Some usages of 就

就 is used in both contemplated and completed actions, expressing a plan, request, command, statement or condition.

a. Indicates the immediacy of the next action.

    S1  V1 了 O1, (S2)  就 V2 O2   (了/吧)

    我  下  了  课,          就 回  家    了。

    As soon as I got out of class, I went home.

    Wǒ xià le kè, jiù huí jiā le.

b. Indicates an action takes or took place sooner or earlier than expected.

    S  Time-expression    就   VO ( 了)

    我    今天五点钟         就   起来了。

    Today I got up at five o’clock. 

    Wǒ jīntiān wǔ diǎn zhōng jiù qǐláile.

c. Means ” (if) …… then”

   (要是) S1 V1 O1  , (S2)  就 V2O2

    要是  我  有 时间,  我    就  参加。

    (If) I have time,then I will attend.

    Yàoshi wǒ yǒu shíjiān, wǒ jiù cānjiā.

d. Means “… will …    =>    … 就(会, 要) + verb …

    rúguǒ míngtiān xiàyǔ, yīnyuèhuì jiù huì qǔxiāo.

    如果明天下雨, 音乐会就会取消.

    If it rains tomorrow, the concert will be cancelled.

e.The structure “就+verb”indicates a conclusion or a resolution made on the basis of what’s been  mentioned previously. For example:

If you don’t want to go, just rest at home.

⑴ 你不想去,就在家休息吧。

Nǐ bùxiǎng qù, jiù zàijiā xiūxí ba.

The coffee here is good. Let’s drink coffee.

⑵ 这儿的咖啡不错,就喝咖啡吧。

Zhè’er de kāfēi bùcuò, jiù hē kāfēi ba.

Today is Dad’s birthday. Let’s go out for dinner.

⑶ 今天是爸爸的生日,我们就去外面吃饭吧。

Jīntiān shì bàba de shēngrì, wǒmen jiù qù wàimiàn chīfàn ba.

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The difference between 就 and 才

Time+就+verb

Time+才+verb

Both 才 and 就 can be used as an adverbial modifier before a verb

就 indicates that in the speaker’s opinion, the action happened early, or went on fast or smoothly. For example:
Why are you going to bed so early?
你怎么这么早就 要睡觉了? (earlier than expected time)
Nǐ zěnme zhème zǎo jiù yào shuìjiàole?

才 indicates that in the speaker’s opinion, the action happened late, or went on slowly or unsatisfactorily. For example:
Class begins at seven o’clock, but he doesn’t get up until eight o’clock.
七点上课,他八点才 起床。(later than expected time)
Qī diǎn shàngkè, tā bā diǎn cái qǐchuáng.

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The usage of 多+adjective?in Chinese

The adverb 多 is placed before a monosyllabic adjective to enquire about degree.

多高?How high? How tall?

Duō gāo?

多远?How far?

Duō yuǎn?

多长?How long?

Duō cháng?

多重?How heavy?

Duō zhòng?

多大?How old?

Duōdà?

When we ask “你多大?”, it is to ask the age of other person. 

Sometimes, 多大? can also be used to ask the size, for example, 

How big is this clothes?

这件衣服多大?

Zhè jiàn yīfú duōdà?

Therefore, if we want to know the exact meaning of 多大, we shall decide based on the context.

你多高?How tall are you?

Nǐ duō gāo?

我一米七五。I am one point seventy-five meters.

Wǒ yī mǐ qīwǔ.

裤子多长?How long are the trousers?

Kùzi duō cháng?

裤子长一米一。The trousers are one point one meters long.

Kùzi cháng yī mǐ yī.

公司离这儿多远?How far is the company from here?

Gōngsī lí zhè’er duō yuǎn?

公司离这儿五百米。The company is five hundred meters away from here.

Gōngsī lí zhè’er wǔbǎi mǐ.

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Two ways of describing someone or something in a certain place

Usually, we use structure “someone/something +在+ location” to describe someone or something is in a certain place. Besides this structure, we can also another one to describe it. The new structure is “location + verb着+ someone/something”

Let’s compare these two structures:

Something +在+ Location  →  Location      + verb着+ something

     沙发        在   客厅的中间→   客厅的中间  放着       沙发。

                                                    Fang Fang holds the newspaper in her hands.

