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Chinese Grammar: Lesson Part 2: Using 在 to talk about location

You’ve seen how was useful to talk about where you or an object was, and where a verb was taking place. There’s a lot more you can express with , and that is what we’re going to see now.

Expressing where something is in relation to another object

Imagine you want to say something is on the table or is under a chair, you know is an excellent candidate to express that, but how do you specify where exactly is the object? You need to add a little location word to go with it!

You start by indicating where the object is, in general, and then you explain where it is exactly. In English, we say "on the table", in Chinese, the order is " table, on".

Structure

Subject + + Location + location word ( ; ; ; 旁边...)

Examples

Inside with
The Chinese often like to use with “(lǐ, inside)”, to express where something is.

香蕉 书包
The banana is in the bookbag.

这里 抽烟
Don’t smoke (in) here.

On with

苹果 桌子
The apple is on the desk.

火车
You're in the train. (literally, "on" the train)

Under with

报纸 怎么 桌子
Why is my newspaper under the table?

When follows the verbs

is usually used directly after a subject to locate something, but on some rare occasions, it follows the verb. When is paired with specific verbs, such as:

  • (zuò - to sit),
  • (zhù - to live),
  • (zhàn - to stand),
  • or (fàng - to place),
    is then exceptionally placed directly after the verb.

These verbs are all related to position, placement or movement so in these cases is used to further explain where these verbs are taking place. To live in; to stand on; to place on; to siton...

Structure

Subject + Particular verb + + Location

Examples

椅子
He’s sitting on a chair.

四川
I live in Sichuan.

老师 门口
The teacher is standing at the door.

桌子
The book is on the table.

These are the main verbs which cause to follow the verb. There are other verbs that nearly always follow this same exceptional rule, as you'll realize when you come across them.

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