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.