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Chinese Grammar: Lesson: Direction complements II

Remember how in the previous stages we learned about direction complements, that is to say, words you attach to a verb to describe or explain the direction of the action expressed by the verb? Well, now, we’re moving on to learning to describe slightly more complex directions. Ready to learn part II of the direction complements, direction complement combos?

Complement Combo: Mixing a direction word + or

In the previous lesson, you learned about how a direction complement is either adding a direction word or the verbs or to an action verb to describe the direction of that action. Guess what? You can also attach BOTH a direction word AND or to a verb to create an even more detailed direction complement. I like to call these complements combos, and their official name is compound direction complement.

If you’re comfortable with the previous lesson’s takeaways, understanding how these combo complements work should be a breeze.

Why would you mix both a verb, a direction word and or ?

By adding a direction complement combo to the main verb, you’re indicating both the direction of the action and the speaker’s position. To pick which direction complement to use, the main thing to keep in mind is the *direction of the movement in relation to the speaker.


Subject + verb + compound direction complement Subject + Verb + Direction Word + /

Verbs that indicate moving objects, like to move, to deliver, to carry, to take, to bring, and body movements such as , to walk or , to run, frequently take compound direction complements.

Here’s a table of a few combination examples to give you a better idea of what this all means:

Verbs Direction verbs Complements Meaning
to take out
to go in
to stand up
to run back


Take the book over to here.

可以 上去
You can stand up.

I ran back.

我们 出去
We’re going out.

He moved in.

Direction complements in a sentence

Now that you understand how regular and compound direction complement works, let’s see how a direction complement behaves in longer sentences.

Compound direction complements with an object

Compound direction complements are not solely restricted to describing people’s movements. You can also use them to describe the movements of objects.

One thing to pay attention to, however, is that the direction complement behaves differently in the sentence depending on whether the object is simple or complicated.


Subject + Verb + Direction complement + Object

Depending on the size of the Object, the direction complements will either wrap themselves around the Object or stick together close to the verb.

With simple Objects, the direction complement separates and wraps itself around the Object.

Simple Objects are nouns without number or measure words and nouns with no description; they are in particular words that are places such or 学校.


S + V + Direction + Simple Object + /

She walked in the room.

Note: See how 进来 got separated into two? It works the same way as separable verbs do. Isn’t that flexible?

With complicated Objects, the verb and direction complement stay together: it brings more clarity to the whole sentence.

Nouns with number and measure words and descriptive, detailed Objects are considered complicated Objects.


S+ V +Direction + / + Complicated Object


出来 手机.
He brought out his newly-bought smartphone.

Come into the room.

He took out a book.

She took off a painting from the wall.

妈妈送去 一些
I sent (over to) my mom some flowers.

Direction complements, negations and questions

When negating a sentence with a direction complement, the negation must be placed before the main verb and the direction complement


S + or 没有 + V + Direction Complement


成绩 出来
The grades haven’t come out yet?

You can form questions about direction complements just like you would any other question.

Direction complements and

Simple direction complements with

When it comes to simple direction complements:

  • If the sentence has no object or the object is a place: you can put the completed action either after the main verb or at the end of the sentence. At the end of the sentence, it can also be a change of state .

I came back. (I’ve returned).

  • If the sentence has an object, place right after the Direction complement

拿来 机票
He brought two plane tickets

Compound direction complements

Regarding compound direction complements, it’s nearly the same:

  • If the sentence has no object, or if the object is a place, inserted in the complement, place at the end of the sentence.

He walked in.

A cat ran into the classroom.

  • If the sentence is about a generic, indefinite object, a isn’t usually required.

He took out 10 dollars.

  • If the sentence is about a specific, definite object, it's also usually a sentence. will follow the rules for sentences and will be placed at the end of the sentence.

酸奶 冰箱 出来
He took the yogurt out of the fridge.

Time to involve yourself

Knowing each compound direction complement and what they mean can seem like a lot to handle at first, but don’t worry, with Master Yocha here, everything is possible! My motto comes directly from a great philosopher, 孔子 Confucius:

"Tell me, and I’ll forget; show me, and I may remember, involve me, and I’ll understand.”

As long as you understand the principles, the best you can do know is go and experience directional components yourself: nothing beats living the language to know how to use it.

Let’s go practice, shall we? You’ll see how useful these directional components are!

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