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

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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

Structure

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

Examples

  • 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

Structure

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

or

Thing + 是 + 给 + Person + Verb + 的

Examples

  • 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

Books