The "shi... de" construction for indicating purpose

There are many ways to explain why you are doing something or what an object is used for. One of the more natural ways just happens to involve 是⋯⋯的. This is a different usage from the "classic" 是⋯⋯的 pattern.

A Person as Subject


If the subject is a person, there is often a 来 or 去 after the 是, indicating direction like "coming here" or "going there."

Person + 是 + 来 / 去 + Verb+ 的


  • shì lái wán de.I came for fun.
  • 我们 都 出差 Wǒmen dōu shì chūchāi de.We are all going on business trips.
  • 他们 都 实习 Tāmen dōu shì lái shíxí de.They all came here to do internships.
  • 你 真的 帮 我们 吗 ? Nǐ zhēnde shì lái bāng wǒmen de ma?Are you really here to help us?
  • 我们 不 做 调查 Wǒmen bù shì wán de, shì zuò diàochá de.We're not going for fun. We're going to do research.

A Thing as Subject


If the subject is a thing, 用来 is often used. Look at the examples below for some more clarification.

Thing + 是 + 用来 + Verb + 的


Thing + 是 + 给 + Person + Verb + 的


  • 这 种 菜 用来 做 汤 Zhè zhǒng cài shì yònglái zuò tāng de.This kind of vegetable is for making soup.
  • 这个 房间 客人 住 Zhège fángjiān shì gěi kèrén zhù de.This room is for our guest to stay in.
  • 这些 钱 孩子 上 大学 Zhèxiē qián shì gěi háizi shàng dàxué de.This money is for our child's college education.
  • 这些 礼物 客户 准备 Zhèxiē lǐwù shì gěi kèhù zhǔnbèi de.These presents have been prepared for the clients.
  • 用来 ,不 用来Qián shì yònglái huā de, bù shì yònglái shěng de.Money is for spending, not for saving.

See also

Sources and further reading