Basic Chinese Sentence Structure

basic grammar structure of Chinese sentences
The Most BASIC of Chinese Sentences - 主谓宾 zhǔ wèi bīn

There are six basic grammar structure elements to a Chinese sentence. They are:

主语 zhǔyǔ – “Host” (Subject)
谓语 wèiyǔ – “Does What” (Predicate)
宾语 bīnyǔ – “Guest” (Object)
定语 dìngyǔ – “Type of [Host/Guest]”
状语 zhuàngyǔ – “How [DoesWhat]”
补语 bǔyǔ – “Result”

In other posts on our video course, we’ll also talk about the latter three, but for today, we’ll talk about the first three:

Basic Chinese Sentence Structure:

Subject, Predicate, and Object

Subject, Predicate, and Object

As you’ve probably learned by now, we’re not big fans of using the same language as linguists to describe basic grammar. Luckily, Chinese has its own grammatical terminology, which is clearer than its English counterpart. For example:

主语 zhǔyǔ means “host” (主) “language” (语). Therefore, instead of calling this element of the sentence, the “subject,” we’ll call it the “host.”

谓语 wèiyǔ means “predicate,” which is a terrible word that tells you nothing. Instead of saying “predicate,” think of this section of a sentence as “Does What.” The “Host” “Does What”?

宾语 bīnyǔ means “guest” (宾) “language” (语). Just like we change “subject” to “host,” we change “object” to “guest.” 

So: The “Host” – “Does What” (to/for/with) the “Guest.” As usual, examples are better than explanations:

Mandarin Examples

Host Does What Guest

The “Host/Subject” is 我. This is the actor in the sentence. “我” does what? “我 “loves (我爱). Loves what? 你, the guest. While this may appear to be the simplest sentence structure possible, it can get even simpler:

Subject Does What
Host Does What

Both of these sentences only have “Host/Subject” and “Does What.” You can’t always do this, but in these cases, it’s perfectly fine. Here are a few more examples from The Mandarin Blueprint Method:

Subject, Predicate, and Host example
Subject, Predicate, and Host example 2
Subject, Predicate, and Host example number 3

In The Mandarin Blueprint Method (pat. pending), we use an SRS called “Anki.” 

Once signed up for our course you will be able to see all sentences that have the “Host – Does What – Guest” structure by simply searching for the tag “GS-Basic-Host-DoesWhat-Guest” in the sidebar of your flashcard browser software.