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Alternative existential sentences

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Expressing something's existence in a certain place or location is not just limited to 在 (zài) and 有 (yǒu). The word order may be a little different from what you are used to, but 着 (zhe) and 是 (shì) are also ways to make everyday statements such as, "There is a book lying on the desk."

Pattern with 着

Verbs that are paired with 着 are usually stative verbs, strong action verbs are not used in this case.


Place + Verb + 着 + [Noun Phrase]


  • 桌子 上 放 一 本 书 。Zhuōzi shàng fàng zhe yī běn shū .There is a book on the desk.
  • 大厅 里 站 一些 警察 。Dàtīng lǐ zhàn zhe yīxiē jǐngchá.There are several policemen standing in the hall.
  • 教室 里 坐 两 百 多 个 学生 。Jiàoshì lǐ zuò zhe liǎng bǎi duō gè xuéshēng.There are more than two hundred students sitting in the classroom.
  • 地下室 里 堆 很 多 旧 东西 。Dìxiàshì lǐ duī zhe hěn duō jiù dōngxi.The basement is piled with lots of old stuff.
  • 楼下 停 几 辆 车 。Lóuxià tíng zhe jǐ liàng chē.A few cars are parked downstairs.

Pattern with 是

The subject in the 是 sentence pattern indicates the location or area. The object behind 是 is the only thing in this area.


Place + 是 + [Noun Phrase]


  • 洗衣机 里 一些 脏 衣服 。There is nothing in the washing machine other than the dirty clothes.Xǐyījī lǐ shì yīxiē zāng yīfu.There are dirty clothes inside the washing machine.
  • 袋子 里 我 的 午饭 。The only thing in the bag is my lunch.Dàizi lǐ shì wǒ de wǔfàn.My lunch is in the bag.
  • 墙 上 都 他 家人 的 照片 。His family's photos are all over the wall, and nothing else is on he wall.Qiáng shàng dōu shì tā jiārén de zhàopiàn.His family's photos are hanging on the wall.
  • 盒子 里 你 的 礼物 。Other than your gift, there is nothing else in the box.Hézi lǐ shì nǐ de lǐwù.Your gift is in the box.
  • 桌子 上 昨天 没 吃完 的 菜 。The food that was left over from yesterday is the only thing on the table.Zhuōzi shàng shì zuótiān méi chī wán de cài.The food that was left over from yesterday is on the table.

Note that 是 is used to describe a singular object existing somewhere, while 有 can refer to multiple objects/people.

See also

Sources and Further Reading