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The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast No 86

86. How to Say “Towards” in Chinese

Podcast Duration: 00:56:40

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The Mandarin Blueprint Podcast focuses primarily on The Mandarin Blueprint Method online curriculum. Creators Luke Neale & Phil Crimmins answer questions and comments, discuss topics related to China and Mandarin learning, and have special guests.

86. How to Say "Towards" in Chinese

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5:11 Grammar Point


1. You use 往 to indicate what direction the subject is taking action towards. It’s a different word order than English.

2. While it’s possible that 往下 literally means “down towards,” it can also mean “keep going.”

3. When you’re at a train station, airport, or other location that has transportation signage, you’ll notice the following structure:

Let’s take a look at some example sentences

You use 往 to indicate what direction the subject is taking action towards. It’s a different word order than English. For example:

Sentence 1:

我们往上面走。 – Level 18
Wǒmen wǎng shàngmian zǒu.
We’ll walk towards the top.

Subject + 往 + Direction/Location + Action

我们 + 往 + 上面 + 走

In English, we’d say “walking towards the top,” whereas the order in Chinese is “towards the top walking.” You’ve probably picked up by now that Chinese often places the action towards the end of a phrase (with a few exceptions).

Sentence 2:

我正在往回走!- Level 18
Wǒ zhèngzài wǎng huí zǒu!
I’m heading back now!

Here’s another example using 走 as the action, but in this case, the direction is 回. In English, we’d say “heading” back, but in Chinese, you stick with the same character of “往“ for ’towards’ or ‘heading.’ 

Sentence 3:

一直往前走吧。- Level 22
Yīzhí wǎng qián zǒu ba.
Go straight.

We put this sentence here because it’s one of the most common phrases you’ll say to a taxi driver. It’s literally “Straight (一直) towards (往) the front (前) go (走).

Sentence 4:

往前一步是进,往后一步是退。 – Level 25
Wǎng qián yī bù shì jìn, wǎng hòu yībù shì tuì.
One step forward is progression, and one step back is regression.

In this case, the action is “一步,” and the direction is either forward (前) or backward (后). In this sentence, the entire phrase is the subject, with a basic Subject + Verb + Object structure.

Subject: 往前(后)一步
Verb: 是
Object: 进 (退)

“Keep Going” Usage

往下 + Action – Keep doing “Action”

While it’s possible that 往下 literally means “down towards,” it can also mean “keep going.” For example:

Wǎng xià jiǎng.
Keep talking.

Wǎng xià dú/kàn.
Keep reading.

A Written Usage of 往

When you’re at a train station, airport, or other location that has transportation signage, you’ll notice the following structure:

Action + 往 + Place or Direction

Fēi wǎng Chéngdū de fēijī.
Airplane headed to Chengdu.

Yùn wǎng Zhījiāgē de huòwù.
Cargo shipped to Chicago.

Now that you’ve seen 往 used in these different contexts, lookout for it moving forward in your reading and listening.

12:49 Comments & Emails

Asa Weinstein by Community

Hi There,
I just started the course last week and am really enjoying the smooth progression and acquisition. Having a regular routine is helping tremendously. Doesn’t feel like work at all!
I just wanted to inquire when you think that using something like iTalki would be truly helpful and not confusing due to a lack of foundational knowledge. I know I’m not anywhere near practicing with a native speaker, but it would be helpful to know when it would be useful and helpful.



Ed S by Community

Hello. I live and work in Shanghai. I initially learned Mandarin in a traditional setting. Like many on this forum, I came out of that experience underwhelmed and a bit frustrated at the amount of time and effort I’d spent learning Mandarin (mostly spoken) with what I considered very limited proficiency and confidence in my abilities. 

I stopped learning/practicing Mandarin, despite living here, partly because of this disheartening experience. 

Recently, I found that I had a lot of extra time in my day. Looking to turn this into something positive, I started learning mnemonics (building memory palaces, a PAO systems, reading Buzan, Lorayne, O’Brien, Dellis, Zupp, etc.) and stumbled on the MBM. It seemed serendipitous, so thought I’d give Mandarin another go. 

I completed level one and am doing a thorough review of the HMM before moving on to level two. 


Gregory Savage ON ANKI DECK(S) INSIDE – Level 9 Complete

I ALMOST stopped being here for the outcome and now I am here for the method. I love my memory palace.