                                                    方方的手上拿着报纸。

                                                    Fāng fāng de shǒu shàng názhe bàozhǐ.

                                                    Martin and Yang Jie are sitting on the sofa.

                                                    沙发上坐着马丁和杨杰。

                                                    Shāfā shàng zuòzhe mǎdīng hé yáng jié.

                                                     The car is parked outside the window.

                                                     窗户的外面停着车。

                                                     Chuānghù de wài mian tíngzhe chē.

                                                    There is an envelope on the table.

                                                    桌子上放着一个信封。

                                                    Zhuōzi shàng fàngzhe yīgè xìnfēng.

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complements of result in Chinese

Some verbs or adjectives can be used after a verb to add remarks about the result of an action. They are called complements of result. In its positive form, we need use 了. In its negative form, 没 (有)is added before the verb to form the negative form of a complement of result, in which case “了” cannot appear at the end of the sentence. For example:

He learned to swim.

他学会了游泳。                        (positive form)

Tā xuéhuìle yóuyǒng.

He did not learn to swim.

他没学会游泳。                        (negative form)

Tā méi xuéhuì yóuyǒng.

She saw her friend.

她看见了她的朋友。                 (positive form)

Tā kànjiànle tā de péngyǒu.

She did not see her friend.

她没看见她的朋友。                  (negative form)

Tā méi kànjiàn tā de péngyǒu.

She found the address.    

她找到了那个地址。             (positive form)

Tā zhǎodàole nàgè dìzhǐ.

She did not find the address.

她没找到那个地址。               (negative form)

Tā méi zhǎodào nàgè dìzhǐ.

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The differences between 能 and 会

能 can indicate something that you are able to do naturally, for example:

I can eat 3 bowls of cooked rice.
我能吃三碗米饭。
Wǒ néng chī sān wǎn mǐfàn.

能 can also be used to ask for or give permission, for example:

Can I smoke here?
我能在这里抽烟吗?
Wǒ néng zài zhèlǐ chōuyān ma?

No, you can’t.
不能。
Bùnéng

会 means that you have acquired certain abilities or skills, and that you have acquired them through learning, for example:

I can speak Mandarin.
我会说普通话。
Wǒ huì shuō pǔtōnghuà.

I can cook.
我会做饭。
Wǒ huì zuò fàn.

Can you drive?
你会开车吗?
Nǐ huì kāichē ma?

“会” also indicates what might happen in the future. For example:

It won’t rain tomorrow.
明天不会下雨。
Míngtiān bú huì xià yǔ.

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Complements of possibility introduced by “V得/不”

可能补语V得/不 Complements of possibility introduced by “V得/不”

In Chinese, “V得+Complements” or “V不+Complements” can be used to indicate whether or not a result can be obtained or a goal be reached.”V得+Complements” is the positive form, and “V不+Complements” is the negative form. The complements used in this structure are usually complements of result or direction, and certain adjectives or verbs. For example:
找得到 can find
Zhǎo de dào
找不到 can’t find
Zhǎo bu dào
拿得走can take
Ná de zǒu
拿不走can’t take
Ná bu zǒu
搬得走can move
Bān de zǒu
搬不走can’t move
Bān bu zǒu

You sit behind (which means far from the stage), is it possible that you can’t see (the performance)?
你坐在 后边,会不会看不见?
Nǐ zuò zài hòubian, huì bú huì kàn bùjiàn?

I can see.
我看得见。
Wǒ kàn de jiàn.

This suitcase is a little small, is it possible that this suitcase can’t load all these things?
这个箱子有点儿小,会不会放不下?
Zhège xiāngzi yǒudiǎn er xiǎo, huì bú huì fàng búxià?

It can load all these things.
放得下。
Fàng de xià.

