi zài shūjià de pángbiān. ›
桌子上有一台电脑,一部手机和四支笔。 ‹ Zhuōzi shàng yǒu yī tái diànnǎo, yī bù shǒujī hé sì zhī bǐ. ›
墙上有一块黑板和一张法国地图。 ‹ Qiáng shàng yǒu yī kuài hēibǎn hé yī zhāng fàguó dìtú. ›
大卫的书呢?都在书架上。 词典在上边,法语书在下边,汉语书都在中间。 ‹ Dàwèi de shū ne? Dōu zài shūjià shàng. Cídiǎn zài shàngmiàn, fǎyǔ shū zài xiàbian, hànyǔ shū dōu zài zhōngjiān. ›

Translation :

Here is David's room.
In the room there is a bed, a desk, three chairs, a cupboard and a bookshelf.
David's cupboard is on the left, his bookshelf is on the right.
The desk is next to the shelf.
On the desk there is a computer, a mobile phone and four pencils.
On the wall, there is a blackboard and a map of France.
And David's books? (They are) All on the bookshelf. Dictionaries are on the top, French books down, and all the Chinese books are in the middle.

4. Exercises

A. Answer the questions :

Answer the questions according to what you see on the picture.

1. 桌子上有电脑吗? ‹ Zhuōzi shàng yǒu diànnǎo ma? ›
2. 墙上有什么地图? ‹ Qiáng shàng yǒu shé me dìtú? ›
3. 桌子下有什么? ‹ Zhuōzi xià yǒu shé me? ›
4. 椅子上有什么? ‹ Yǐzi shàng yǒu shé me? ›
5. 书架上有几本书? ‹ Shūjià shàng yǒu jǐ běn shū? ›

B. Substitution exercise

Complete the dialogue with the various proposed words according to the text seen above (about David's room):

房间里 → 床
房间里 → 柜子
桌子上 → 书
墙上中 → 国地图
书架上 → 电脑

王丽:_____________ _______________ 吗?


C. Spoken and/or written Practice

Describe your room as best as you can. (Is there a desk? Where is it? What is there on it? What else is in your room? Etc.)

Inviting and proposing a choice