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Preposition

Also known as: 介词 (jiècí).

Prepositions are words that indicate location or direction. They are called "pre"-positions because they are positioned before the words that they modify.

Characteristics

Prepositions cannot stand in a sentence all by themselves. Instead, they need to go with words with more "content" such as nouns or verbs. This way they can make a prepositional phrase. They also cannot be reduplicated, unlike verbs and adjectives. Additionally, prepositions do not use aspect particles. They can, however, be negated by 不. This also means that they can make affirmative-negative questions.

Functions

Prepositions do a lot of work that we sometimes take for granted. They help indicate the environment (when and where), direction (to, from, at), reason, manner, and other functions that make the sentences cohesive. There are also a few prepositions that commonly go with the same kinds of verbs (从 with places, for example).

Notes

As mentioned above, some prepositions collocate (go together) with certain verbs. These include:

  • 在, 从 with locations
  • 从 can also go with time
  • 离 goes with distances
  • 对 indicates targets
  • 给 also indicates targets, but can indicate an action for someone
  • 被 works with passive constructions
  • Some prepositions are also verbs, and others are exclusively prepositions [1].

Grammar Patterns for Prepositions

A2 Prepositions

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Basic comparisons with "bi" Noun 1 + 比 + Noun 2 + Adj. 我 胖 。
Expressing "from… to…" with "cong… dao…" 从⋯⋯到⋯⋯ 1 号 5 号 我 在 上海。

B1 Prepositions

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Expressing "about" with "guanyu" 关于 + Obj. ,⋯⋯ 关于 中国 历史 ,我 知道 的 不 多 。
Expressing "all the way until" with "zhidao" 直到 + Time / Event ,Subj. + 才 ⋯⋯ 直到 十二 点 半 ,我 才 做 完 作业 。
Expressing "for" with "gei" Subj. + 给 + Recipient + Verb Phrase 妈妈 在 孩子 们 做饭 。
Expressing "for" with "wei" 为 + Person + Predicate 人民 服务 !
Expressing "less than" with "budao" 不到 + Number + Measure Word + Noun 我 女儿 不到 三 岁 。
Expressing "toward" with "wang" 往 + Direction Word 往 + Direction / Place + Verb
Expressing "towards" with "xiang" 向 + Direction / Person + Verb 你 必须 他 道歉!
Idiomatic phrases with "zai" 在 + Topic + 上 ,Subj. ⋯⋯ 美国 历史 ,最重要 的 总统 是 谁 ?
Using "dui" with verbs Subj. + 对 + Person + Verb 宝宝 我 笑 了。

B2 Prepositions

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Expressing "along with…" with "suizhe" 随着 A + 的 + Verb, Subj. + Predicate 随着 经济 的 发展,人们 的 生活 越 来 越 好。
Expressing "ever since" with "zicong" (自)从⋯⋯ 自从 来 了 上海 , 他 就 习惯 了 繁忙 的 生活 。
Expressing "for…" with "eryan" 对 + Party + 而言 ,⋯⋯ 消费者 而言 ,促销 活动 很 有 吸引力 。
Expressing "including" with "zainei" (包括)⋯⋯ 在内 ,⋯⋯ 水 电 费 在内 ,我 每 个 月 的 房租 三千 五 。
Expressing "on the basis of" with "ping" 凭⋯⋯ 自己 的 努力 成功 。
Expressing "with regards to" with "zhiyu" 至于 你 先 看 产品 。 至于 价格 , 我们 再 商量 。
Expressing passive voice with "gei" 受事主语 + 给 + 施事者 + Verb Phrase;受事主语 + 被 + 施事者 + 给 + Verb Phrase 事情 解决 了 吗?
Limiting scope with "jiu" 就⋯⋯ (来说 / 而言) 而言 , 兴趣 最 重要 。
Opportune timing with "chen" 趁⋯⋯ 老板 不 在,我们 出去 吃饭 吧。

C1 Prepositions

Grammar Point (English) Pattern Examples
Expressing "in light of" with "jianyu" 鉴于 + observation, conclusion/suggestion 鉴于 是 紧急 情况,我们 应该 尽快 做出 决定。


References

  1. "外国人实用汉语语法(中英文对照)," p. 123

Sources