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The additional function of the question pronoun in Chinese

In addition to the function of expressing doubt and rhetorical question, the question pronoun in Chinese also has the function of expressing any people or things. For example, “谁” refers to anyone, “什么” means anything, “怎么” refers to any way and method, “哪儿” means anywhere, “什么时候” means any time. In such case, they are usually used together with “都” or “也”.

You can only use “都” in the affirmative sentence. In the negative sentence, you can use either “都” or “也”

Sentence structure:

Affirmation form: 谁/什么/怎么/哪儿/什么时候+都+verb……. .

For example:

I’m hungry. I want to eat anything.
我很饿,我什么都想吃。
Wǒ hěn è, wǒ shénme dōu xiǎng chī.

The teacher is like an encyclopedia, he knows everything.
老师像一本百科全书,什么都懂。
Lǎoshī xiàng yī běn bǎikē quánshū, shénme dōu dǒng.

You can come at any time you like.
你什么时候来都可以。( 什么时候=任何时候)
Nǐ shénme shíhòu lái dōu kěyǐ.

Negative form: 谁/什么/怎么/哪儿/什么时候+都/也+ 不/没+verb……

For example:

He doesn’t look like either of them.
他谁都不像。
Tā shéi dōu bù xiàng.

David was a bit carsick, and David didn’t want to eat anything while on the car.
大卫有点儿晕车,坐车的时候,大卫什么都不想吃。
Dà wèi yǒudiǎn er yùnchē, zuòchē de shíhòu, dà wèi shénme dōu bùxiǎng chī.

She caught a cold and didn’t want to eat anything.
她感冒了,什么也不想吃。( 什么 what =任何食物 any food)
Tā gǎnmàole, shénme yě bùxiǎng chī.

Follow the example and rewrite the sentences.

He doesn’t look like his mother or his father. He doesn’t look like either of them.
他长得不像妈妈也不像爸爸。 → 他谁都不像。
Tā zhǎng de bú xiàng māma yě bú xiàng bàba. Tā shéi dōu bú xiàng.

There are no people I know here. I don’t know anyone.
在这儿没有我认识的人。 → 我谁都不认识。
Zài zhè’er méiyǒu wǒ rènshì de rén. Wǒ shéi dōu bú rènshì.

No one will be on a business trip next month. No one is going on a business trip next month.
下个月没有人出差。 → 下个月谁都不出差。
Xià gè yuè méiyǒu rén chūchāi. Xià gè yuè shéi dōu bù chūchāi.

Neither my friend nor I like that restaurant. None of us like that restaurant.
我和我朋友都不喜欢那个饭馆。 → 我们谁都不喜欢那个饭馆。
Wǒ hé wǒ péngyǒu dōu bù xǐhuān nàgè fàn guǎn. Wǒmen shéi dōu bù xǐhuān nàgè fànguǎn.

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除了……以外

除了……以外:This structure has two implications.

① When used in “除了A(以外)……还/也B”, it indicates the coexistence of both A and B, as is found in the example as below:
Besides English, I can also speak Chinese.
除了英文以外,我也会说中文。
Chúle yīngwén yǐwài, wǒ yě huì shuō zhōngwén.

Besides meat, I also like eating fish.
除了肉以外,我也喜欢吃鱼。
Chúle ròu yǐwài, wǒ yě xǐhuān chī yú.

② When used in “除了A(以外),B都…..”, it indicates the exclusion of A, as is found in the example as below:
Everyone is watching TV except me.
除了我,大家都在看电视。
Chúle wǒ, dàjiā dōu zài kàn diànshì.

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Separable verb

Separable verb is also known as: 离合词 (líhécí) and verb-object phrase.

“Separable verbs” get their name from their ability to “separate” into two parts (a verb part and an object part), with other words in between. In fact, you could also simply call separable verbs “verb-object phrases.”

What Are They

Purely from the “separable” aspect, Mandarin’s separable verbs have a counterpart in English: phrasal verbs (also called two-word verbs). While the grammatical components of English’s phrasal verbs are different, the “separable” quality works in a very similar way. Take the phrasal verb “check out” for example:

  • Check out my new computer.
  • Check my new computer out.

