Basic Chinese Grammar

Mandarin Chinese grammar is considered as the easiest one in the world.


One key feature of Chinese grammar is that all words have only one grammatical form. Chinese nouns do not have articles, such as "the" and "a/an" in English, nor do they have a plural form. Only one form of each verb exists, this makes memorizing "conjugation tables" unnecessary.

Basic Sentences

Word Order
In normal Chinese declarative sentences, word order is the same as that of normal English declarative sentences, namely, subject – verb – object (SVO). There are other types of word order appearing in more complicated structures.
I watch TV.
我看电视。(wǒ kàn diàn shì)

Yes/No Questions
In Chinese, the question particle 吗 (ma) is used to form a simple yes/no question.
You are Chinese.
你是中国人。 (nǐ shì zhōng guó rén)

Are you Chinese?
你是中国人吗? (nǐ shì zhōng guó rén ma?)

是。 (shì)
不是。(bú shì)

Expressing Past/Present/Future

1. Past tense
Completed actions are usually expressed by using the past particle 了(le). The particle usually appears after the verb or object.

I watched TV.
我看电视。(wǒ kàn diàn shì le)

2.Present continuous tense
The present continuous tense is used to express the action being performing right now. In Chinese, 正在 (zhèng zài) is usually used.
I am watching TV.
正在看电视。(wǒ zhèng zài kàn diàn shì)

3.Future tense
To express action in the near future, the particle , 要(yào)/就(jiù)/ is used.
I am going to watch TV.
看电视。(wǒ yào kàn diàn shì)

Chinese Grammar Guide

If you are interested in learning Chinese, please take a look at the Free Chinese Lessons that are practical and fun.

3 Responses to “Chinese Grammar”

  1. Sarah Cochrane

    This is a fantastic explanation of tense! I have been trying to learn for a year and fumbling around with the tenses in Chinese and not being able to find an easily understood (for me anyway) explanation of these tenses. I just read this and in two minutes got what I”ve been trying to find for a year! Thank you!


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