Chinese Grammar: Lesson: Using 凭 to say “on the basis of”
Don’t ever look down upon a tiny word in Chinese, it may be small but have lots of useful uses to know! Lupishu’s learning that each day, and on the basis of that, today, he’s decided to focus on the tiny 凭. 凭 in Chinese is a preposition that means “base on”, “by”, or “on the basis of” and comes in very handy to explain certain things. Today, let’s look at the various usages of 凭!
Using 凭 with a verb or a verb phrase
凭 can be used with verbs or verb phrases to express that you are doing something on the basis of something or by virtue of a certain situation. You’ll also often see it simply translated into English by “by” or “on”.
凭 + Verb/verb phrase
凭 is usually used in sentences where a subject is a person.
Using 凭 with nouns
凭 can also be used with a noun or a (noun) phrase to indicate the way or the manner of doing something. As you’ll see from the examples, these nouns can both be concrete (admission to a place, for instance) or abstract (a feeling, and such). 凭 is fairly flexible and can be used indifferently to talk about actions that happen frequently or actions that haven’t happened yet.
凭 + Noun/noun phrase
Another important use of 凭 to know is with the word 什么: you can use 凭 together with 什么 to form the expression 凭什么. This structure is extremely common in Chinese and it’s very useful to show dissatisfaction or anger.
Subject + 凭什么 + verb / verb phrase ?
As 什么 is a question word, you won’t be surprised to see that 凭什么 is a question form. You can consider it to mean “whereby”, “why”, or “on what basis do you” in English. As you can imagine, 凭什么 is often paired with blame, or a scolding, and is very frequently used when arguing! See, told you, it was important to know!
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