Do you see what happened there? The verb “check out” can split into two parts (a verb and a preposition), and other words can go in between those two parts. Separable verbs work much the same way in Chinese, except that the two parts are a verb and an object (a noun).

Let’s look at a typical example in Chinese, using the verb 见面, meaning “to meet.” 见 is the verb; 面 is the object, literally meaning “face.”

  • 我 想 见面  。Wǒ xiǎng jiànmiàn .
  • 我 想 见  。Wǒ xiǎng jiàn .
  • 我 想  你 见面 。the prepositional phrase, literally “with you,” comes before the verbWǒ xiǎng gēn nǐ jiànmiàn.

Perhaps the most common examples of separable verbs that beginners struggle with are 见面 and 睡觉.

Below we will introduce separable verbs in more detail, provide more examples, and also offer more specific cases of where separable verbs can get tricky.

Why Use Them

If separable verbs are simply verb-object phrases, then why the special name? It’s because there are some special features of Chinese verb-object phrases worth special attention, and the name “separable verbs” helps call attention to this. Mastering separable verbs can be a little tricky, and is an essential objective of the intermediate level learner of Chinese.

Separable verbs are just one of those things you can’t avoid. Many extremely common verbs, such as “to sleep” (睡觉) or “to meet” (见面) are separable verbs, and until you understand which verbs are separable verbs and how they work, you’ll forever be making mistakes with these verbs, even in very basic sentences.

Basic Usage

First, you need to understand the structure of separable verbs. Most separable verbs are a “Verb + Object” (the object is a noun) construct. One might wonder, then, why there needs to be a separate category called “separable verbs” instead of just thinking of them as a verb and an object. There are several reasons to think of them as special verbs:

  1. Many separable verbs can’t be easily translated into other languages in a way that makes both the verb and the object part clear. For example, 见面 (to meet), and 结婚 (to get married). In these examples, it’s just not easy to think of the objects as an object.
  2. The relationship between the verb and the object in a separable verb pair is very close; adding the object to the verb is sort of the “default form” of the verb, even if the verb part can be used without the object.
  3. Separable verbs are a source of frequent errors from learners of Chinese. No matter how you think of them, it’s good to give these “words” or “phrases” extra attention to make your Chinese more natural.

The key to using separable verbs correctly is to remember that they are “Verb + Object” constructs. The verb alone must be treated as a verb, and the object cannot be treated as a verb. It’s from this essential relationship that the following principles flow:

Common Examples

  • 帮忙 (bāngmáng) to help; to do a favor

帮 is the verb; 忙 is the object, meaning “a favor.”

  • 我们 可以 帮忙 你 。Wǒmen kěyǐ bāngmáng nǐ.
  • 我们 可以 帮 你 。Wǒmen kěyǐ bāng nǐ.We can help you.
  • 我们 可以 帮忙 。Wǒmen kěyǐ bāngmáng.We can do (you) this favor.

If you want to ask someone to do you a favor, check this out:

  • 你 可以 帮 我 一个  吗 ?Nǐ kěyǐ bāng wǒ yī gè máng ma?Can you do me a favor?
  • 结婚 (jiéhūn) to get married

结 is the verb; 婚 acts as the object, meaning “marriage.” However, 婚 cannot be used as a noun very much.

  • 我 想 结婚 她 。Wǒ xiǎng jiéhūn tā.
  • 我 想  她 结婚 。the prepositional phrase, literally “with her,” comes before the verbWǒ xiǎng gēn tā jiéhūn.I want to get married to her.
  • 聊天 (liáotiān) to chat; to talk (about things in general)

聊 is the verb; 天 acts as the object.

  • 他 很 喜欢 聊天 女生 。Tā hěn xǐhuan liáotiān nǚshēng.
  • 上班 时间 不要 聊天 。Shàngbān shíjiān bùyào liáotiān.
  • 他 很 喜欢  女生 聊天 。the prepositional phrase, literally “with you,” comes before the verbTā hěn xǐhuan gēn nǚshēng liáotiān.He loves talking with girls.

Literally, 天 doesn’t mean anything. The object needs to be something specific if you mean to be clear. An important note to keep in mind is that you don’t need to translate “about” into 关于 in this scenario.

