Expressing "with" with "gen"
Using 跟 (gēn) to express "with" is so simple and helpful, after studying it briefly, it will always be with you! 跟 (gēn) is a very common word that will help complete many other sentence structures.
The preposition 跟 (gēn) is commonly used to express "with." Just remember that the "with" phrase comes before the verb.
Subj. + 跟 + Person + Verb + Obj.
The word 一起 (yīqǐ) is used a lot with 跟 (gēn), expressing the idea of "doing something together with somebody." It may seem kind of redundant, but it's totally normal in Chinese to use both.
Also, for most of the examples below, 跟 (gēn) is interchangeable with 和 (hé), which you may remember, also means "and," just like 跟 (gēn) does.
Subj. + 跟 + Person + 一起 + Verb + Obj.
Certain Chinese verbs use 跟 (gēn) a lot, so be on the lookout for them (examples below)!
- 我 昨天 跟 朋友 去 海滩 了。I went to the beach with friends yesterday.
- 不要 跟 我 说话！Don't talk to me!
- 我 明天 要 跟 新 客户 见面。I'm going to meet new clients tomorrow.
- 你 什么 时候 跟 你 女朋友 结婚？When are you gonna marry your girlfriend?
- 你 喜欢 跟 你 父母 聊天 吗？ Do you like to talk with your parents?
- 你 想 跟我 一起 去 吗？ Do you want to go with me?
- 请 你们 跟 老师 一起 读。Please read together with the teacher.
- 下 周 谁 跟老板 一起 出差？Who is going on a business trip together with the boss next week?
- 结婚 以后，你 想 跟 父母 一起 住 吗？Do you want live together with your parents after you get married?
- 今年 中秋节 你 会 跟 家人 一起 过 吗？ Are you going to spend this Mid-Autumn Festival with your family?
Note: One of the most common beginner mistakes is to fail to use 跟 (gēn) with 见面 (jiànmiàn), "to meet." It might help to think of 见面 (jiànmiàn) as "to meet with (somebody)," the "with" cluing you into the fact that you need a 跟 (gēn) in there. The verbs 结婚 (jiéhūn), "to marry," and 聊天 (liáotiān), "to chat" are used with 跟 (gēn) in the exact same way.
Check out the examples below:
- 我 要 见面 你。
- 我 要 跟 你 见面。I want to meet with you.
- 我 昨天 见面 他 了。
- 我 昨天 跟 他 见面 了。I met with him yesterday.
- 你 什么时候 见面 她 ？
- 你 什么时候 跟 她 见面 ？When are you going to meet with her?
- 明天 我 要 见面 我 男朋友 的 家人。
- 明天 我 要 跟 我 男朋友 的 家人 见面。Tomorrow I am going to meet my boyfriend's family.
- 你 有没有 见面 过 Obama?
- 你 有没有 跟 Obama 见 过 面？Have you ever met Obama?
Later on you'll learn more about why this is the case, but for now just memorize the correct pattern.
Where 和 (hé) and 跟 (gēn) Differ
We mentioned earlier that 跟 (gēn) is essentially interchangeable with 和 (hé). There's at least one common usage where this is not the case, though:
- 和 我 读 。
- 跟 我 读 。Read after me.
The reason is that although 跟 (gēn) and 和 (hé) can both mean "and" or "with," the word 跟 (gēn) also has a sense of "to follow" embedded in it. There's a before/after aspect.
The following sentences are both correct, because they're simultaneous rather than before/after:
- 和 我 一起 读。
- 跟 我 一起 读。Read with me.
Because of this slight difference between 跟 (gēn) and 和 (hé), it's recommended to start out using 跟 (gēn) to mean "with."
Sources and further reading
- Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide ]] (pp. 84-88) [ →buy] Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide | ]]84-88␞Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide ␞Expressing "with" with "gen"| ]]
- Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 1 ]] (pp. 166-167) [ →buy] Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 1 | ]]166-167␞Integrated Chinese: Level 1, Part 1 ␞Expressing "with" with "gen"| ]]