Basic Chinese Grammar - Lesson 04

Chinese grammar is much less complicated than the English one. The real challenge will remain that of learning some new characters every day.


No Conjugation

The first good news is that the Chinese language does not conjugates verbs. These remain to the "infinitive"form.

(v.) to be
  我是 wǒ shì I am
你是 nǐ shì You are
他是 tā shì He is

Past and future

As we have just seen, whatever the subject is, the verb does not change. This is also the case for the tense. Indeed the verb doesn't change if we speak about the present or about the future.

In order to refer to the past and to the future in a Mandarin Chinese sentence, we will use two different methods:

1/ Add time markers words and expressions such as "yesterday", "last year", "next week" ... The time marker goes between the subject and verb in a Chinese sentence: S + time marker + V.

2/ To say that an action has been done (therefor in the past), add the particle "le" after the verb or at the end of the sentence.

我昨天去 Wǒ zuótiān qù Yesterday, I went
我明天去 Wǒ míngtiān qù Tomorrow, I will go
我去了 Wǒ qù le I went
As we can see in these examples, the verb "qù" 去 (aller) does not change.

Singular and plural of nouns

There is no difference between singular and plural nouns in Chinese. In other words, there is no equivalent in Chinese for plurals in "-s". The context is therefor important to understand whether to translate as singular or plural:

马喜欢吃苹果。 Mǎ xǐhuan
chī píngguǒ.
Horses love to eat apples.

Introductions in Chinese