Location complement

Also known as: 处所补语 (chǔsuǒ bǔyǔ), locational complements and complements of location.

Location complements follow verbs to indicate the location that the action of the verb leads to. Not all verbs can take location complements; for most verbs, location comes before the verb in the standard word order. Many students of Chinese find it useful to treat these verbs as special exceptions.

Note also that in some views, the term "location complement" is not used at all, and replaced with the idea of co-verbs.

When to use Location Complements

Only certain verbs that are closely tied to the idea of a location can take location complements. For example, 走 (walk) and 停 (park) imply some sort of directional motion. Other verbs like 住 (live), 待 (stay), 坐 (sit), and 站 (stand) are also frequently tied to a specific physical location. The location complement indicates the location that the action of the verb takes place in or leads to.

Location Complements Sentences
Subject Verb Location Complement
在 中国
在 你 旁边
想 走 到 北京
汽车 在 停车场

Other verbs that don't imply motion towards something can't take location complements. Some verbs may take place in a location but do not imply motion towards that location. In that case an adverbial location phrase should be used before the verb. For more on word order of place phrases see word order. A few examples of sentences where an adverbial place phrase should be used and not a location complement:

  • 在 家 学习 。"Studying" happens at home, but is not tied there directionally.
  • 我 学习 在 家
  • 在 上海 工作 。The work is done in Shanghai, but it isn't directional.
  • 你 工作 在 上海
  • 他们 在 篮球场 上 打羽毛球 。You play at the basketball court, but there isn't a directional feel to the verb.
  • 他们 打羽毛球 在 篮球场 上

References and Further Reading