The bǎ Sentence Construction

The bǎ Sentence Construction

In lesson 26 we learned about an unusual grammatical particle bǎ (把).

Let’s step back and look at the basic Chinese sentence structure.

  • subject-verb-object

This sentence structure is easy for us English speakers because English follows the same pattern. Unlike German and Japanese which is …

  • subject-object-verb

Well, the bad news is that Chinese can go both ways. Chinese speakers can use the bǎ (把) particle to invert the basic sentence structure to subject-object-verb

“Why”, You might ask, “would they want to do that?” The primary reason is that Chinese does not permit verb modifiers to follow an object. This means, for example, a sentence like “Throw the ball to the catcher” is not allowed in mandarin. Because “to the catcher”, follows the object (ball).

For a clear, written description, you can checkout the Chinese Grammar Wiki

For a video discription, Learn Chinese Now does a pretty good job of explaining how this works. Below are the examples used in the video

PinyinChineseEnglish
Wǒ bǎ zhè běn shū gěi nǐ我把这本书给你I will give you this book.
Bǎ mén guānshàng把门关上Close the door
Bǎ bèizi fàng zài zhuōzi shàng把被子放在桌子上Put the quilt on the table
Bù bǎ bèizi fàng zài zhuōzi shàng不把被子放在桌子上Don’t put the quilt on the table
Méiyǒu bǎ bèizi fàng zài zhuōzi shàng没有把被子放在桌子上Did not put the quilt on the table
Bǎ zhè jù huà fānyì chéng zhōngwén把这句话翻译成中文Translate this sentence into Chinese

Twin Cities Chinese Tutor Also does a good job of explaining how this works. Below are the examples used in the video

PinyinChineseEnglish
Tā chīle wǒ de bīngjīlíng她吃了我的冰激凌She ate my ice cream
Tā bǎ wǒ de bīngjīlíng chīle她把我的冰激凌吃了She ate my ice cream
Tā bǎ shū fàng zài wǒ de zhuōzi shàng她把书放在我的桌子上She put the book on my desk
Wǒ bǎ shū kàn wánliǎo我把书看完了I finished reading the book.
Wǒ bǎ shū hái gěi tāle我把书还给她了I returned the book to her.
Wǒ bǎ huā sòng sòng gěi tā我把花送送给她I sent the flowers to her.
tā bǎ yī fēng xìn jì gěile wǒ她把一封信寄给了我She sent a letter to me.