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The Different Chinese Prepositions and How to Use Them

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Prepositions are words that indicate the relationship between words, usually nouns, in a sentence and tell us where and when something is happening. There are 4 main types of prepositions: direction, time, location and space.

Below are the different types of Chinese prepositions and how to use them in a sentence.

Chinese Prepositions for Time, Direction and Place

Preposition Pinyin Meaning
cóng from
from / since
自从 zì cóng since
from / in
since / from
dào to
wǎng to / towards
zài at
dāng at
cháo towards
xiàng towards
顺着 shùn zhe to follow
沿着 yán zhe to follow
随着 suí zhe following
duì towards

周一到周五 (cóng zhōu dào zhōu wǔ) From Monday to Friday

健身房跑步 (zài jiàn shēn fáng pǎo bù) Running in the gym

Chinese Prepositions for Method and Grounds

Preposition Pinyin Meaning
àn according to
zhào according to
按照 àn zhào according to
according to
依照 yī zhào according to
本着 běn zhe according to / based on
经过 jīng guò through
通过 tōng guò through
根据 gēn jù according to
according to
píng on the basis of

我看 (yī wǒ kàn) In my opinion

根据新的标准 (gēn jù xīn de biāo zhǔn) According to the new standards

Chinese Prepositions for Aims

Preposition Pinyin Meaning
wèi for
为了 wèi le for; in order to
为着 wèi zhe for; in order to

为了追逐梦想,他选择了出国。(wèi le zhuī zhú mèng xiǎng, xuǎn zé le chū guó) In order to pursue his dreams, he chose to go abroad.

Chinese Prepositions for Reasons

Preposition Pinyin Meaning
yīn because
由于 yóu yú due to
因为 yīn wèi because
只有 zhǐ yǒu only

因为下雨,我们一整天都待在了家里。(yīn wèi xià yǔ, wǒ men zhěng tiān dōu zài le jiā lǐ) Because of the rain, we stayed at home for a whole day.

Chinese Prepositions for Objects and Range

Preposition Pinyin Meaning
duì to
对于 duì yú regarding
passive particle
xiàng towards
gēn with
with / to
tóng with
gěi for, to
关于 guān yú regarding

钱包丢了。(qián bāo diū le) He lost his wallet.

Chinese Prepositions for Exclusion

Preposition Pinyin Meaning
chú except; besides
除了 chú le except; besides
除去 chú qù except for
除非 chú fēi except

除了他,大家都回家了。(chú le tā, jiā dōu huí jiā le) Apart from him, everyone has gone home.

Chinese Prepositions for Passivity

Preposition Pinyin Meaning
bèi by
jiào by
ràng by
gěi by

人揍了一顿。(ràng rén zòu le dùn) Someone beat him up.

Chinese Prepositions for Comparing

Preposition Pinyin Meaning
than
with
with
tóng with

这个苹果那个大。(zhè ge píng guǒ bǐ nèi gè dà) This apple is bigger than that one.

Comparing Some Common Chinese Prepositions

对(于) \ 关于 \ 至于 About

对(于) (duì (yú)) is used to describe the object of an action or relevant people or things

他一无所知。(wǒ duì tā yī suǒ zhī) I don’t know anything about him.

对于这个问题,我们还要在讨论一下。(duì zhè ge wèn men hái yào zài tǎo lùn xià) We need to discuss this problem further.

关于 (guān yú) is used to describe the range of action. Sometimes it can be an alternative to 对(于).

关于(对于)你们的意见,我们会认真考虑。(guān yú (duì yú) men de jiàn, men huì rèn zhēn kǎo lǜ) We will think carefully about your advice.

Since 对(于) focuses on the object, and 关于 focuses on the range, in the following sentence, 关于 cannot be an alternative to 对于.

关于这个小岛,还有一段鲜为人知的的传说。(guān yú zhè ge xiǎo dǎo, hái yǒu duàn xiǎn wéi rénzhī de chuán shuō) There is an obscure legend about the island.

至于 (zhì yú), 关于 (guān yú) and 对于 (duì yú) can all be used to lead into a topic. The difference is that 至于 (zhì yú) leads to another topic when one already exists.

这部电影将于下半年上线,至于具体时间,还没有公布。(zhè bù diàn yǐng jiāng xià bàn nián shàng xiàn, zhì shí jiān, hái méi yǒu gōng bù) The movie will be online in the 2nd half of the year, but the exact time has yet to be announced.

对 \ 朝 \ 向 \ 往 To

Sometimes, (duì) \ (cháo) \ (xiàng) can be used alternately, to mean the object of the action.

对(朝 \ 向)我笑了笑。(tā duì (cháo/xiàng) xiào le xiào) She grinned at me.

(cháo) \ (xiàng) \ (wǎng) can be used to describe the direction of the actions, but (duì) can not.

朝(向 \ 往)学校的方向跑了去。(cháo (xiàng / wǎng) xué xiào de fāng xiàng pǎo le qù) She ran in the direction of the school.

(xiàng) \ 往 (wǎng) can be used after a verb to make up a preposition phrase, but 朝 (cháo) can not.

深圳 (kāi wǎng shēn zhèn) Heading for Shenzhen

梦想 (bēn xiàng mèng xiǎng) Run towards a dream

朝 (cháo) \ 向 (xiàng) is not only used to describe the direction of the action, but also the object of the action. They can work with a noun, including people and places. However, 往 (wǎng) is only for the direction of the action, so in the following two examples, we can not use 往 (wǎng).

我挥了挥手。(cháo huī le huī shǒu) He waved to me.

我简单介绍了这个国家的历史。(xiàng wǒ jiǎn dān jiè shào le zhè ge guó jiā de shǐ) He simply briefed me the history of the country.

Different from the 对 (duì) in the above section, here 对 (duì) means “to” so it can not be changed to 对于 (duì yú) .

你还有什么话要我说吗?(hái yǒu shén me huà yào duì shuō ma?) Is there anything else you want to say to me?

按 \ 按照 \ 根据 \ 据 According to

(àn) \ 按照 (àn zhào) work as prepositions, which means to follow a standard, for example:

时完成 (àn shí wán chéng)  Finish on time

按照计划行事 (àn zhào jìhuà xíng shì) According to the plan

(jù) means ‘according to some basis’, whereas 根据 (gēn jù) means ‘to take something or actions as preconditioned or a foundation’.

理力争 ( zhēng) Make one’s utmost efforts to fight for one’s point of view

根据他的报告,我们对销售计划进行了一些调整。(gēn tā de bào gào, men duì xiāo shòu jì huà jìn xíng le yī xiē tiáo zhěng) According to his reports, we need to make some adjustments to the marketing plan.

Words That Can Be Both a Verb and Preposition

Preposition Pinyin Meaning (preposition) Meaning (verb)
zài in exist / be living / stay / remain
wèi for / by / to do / act
than; to compare
dào to arrive / reach
gěi to give
cháo towards face / look
经过 jīng guò through pass by
通过 tōng guò through pass through

Verb: 学校。(tā zài xué xiào) He is in the school.

Preposition: 墙上画画。(zài qiáng shàng huà huà) He is drawing on the wall.

Verb: 这趟火车经过武汉。(zhè tàng huǒ chē jīng guò hàn) This train passes Wuhan.

Preposition: 经过一番认真的考虑,他决定辞职。(jīng guò yī fān rèn zhēn de kǎo lǜ, jué dìng zhí) After careful consideration, he decided to quit.

Exercises

Download The Different Chinese Prepositions and How to Use Them PDF

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