Phill Challinor on Level 13 Complete

Still loving this and feeling massive sense of achievement with
every character and word learned and sentence read. Great stuff!


Sue Freeman on Anny 老师 Reviews: Tones

Hi thank you for the course work; very enjoyable.


Heath Campbell on Self-Evaluation: What’s Your Chinese Level?

I have been using Duolingo for about 16 months to learn
Mandarin. Much of it has stuck but much of it hasn’t. I can read
some and speak some. Prior to finding your course I was finding I had been losing momentum in my study as I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel and didn’t know how I could possibly remember all that I had learnt. I can see it is possible now.
Your pronunciation course has been extremely helpful because my own pronunciation sucked.


Aidan Tierney on Simple Final E: 的 de,他的 tāde,她的妈妈 tāde māma,她的爸爸 tāde bàba

Great course, I didn’t plan on learning Chinese but now I am!
and I am really enjoying the lessons.


Mason Royal on YOU DID IT!!!

This course was fantastic. I started learning Mandarin about a
year and a half ago and somehow never learned the correct tongue placements. This explains why so many Chinese people didn’t understand me when I spoke Chinese. It really kills your ego when you spend so much time learning and studying to not even be able to communicate.

I was using a different online course, but have found this to be
much more comprehensive and helpful so far. It is nice to hear
you guys’ advice and perspectives on different parts of learning
the language as someone who has experienced and is going through those difficulties. While the material was review for me, I liked how you incorporated practical Chinese into the pronunciation learning process. I appreciate the bonuses on mindset, habit building, and connecting us to outside resources as well.


Colin O’Haran on YOU DID IT!!!

I’ve been learning Swedish for the last couple years and had
reached a pretty good level. I was wondering what language I
would start learning next, I had planned on something easier for English speakers like Spanish and maybe sometime in the future try to tackle Mandarin. But I did decide to just watch a couple videos on this site and see what Chinese is all about. Well I couldn’t stop watching and here I am doing Mandarin Anki cards everyday and fully dedicated to the long journey of becoming fluent in Mandarin. What you guys have done here is amazing. On a technical and philosophical level as far as your approach to language learning, motivation, habit forming etc. I really see learning mandarin not only as a journey to learning a new language but as a journey of self discovery. Thank you all and look forward to continuing down the path.


Heath Campbell on Special Effects & Memory Athletics

I don’t have a scene to add…yours will do me just fine. I have
used this method in the past and it works really well. I
memorised the first verse of the Major General Song from Pirates of Penzance (needed a new party trick) in 20 minutes. One line is “I know the kings of England and I quote their fights historical”
So I pictured the 3 Kings sitting on my couch and me at the
mantel piece quoting their fights back to them. I’m looking
forward to getting stuck into this.


Jeanne Clayton on MAKE A MOVIE 半

Thank you – I best get back onto the course again. Not done
anything for a week. Whoops. Our lives are covid covid covid, and I’d much rather be learning a language.


Alex Sumray on MAKE A MOVIE 个

I have to say; I’m so excited to when we’ll be able to read
To see a row of Chinese characters, have all these images we have conjured in a Sherlock-esque (..or you know, Charles Magnussen’s) and be able to decipher the meaning is going to be quite wonderful.


Alex Sumray on MAKE A MOVIE 什

Slightly confused; does ‘shen’ differ from ‘shenme’ at all?


Dawn Shannon on The “Fake I” & Problem Initial SH Quiz

Happy to be back…Michigan still on lockdown.


Dom Thomson on New Vocabulary Unlocked! 一样


Sometimes you catch yourself reading a sentence fluently with no stumbles or hesitation and it feels awesome!

Plodding up the Mandarin mountain, look behind occasionally to see how far you’ve come.

36:09 Movies! 

This blog post explains the theory behind Movie Scenes and learning characters.


Dom Thomson on Make a Movie 也

I found this tricky to imagine with the fishing hook, cricket
bat and crab claw. Instead, I used the cardboard box from Se7en(component for qi – 7), the cricket bat and a miniature hockey stick.

Ivanka Trump is in the bedroom of the -e set packing a cricket
bat into the box (it helps that the friend who lived here was a
big cricket fan).

Component positioning point: the bottom of the bat is in the
bottom of the box and the handle is sticking out the top.

