Chinese Grammar: Useful Tips

Learn when and how to use possessive words.

有 (yǒu) is used when explicitly saying that someone “has” something. For example:

我有一束可爱的椰子。(wǒ yǒu yī shù kě ài de yē zi.) — I have a lovely bunch of coconuts.

的 is used to passively mention something in one’s possession, be it a concept or actual object. Here are some examples:

我最好的朋友真棒。(wǒ zuì hǎo de péng yǒu zhēn bàng.) — My best friend is awesome.

你见过她的猫吗?(nǐ jiàn guò tā de māo ma?) — Have you seen her cat?

Not too hard, right? It helps to remember that 的 is a sort of “phrase linker.” When having a casual conversation, you can also omit 的 all together, as it’s implied by the context of the sentence. For example:

你见过她猫吗?(nǐ jiàn guò tā māo ma?) — Have you seen her cat?

There are many ways to practice possessive words, but it all comes down to practicing different sentences with possessive connotations.


Discover that adverbs aren’t as difficult as you’d think.

Good ol’ adverbs. An adverb is a word that modifies an adjective, verb or additional adverb in a phrase. Like we mentioned before, sentence structure in Mandarin can get a bit tricky when adverbs are thrown into the mix, but it doesn’t have to be so tough.

A good rule of thumb is to know that adverbs in Mandarin always go before adjectives. Here are some examples:

她刚 跑。(tā gāng pǎo.) — She just ran.

我没有时间。(wǒ méi yǒu shí jiān.) — I do not have time.

警察生气地 看 着我们。(jǐng chá shēng qì de kàn zhe wǒ men.) — The policeman watched us angrily.

This is probably the easiest tip to remember on our list. Adverb before verb, adjective or second adverb. Keep that in mind and you’re good to go with adverbs!


Figure out when to use conjunctions and punctuations.

Chinese punctuation differs pretty significantly from English. Here are few punctuation marks to remember when typing full sentences in Chinese:

To remember these punctuation marks in the future, write them down in a notebook or a note file on your phone. That way you can easily gain access to these super simple punctuation marks.

Punctuation may be simple in Mandarin, but conjunctions can get a bit trickier.

A conjunction is a word used to connect other words and phrases in a sentence. Conjunctions can appear in pretty much any part of a sentence, but you can expect them to show up after a comma is used, like with English conjugations.

Sometimes, though, a sentence conjunction may follow a Comma+Subject+Conjunction pattern.