Mandarin Grammar – Day 24 of the LLP

Why Chinese Grammar is Simple (Day 24)

Many people say about Chinese (Mandarin) being difficult. There are a lot of difficult aspects to Mandarin, but grammar isn’t one of them. Mandarin grammar, I am finding, is logical. I might be wrong, but yesterday’s post saw me deal with asking questions. The day before saw me talk about the relative simplicity of dealing with tenses.
Today, I’m going to talk about the basic sentence structure, and how it is so similar to English that I’d overlooked the major advantage an English speaker has in learning Mandarin.

Mandarin Grammar: Word Order.

Mandarin is an S-V-O language. That’s the same as English.
What does SVO stand for?
Subject. Verb. Object.
In the simplest rendition of a sentence, we have these examples:
他 吃 鸡肉
Tā chī jīròu

He eats chicken(meat)

The sentence structure is the same in both. In other words, Tā = He, chī = eats, jīròu = chicken meat.
The subject is “He.”
The Verb is “To Eat.”
The Object is “Chicken Meat.”
As we can see, the two sentences are structured identically. Essentially, for a sentence this simple, we’ve reduced the need for grammar down to effective zero, and so biulding this sentence is a matter of vocabulary.

Mandarin Grammar: Going Further

Grammar can be an infinite rabbit hole if you let it. There’ll always be a way to find differences in dialects, let alone languages. Mandarin has differences in grammar to English. That said, it’s not unreasonable to want to go a bit deeper into a language than “He says this.” “She does that.” “Bob eats apple.” “You fall on floor.”
Luckily, we can build a lot more complete sentences with Mandarin than that. The similarities don’t end there.
Chinese uses the same object order as English. What is means, is that if there is more than one object, they will be in the same order.
“I saw John at the shops.”
In that sentence, “I” is the subject. “John” is an indirect objects. “The shops” is the direct object of the sentence.
So for this sentence, the structure is Subject + Verb + Ind. Object + Dir. Object.
This is the same in Mandarin Grammar. Indirect Object comes before Direct Object.

Just by knowing this simple fact about Mandarin Grammar, you already know how to make a collection of reasonably complex sentences. This wouldn’t necessarily be the case in languages which are more closely related to your native language.


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