A Sentence Within a Chinese Word

A Sentence Within a Chinese Word

Word Structure: Subject-Predicate 主谓式

This is part 5 of an 8-part series exploring all 7 types of Chinese compound words. Part 5 is about a sentence within a Chinese word. Click below for the other parts:

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6 – Part 7 – Part 8

Subject-Predicate 主谓式

Subject-Predicate 主谓式 words are almost like a sentence in and of themselves. Take the example 地震 (dìzhèn “Earthquake”). The first morpheme is a noun and is like a Subject (地 dì “Ground”), and the second is the verb that happens to the Subject, which functions just like a predicate. In this case, 震 zhèn means “shake.” So what happened to the ground? The ground shook (earthquake). This is called a sentence within a Chinese word. 地怎么样呢? 地震了。

Nouns that make a sentence into a Chinese word

地震 dìzhèn


面包 miànbāo

Bread. (Noodle & Wrap- what happened to the noodles? They got bound up into bread. 面怎么样?面包了)

眼花 yǎnhuā

Have blurred vision (eye & blurred, what happened to the eyes? The eyes got blurred. 眼睛怎么样?眼睛花了)

耳鸣 ěrmíng

Have a ringing sensation in one’s ears (ear & ring, what happened to the ears? The ears are ringing. 耳朵怎么样?耳朵鸣了)

政变 zhèngbiàn

Government Coup (government & change, what happened to the government? The government changed. 政府怎么样?政府变了.)

日食 rìshí

Solar Eclipse (sun & eclipse, what happened to the sun? The sun got eclipsed. 太阳怎么样?日食了


口臭 kǒuchòu

bad breath (mouth & smell, what is happening to the mouth? It become smelly)

性急 xìngjí

Impatient; short-tempered (personality & anxious, what is happening to the personality? It become anxious)

光明 guāngmíng

Bright, promising (light & bright, what is happening to the light? The light is clear (and thus bright) )

火大 huǒdà

Very angry (temper & big, what is happening to the temper? The temper is big.)

自愿 zìyuàn

Voluntary (oneself & desire, what happened to oneself? Oneself desired to do something)

外来 wàilái

To come from outside (outside & come, what happened from the outside? Something came from the outside)

外在,内在 wàizài, nèizài

External & Internal- (outside/inside & located at) What happened to the Inside(outside)? It got located internally(externally).

内向,外向- nèixiàng, wàixiàng

Introverted & Extroverted- (inside/outside & siding with, what happened with the inside (outside)? It got sided with, or inclined towards, aka Introverted/Extroverted)

Verbs That Make a Sentence Into a Word

心疼 xīnténg

to love dearly, painfully (heart & painful, what did the heart do? It loved so much it hurt)

眼红 yǎnhóng

to covet, to envy (eyes & red, what did the eyes do? They turned red because of how jealous he was)

情愿 qíngyuàn

to desire (feelings & desire, what did the feelings do? They desired something)

日出 rìchū

Sunrise- (sun & appear, what did the sun do? The sun appeared)

目击 mùjī

to see with one’s own eyes (eye & come in contact with, what did the eyes do? They came in contact with an event)

自嘲 zìcháo

Make fun of oneself

自省 zìxǐng


自作 zìzuò

To Act for Oneself

自卫 zìwèi

to defend oneself

What did the self (自) do? It made fun of (嘲 cháo) itself, reflected (省 xǐng) itself, did (作 zuò) for itself, defended (卫 wèi) itself.

So these are all sentences within a Chinese word.