In this article, we’ll seek to illustrate the main prepositions used in the modern Chinese language.
Prepositions that indicate the beneficiary of an action carried out by someone else
给 (gěi) “for”
Tā gěi wǒ mǎi le yī běn shū.
He bought a book for me.
Bàba gěi wǒ mǎi de shū, wǒ hěn xǐhuan.
I really like the book that my father bought me.
替 (tì) “in place of”
Tā tì wǒ mǎi le yī běn shū.
He bought a book for me (in the sense that he physically went to buy the book in my place and used my money).
In an informal conversation, 替 can be substituted with 帮 (bāng).
为 (wèi) “for”
Important: used with this function, this character is read with the fourth tone.
Tā wèi wǒ mǎi le yī běn shū.
He bought a book for me.
Wǒmen wèi rénmín fúwù.
We are at the service of the people.
Final and causal prepositions
The final preposition indicates the end toward which an action or state of things is directed. The character used for this construction is 为 (wèi), which can be translated as “for” or “to the end of” (as before, this character is used in the fourth tone). 为了 (wei le) placed at the beginning of the phrase introduces a causal preposition “because of/for”.
Wǒ māma wèi wǒ xīshēng tā de yī bèizi.
My mother has sacrificed her entire life for me.
Wǒ māma wèi wǒ de jiānglái dānxīn.
My mother worries for my future.
Wèi le mǎi fángzi tā juédìng dǎ gōng.
To buy a house, he decided to do little jobs.
Objective propositions are phrases that correspond to the complement object of the verb of the main clause. The objectives or incorporate are introduced by verbs like to judge, to believe, to think, to see, and so on.
Wǒ xiǎng tā hěn piàoliang.
I think that she is pretty.
Wǒ xiǎng tā bù yuànyì.
I think that he doesn’t want it.
Wǒ juéde tā bù lái.
I think that he won’t come.
Wǒ rènwéi tā bù xiǎng kànshū.
I think that he doesn’t want to read.
Wǒ yǐwéi nǐ yǐjing zǒu le.
I thought (wrongly) that you already left.
Causative verbs also called doable, express an action not done by the subject but done by others. The most used causative verbs are: to ask, to pray, to let, to make sure that, to permit.
请 (qǐng ) “to ask, to pray, to invite”
Tā qǐng yī ge péngyou lái tā nàli.
He invited his friend to come with him.
Qǐng nǐ xuéxí.
让 (ràng) “to make sure that, to let”
Lǎoshī ràng xuésheng míngbai.
The professor makes sure that the students understand.
Ràng wǒ kàn.
Let me watch.
A structure that’s often used is the following:
Subject + 叫 (jiào)/ 让 (ràng) + 你 (nǐ) / 他 (tā) + Verb, 你 (nǐ )/ 他 (tā) 就 (jiù) + Verb
Wǒ jiào nǐ chīfàn, nǐ jiù chīfàn.
If I tell you to eat, you eat (that’s it).
With this structure, the speaker makes sure that the listener does what the speaker says, without giving them the chance to reply.