As one of the most spoken languages globally, you probably understand why learning Mandarin is essential. However, Mandarin is a unique language compared to English. There are specific Mandarin grammar rules that you should consider. As a beginner, these features might seem confusing since there are a lot of rules you probably have never heard. This article offers insight into easy-to-follow Mandarin grammar rules to help you understand the language.
Basic Mandarin Grammar Rules You Should Know About
If you’ve studied Romance languages like French or Spanish, you might find Mandarin to be notoriously pesky with its grammar rules. However, most of these standard grammar rules are absent from Mandarin. Some of the rules that you might find easy to follow are as follows:
Straightforward Subject-verb-object Word Order
Mandarin shares a similar sentence structure of subject-verb subject-verb-order with English. Here is an example that better explains this structure:
Wǒ chī. Translates to I eat in English.
In this example, the subject Wo is “I” in English, and the verb chi refers to “eat” in English.
Ideally, the subject-verb-object is laid out in the Mandarin sentence structure. However, the pattern expands as you move to more prolonged and complex sentences.
The Question or Exclamation Particles
The question or exclamation particle is one of the most exciting Mandarin grammar rules. Rather than using the typical English question mark(?), Mandarin requires speakers to use simple words. This seems odd, significantly, when a simple word can change the tone and purpose of an entire sentence. Here are a few examples of how Mandarin exclamation particles work:
- A clause like (ma) indicates that you expect a yes/no answer to your question.
- A clause like (ba) indicates that you’re making a suggestion
- A clause like (ne) suggests that you’re changing the emphasis on a particular topic
Please note, all these particles are light-sounding, meaning that they don’t possess any tone. Therefore, these clauses might be used in interrogative, declarative, or exclamatory sentences, depending on the strength of the expression.
Adjectives Remain Before Nouns
Similar to English, Mandarin adjectives are usually placed before nouns. Below is an example :
tāmen chī bái fàn is a Chinese word meaning “they eat (white) rice.”
In this sentence, “white” is the adjective that precedes rice. The same rule applies when writing in Mandarin.
Words Remain the Same in Every Sentence Type
English and other European languages change to ensure that the verbs and adjectives agree. However, according to Mandarin grammar rules, you don’t have to conjugate a word to fit an adjective or a verb. Here is an example that illustrates this rule much better:
Wǒ qù gōngzuò, means I go to work
Tāmen qù gōngzuò suggests they go to work
The word “qu” doesn’t change in both sentences in these two examples. If you wrote these sentences in English, they would probably have a more varied form than conjugate with the sentence.
Mandarin is Topic-prominent
Ideally, Mandarin puts the doer of an action before the action. For instance, a typical English sentence like I don’t like red wine is directly translated to “Red wine, I don’t like” (Hóngjiǔ wǒ bù tài xǐhuan). Pretty exciting, right! Well, this is a rule that most Mandarin learners find hard to get used to, but you should be if you want to learn Mandarin online.
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