Chinese Particles: bǎ

Chinese grammar is usually considered to be pretty easy. For example, sentences normally follow a subject-verb-object pattern, the same as English (which, as a native English speaker, does make it seem pretty easy.) Unfortunately it’s not all quite as simple as it seems because the SVO sentence structure changes when the object is being moved. If you are moving an object then it usually becomes subject-object-verb.


Confused? You won’t be after reading this:


The particle (把) is used to indicate the object is being moved (or acted upon) so when talking about moving something you have a sentence structure that is subject--object-verb. It is commonly used with the verbs such as fàng (put) and rēng (throw) so you often get this kind of sentence:


(person) (object) fàng zài (place) lǐ 

(person) put (object) in (place)

wǒ bǎ (object) rēng zài (place) shàng

I throw (object) onto (place) / I threw (object) onto (place)


Because the particle doesn’t exist in English it can be a little confusing. You also need to get your head around Chinese prepositions. For Chinese prepositions you often have to sandwich the place between two words. As seen in the examples above:


zài (place)= in (place)

zài (place) shàng = on (place)


If you find it difficult getting to grips with you can try thinking of as being like the word “got” or “got hold of”

wǒ bǎ (object) fàng zài (place)shàng

I got the object and put it on (place)

tā bǎ (object) rēng zài  (place) shàng

He got hold of the object and threw it onto (place)


One way to make this sentence structure really sink in it to just pick up a book and put it on a table whilst saying:



wǒ bǎ shū fàng zài zhuō zi shàng

I get the book and put it on the table.


Learning a new language is really that simple. Just drill it. Review a few vocabulary items such as chair (yǐ zi)  and computer (diàn nǎo)  and then say wǒ bǎ shū fàng zài yǐ zi shàng (I put the book on the chair) as you put it on the chair, or wǒ bǎ shū rēng zài diàn nǎo shàng as you throw it onto the computer. After ten minutes you should have this sentence pattern nailed, even if you do smash your TV by throwing books at it in the process.