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Using "zai" with verbs

If you want to describe the place where you are doing, or have done something, you can use 在 (zài).

Structure

To indicate the location that a verb takes place in, 在 (zài) is used.

Subj. + 在 + Location + Verb + Obj.

Notice that the location is placed before the verb in Chinese, whereas, in English, it appears afterwards. Also, you often need a "里 (lǐ)" with "在 (zài)" after a thing to indicate the location.

Examples

  • 上海 上大学。zài Shànghǎi shàng dàxué. I went to college in Shanghai.
  • 你 一直 这 家 公司 工作 吗?Nǐ yīzhí zài zhè jiā gōngsī gōngzuò ma? Have you always been working in this company?
  • 我 周末 想 睡觉。Wǒ zhōumò xiǎng zài jiā shuìjiào. During the weekend, I want to sleep at home.
  • 不 要 床 上 吃 东西。need a "上" with "在" to indicate the location " on the bed". Bù yào zài chuáng shàng chī dōngxī. Don't eat food on the bed.
  • 你 想 哪儿 开 生日 派对?Nǐ xiǎng zài nǎr kāi shēngrì pàiduì? Where do you want have the birthday party?
  • 他 喜欢 厕所 里 抽烟。need a "里" with "在" to indicate the location " in the bathroom". Tā xǐhuan zài cèsuǒ lǐ chōu yān. He likes to smoke in the bathroom.
  • 很 多 人 地铁 上 吃 早饭。need a "上" with "在" to indicate the location " in the subway". Hěn duō rén zài dìtiě shàng chī bāozi. Many people eat breakfast on the subway.
  • 现在 我们 KTV 唱歌。Xiànzài wǒmen zài KTV chàng gē. Now we're at KTV singing songs.
  • 老板 会议室 见 客户。Lǎobǎn zài huìyìshì jiàn kèhù. The boss is seeing the client in the meeting room.
  • 外面 吃 过 晚饭 了 吗?zài wàimiàn chī guò wǎnfàn le ma? Did you eat dinner outside?

Notice that in English we usually put the location at the end of a sentence. This is different in Chinese, as we put the location after the subject, but before the verb.

See also

Sources and further reading

Books