Also known as: 名词 (míngcí).

You may have learned these as "person, place, or thing." Nouns often act as subjects, are modified by adjectives, and can be counted with measure words in Chinese.



Nouns have four main characteristics:

  1. The majority of the time, they are modified by a measure word.
  2. They can act as a subject, an object, or a complement, but never as a result. It can occasionally be an adverbial, but not often.
  3. They may not be modified by the negative adverb "不".
  4. They may not be reduplicated (unless it's for a cutesy effect, usually with small kids).

Further Explanation

Measure Words

Every noun in Chinese has a measure word that it can use, as well as the general "个." When quantifying nouns, they must have a measure word. If you are just being general, it isn't required.



In a sentence, Chinese nouns take the same roles that nouns in English do. They are often subjects and objects of verbs, but they can occasionally be complements or adverbials. As stated above, nouns are never results.


Nouns aren't negated by "不" because "不" is used to negate verbs. You can't say "not dog." It just doesn't make sense. The same goes in Chinese.



Unlike verbs and adjectives, nouns aren't reduplicated in Chinese. While with adjectives and verbs reduplication can change the meaning, with nouns it just makes you sound silly.



See Also

Grammar Patterns for Nouns

A2 Nouns

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
After a specific time with "yihou" Time / Verb + 以后 10点 以后 ,我 不 在 家。
Before a specific time with "yiqian" Time / Verb + 以前 十 点 以前,我 在 家。
Expressing "before" in general with "yiqian" 以前,⋯⋯ 以前,我 不 会 说 中文。
Expressing "just now" with "gangcai" 刚才 + Verb 刚才 什么 了?
Expressing "when" with "de shihou" ⋯⋯的时候 你 不在 的 时候,我 会 想 你。
In the future in general with "yihou" 以后,⋯⋯ 以后,你 不要 问 我。
Time words and word order Subj. + Time⋯⋯ / Time + Subj.⋯⋯ 明天 有 空。/ 明天 我 有 空。

B1 Nouns

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Expressing "before" and "after" with "zhiqian" and "zhihou" Event + 之前 / 之后 ,⋯⋯ 出国 之前 ,他 和 女朋友 分手了 。
Expressing "ever since" with "yilai" Time / Event + 以来 ,⋯⋯ 今年 八月 以来 ,这里 一直 没 下 过 雨 。
Expressing "when" with "shi" Time + 时 考试 不要 说话 。
Sequencing past events with "houlai" ⋯⋯ ,后来 ⋯⋯ 开始 他 不 同意, 但 后来 同意了。

B2 Nouns

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Expressing "among" with "dangzhong" 当中 他们 当中 有 温州 人 , 有 宁波 人 。
Expressing "each other" with "bici" 彼此 + Verb 太 吵 了,我们 都 听不到 对方 在 说 什么。
Expressing "when" using "dang" 当……的时候,…… 我 见到 他 的 时候 ,我 完全 忘 了 要 问 他 什么 。
Expressing "within (it/them)" with "qizhong" 其中 有 五 个 人 报名 了 , 其中 两 个 是 女生 。
Name-calling with "zhege" Noun + 这个 + Category 这个 坏蛋,就 没 做 过 一 件 好 事。

C1 Nouns

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Expressing "your side" with "ben" 本 + Noun 公司 的 商业 模式。
Indicating a characteristic with "xing" Word + 性 发生 地震 的 可能 较 大。

Sources and further reading