Chinese grammar

ChineseChinese aspect markersChinese aspectsChinese grammar → AspectsChinese grammar → Cleft sentencesChinese grammar → Relative clausesChinese grammar: Aspectsflavouring particlegrammargrammar of Standard Chinese
This article concerns Modern Standard Chinese.wikipedia
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Head-directionality parameter

head-finalhead-initialhead final
Otherwise, Chinese is chiefly a head-last language, meaning that modifiers precede the words they modify – in a noun phrase, for example, the head noun comes last, and all modifiers, including relative clauses, come in front of it. This phenomenon is more typically found in SOV languages like Turkish and Japanese.
For more details and examples of the relevant structures, see Chinese grammar.

Grammatical tense

tensetensesverb tense
Categories such as number (singular or plural) and verb tense are frequently not expressed by any grammatical means, although there are several particles that serve to express verbal aspect, and to some extent mood.
Languages that do not have grammatical tense, such as Chinese, express time reference chiefly by lexical means – through adverbials, time phrases, and so on. (The same is done in tensed languages, to supplement or reinforce the time information conveyed by the choice of tense.) Time information is also sometimes conveyed as a secondary feature by markers of other categories, as with the Chinese aspect markers le and guo, which in most cases place an action in past time.

Serial verb construction

serial verbverb serializationserial verbs
Chinese frequently uses serial verb constructions, which involve two or more verbs or verb phrases in sequence.
In Chinese, as in Southeast Asian languages, when a transitive verb is followed by an intransitive verb, the object of the combined verb may be understood as the object of the first verb and the subject of the second: "the tiger bit Zhang to death", where Zhang is understood as the direct object of yǎo ("bite") but as the subject of sǐ ("die").

Chinese particles

particleparticlesgrammatical particle
Categories such as number (singular or plural) and verb tense are frequently not expressed by any grammatical means, although there are several particles that serve to express verbal aspect, and to some extent mood.
Chinese verbs

Classifier (linguistics)

classifierclassifiersnumeral classifier
Chinese nouns require classifiers called liàngcí in order to be counted.
(Plurals of Chinese nouns are not normally marked in any way; the same form of the noun is used for both singular and plural.)

Verb

verbsv.verbal morphology
Most two-syllable compound nouns have the head on the right, while in compound verbs the head is usually on the left.
Chinese verbs

Adjective

adjectivesadjectivalattributive adjective
Predicate adjectives are normally used without a copular verb ("to be"), and can thus be regarded as a type of verb.
Such an analysis is possible for the grammar of Standard Chinese, for example.

Object (grammar)

objectdirect objectindirect object
Transitive verbs precede their objects in typical simple clauses, while the subject precedes the verb.
Some Chinese verbs can have two direct objects, one being more closely bound to the verb than the other; these may be called "inner" and "outer" objects.

Coverb

verbal prefixAuxiliaries
Chinese prepositions behave similarly to serialized verbs in some respects, and they are often referred to as coverbs.
For more information, see the article on Chinese grammar, particularly the sections on coverbs and locative phrases.

Standard Chinese phonology

tonefour tonesneutral tone
This may be connected with the preferred metrical structure of the language.
Weak syllables are usually grammatical markers such as 了 le, or the second syllables of some compound words (although many other compounds consist of two or more full syllables).

A-not-A question

A-not-A
An alternative is the A-not-A construction, using phrases like chī bu chī (, "eat or not eat").
In Chinese, there are 6 attested patterns of A-not-A: A-not-A, AB-not-AB, A-not-AB, AB-not-A, a-not-A, and a-not-AB of which "A" stands for the full form of the predicate, "B" stands for the complement, and "a" stands for the first syllable of a disyllabic predicate.

Chinese pronouns

personal pronouns
It is used with personal pronouns, as in wǒmen (, "we" or "us"), derived from wǒ (, "I, me").
Chinese grammar

Preposition and postposition

prepositionpostpositionprepositions
Chinese prepositions behave similarly to serialized verbs in some respects, and they are often referred to as coverbs.
Chinese: 桌子上 zhuōzi shàng (lit. "table on"); this is a nominal form which usually requires an additional preposition to form an adverbial phrase (see Chinese locative phrases)

Chinese classifier

measure wordclassifierclassifiers
As in many east Asian languages, classifiers or measure words are required when using numerals—and sometimes other words such as demonstratives—with nouns.
Chinese grammar

Cleft sentence

cleftingcleftclefts
There is a construction in Chinese known as the shì ... [de] construction, which produces what may be called cleft sentences.
See Chinese grammar → Cleft sentences for details.

Grammatical aspect

aspectaspectualaspects
Categories such as number (singular or plural) and verb tense are frequently not expressed by any grammatical means, although there are several particles that serve to express verbal aspect, and to some extent mood. There are two aspect markers that are especially commonly used with past events: the perfective-aspect le and the experiential guò . Some authors, however, do not regard guo zhe as markers of aspect.
Experiential: 'I have gone to school many times' (see for example Chinese aspects)

Delimitative aspect

durativedurative aspectDelimitative
many verbs, to mark the delimitative aspect ("to do something for a little bit") or for general emphasis – see the section
For details see Chinese grammar → Aspects.

Perfective aspect

perfectiveperfectPerfective verbs
There are two aspect markers that are especially commonly used with past events: the perfective-aspect le and the experiential guò . Some authors, however, do not regard guo zhe as markers of aspect.
Chinese grammar: Aspects

Grammar

grammaticalgrammaticallyrules of language
The grammar of Standard Chinese shares many features with other varieties of Chinese.

Standard Chinese

MandarinChineseMandarin Chinese
The grammar of Standard Chinese shares many features with other varieties of Chinese.

Varieties of Chinese

ChineseSiniticChinese varieties
The grammar of Standard Chinese shares many features with other varieties of Chinese.

Inflection

inflectedinflectional morphologyinflect
The language almost entirely lacks inflection, so that words typically have only one grammatical form.

Grammatical number

numbersingularnumbers
Categories such as number (singular or plural) and verb tense are frequently not expressed by any grammatical means, although there are several particles that serve to express verbal aspect, and to some extent mood.