  • 爸爸 不 喜欢 聊天 他 的 工作 。Bàba bù xǐhuan liáotiān tā de gōngzuò.
  • 爸爸 不 喜欢 聊 关于 他 的 工作 。Bàba bù xǐhuan liá guānyú tā de gōngzuò.
  • 爸爸 不 喜欢 聊 他 的 工作 。Bàba bù xǐhuan liáo tā de gōngzuò.My father doesn’t like to talk about his work.
  • 创业 (chuàngyè) to start up one’s business

创 is the verb; 业 is the object.

  • 我 想 创业 自己 的 公司 。Wǒ xiǎng chuàngyè zìjǐ de gōngsī.
  • 我 想 创业 。Wǒ xiǎng chuàngyè.I want to start up my own business.

If you mean to say “to launch a company” or “to set up your business,” use this sentence below:

  • 我 想 开 公司 。Wǒ xiǎng kāi gōngsī.I want to lunch my business.

Where to put 了, 过, 着

Examples

见面 (jiànmiàn)

  • 我们 昨天 见  面 。separated, 了 insertedWǒmen zuótiān jiàn le miàn.We’ve met yesterday.
  • 我们 见  面 。separated, 过 insertedWǒmen jiàn guo miàn.We’ve met.

开会 (kāihuì)

  • 我们 早上 开  会 。Wǒmen zǎoshang kāi le huì.We had a meeting this morning.
  • 你们 开  会 了 吗 ?Nǐmen kāi guo huì le ma?Have you had the meeting yet?
  • 我们 开  会 呢 。Wǒmen kāi zhe huì ne.We’re having a meeting right now.

吃饭 (chīfàn)

  • 他 昨天 来 我 家 了 ,还 吃  饭 。Tā zuótiān lái wǒ jiā le, hái chī le fàn.He came to my house yesterday and he ate a meal with us.
  • 他 吃  饭 了 吗 ?Tā chī guo fàn le ma?Has he eaten yet?
  • 他 吃  饭 呢 。Tā chī zhe fàn ne.He’s eating a meal right now.

Note: unlike the particles 过 and 着, the particle 了 is especially tricky, and it can also appear after the object. So it can be correct in multiple places.

Where to Put Measure Words

Examples

  • 见面 (jiànmiàn)
  • 我们 见  面 吧 。Wǒmen jiàn  miàn ba.Let’s meet.
  • 我们 见 过  面。Wǒmen jiàn guo jǐ cì miàn.We’ve met a few times.
  • 吃饭 (chīfàn)
  • 我们 一起 吃 过  饭 。Wǒmen yīqǐ chī guo jǐ cì fàn.We’ve had several meals together.
  • 老板 请 大家 吃 了  饭 。Lǎobǎn qǐng dàjiā chīle yī dùn fàn.The boss invited everyone to dinner.
  • 睡觉 (shuìjiào)
  • 晚安!睡  好 觉 。Wǎn’ān! Shuì  hǎo jiào.Good night! I hope you can have some good sleep.
  • 昨晚 我 只 睡 了 小时 觉 。Zuówǎn wǒ zhǐ shuì le liǎng gè xiǎoshí jiào.I only slept two hours last night.

How to Reduplicate

Reduplication is a way to express the casual nature of a verb, or that it happens only briefly. When it comes to separable verbs, only the verb part reduplicates.

Examples

  • 见 见 面jiàn jiàn miàn
  • 吃 吃 饭chī chī fàn
  • 聊 聊 天liáo liáo tiān
  • 吃  吃饭 is the object; it should not be repeated.)chī fàn chīfàn
  • 聊  聊天 is the object; it should not be repeated.liáo tiān liáotiān

Note that separable verbs can’t be used with 一下 to express it happens briefly.

  • 见面 一下jiànmiàn yīxià

Academic debate

There is some debate as to how useful the concept of separable verbs really is. For our purposes, we’re only concerned with whether or not separable verbs are a useful concept for the student of Mandarin Chinese. Many learners do, in fact, find the concept to be quite useful in helping them speak more natural Chinese.

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