From in Chinese -Chinese Preposition 从 cóng

FROM Where in Chinese - How to Use 从

How do people, places, things, events, etc., relate to each other? Is someone doing something “for” someone else? How about “to” them? What’s the origin “from” one thing to another, or distance “from” two places? We’ll discuss all of these in upcoming posts but for now, let’s discuss the Chinese Preposition 从 cóng – from in Chinese.

When I was a kid, the word “preposition” made my brain shut off. There was (and still is) something about linguistic jargon that aggravated me because it always felt so pointless. 

When I started learning about Chinese grammar, I came across the word 介词 jiècí – ‘preposition,’ but instead of my brain shutting off, I suddenly realized that prepositions are “relators.” 介 is the main character in the word “介绍 jièshào – to introduce.” Another way to conceptualize “introducing” is “to create a new relationship.” Now, the idea of a ‘preposition’ wasn’t so scary. They’re mere ‘relators’!

That’s why, in The Mandarin Blueprint Method, we refer to prepositions as “relators.”

Chinese Preposition 从 cóng – From in Chinese

The eighth character you learn in The Mandarin Blueprint Method is the relator 从 cóng, which means “from in Chinese”. In these example sentences, you’ll notice that 从 cóng helps relate origins to their destinations.

Sentence 1:

有一只狗从门口走过来。 – Level 15
Yǒu yī zhī gǒu cóng ménkǒu zǒu guòlai. 
A dog walked over from the door.

In this sentence, the origin point is “门口 ménkǒu,” and “过来 guòlái” indicating that the dog is heading towards the speaker (if it were away from the speaker it would be 过去 guòqù). Therefore, the function of 从 cóng – from in Chinese is to relate the origin point (门口 ménkǒu) to the speaker. 

Sentence 2 with 从 cóng – From in Chinese:

这只狗被我从桌子上打下来了。 – Level 17
Zhè zhī gǒu bèi wǒ cóng zhuōzi shàng dǎ le xiàlái le.
This dog got knocked down from the table by me.

In this sentence, the motion goes from (从 cóng) the tabletop (桌子上 zhuōzi shàng) down to the floor (下来 xiàlái). This is the primary relationship that makes it necessary to use 从; everything else explains what and how, but as always, 从 cóng is about relating origin points to destinations.

Sentence 3:

她把手机从口袋里拿出来。 – Daily Life Phrase
Tā bǎ shǒujī cóng kǒudài lǐ náchūlái.
She took the phone out of/from her pocket.

It’s become an everyday activity to take your phone out of your pocket, so let’s consider how to conceptualize that in Chinese. The origin point of the phone is inside your pocket (口袋里 kǒudài lǐ). You “hold” (拿 ná) phones (手机 shǒujī), and because it was inside your pocket, it “comes out” (出来 chūlái). Therefore, the basic movement is from 从 the pocket 口袋里 to coming out (出来). 

As you move forward, whenever you see “从 cóng – from in Chinese” ask yourself, “where is the origin point, and where is it going?” Very soon, you’ll naturally output “从 cóng – from in Chinese” correctly.

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Chinese Prepositions
4 January , 2021
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