She doesn’t really understand cricket so, as she’s leaving the
room she ALSO packs the miniature hockey stick.


Dom Thomson on Make a Movie 太

Tricky abstract one here, let’s see if this sticks.

Tiger Woods is in the bathroom of the -ai set with Clifford the
Big Red Dog. He uses a PIPETTE to put a drop of something on
Clifford’s right paw (on my left as I look).

Clifford is perfectly attentive and compliant as Tiger prepares
the droplet, but then Clifford jumps back in pain as it touches

The droplet is TOO hot/acidic/painful.


Ramona on Make a Movie 工

A double open-end wrench!

It’s related to work, looks a bit like the component and it’s
easier to carry around by my actors. 🙂


Faraz on MAKE A MOVIE 或

The Incredible Hulk approaches Kirby (mouth). Kirby waves a
magic wand and transforms the backyard into a gameshow set.
Behind one door is Death with his Scythe, another is a new car,
and behind is a goat. The Incredible Hulk chooses one door. Kirby opens a door he hasn’t chosen to reveal the goat. Now he asks the Hulk – would he like to stick with his choice, OR choose the other unopened door?


Phill Challinor on Make a Movie 己

Janis Joplin is in my childhood home bedroom and she’s off her
face on LSD. She’s having a bad trip is convinced her ‘self’ has
left her body. She’s got an open box and she’s got Maoi’s hook in
her other hand. She’s convinced she is trying to catch her ‘self’
and scoop it into the open box.


Natalia Kovalenko on Make a Movie 样

I send Irina to the backyard of Angharad’s house to count how
many trees and sheep are there. She came back and said “ten”.
-But how many of each?
-What does it matter, they are the SAME thing.
-You are so stupid, they are not the SAME!!!

(Forgive me, Irina – the things I do to my cousin, since she
doesn’t know English and will never read this.)))


tyson on Make a Movie 士

Before Shawn can enter the military and become a soldier, he’s
got to shave and also take a TB test (which involves a slight
injection under the skin). He does both in the bathroom of my
childhood home. One’s he’s shaved and taken the test, he leaves
the bathroom ready to become a soldier. The scene ends with a
closeup on the syringe [十] above the razor [一] in the small


Charlie Weston on MAKE A MOVIE 或

Red OR blue pill?


Kris Peebles on Make a Movie 怕

For the props I chose an olive branch and white paint can.

“P” actor is in the bathroom of “a” location. He was hired to
paint the bathroom white. He begins to stir the white paint by
using a bright green olive branch. Then, trying to be economical with his materials, he also uses the green olive branch to paint the walls. After a few minutes of paining the owner of the house walks in and sees what a terrible job he’s doing. Suddenly, “P” actor becomes filled with fear and is very afraid as the owner begins to scream and yell at him for making such an ugly mess.


Faraz on Make a Movie 禾

A tree is absorbing all the nutrients from the soil. While it is
lush, all the plants around it are dead and desiccated. My actor
takes out a samurai sword and stabs the top of tree, killing it.
As soon as he does this, a crop of healthy wheat sprouts from the ground.


Faraz on Make a Movie 记

My Ji actress is speaking into a microphone, broadcasting the
news that a giant snake is terrorizing the area. Just then, the
giant snake starts to come up behind her. She wants to flee, but
tells herself that she is a reporter, and must Remember her
training – never leave the site of a good story!


Natalia Kovalenko on Make a Movie 行

My Xi actress is at my Eng location, drinking tea in the kitchen
and watching Bruce Lee practice his stuff. Every now and then,
she takes a moment from tea drinking and asks him – “but can you do this kick?” or “can you do that kick?” “CAN DO!” he answers every time.
Finally, she holds up a rusty nail and asks “can you slash this
nail with a razor in mid-air?”
“CAN DO!” he replies breezily and does.


Kate Gans on Make a Movie 多

My fictional du character is Durga, the Hindu warrior goddess.
She is always pictured riding a tiger.
My O-set is the Obama White House on the front lawn.
My prop is two eye masks.
The scene: Durga has arrived at the Obama White House after a long day of battle. She and her tiger are very tired and need
MANY hours of sleep to face the next day’s battles. She sets up
their tents on the front lawn and pulls out two eye masks – one
for her and one for her tiger. This will help them get the MANY
hours of sleep they need.