Co-verbs 在﹐到﹐给﹐对﹐为﹐从﹐离﹐跟﹐用﹐坐 ......
Other terminology: pre-transitive verbs, preposition, 介词
Many co-verbs are verbs in Chinese, but some of them can only be used as co-verbs in modern Chinese, such as 为 and 被. (把 and 被 are not included in the following chart of co-verbs. Please see the separate notes on the 把 and 被 constructions.)
In Chinese, when it comes to describing actions, sequence of actions is important. The first action should come first. For example, I went to China by airplane. You have to think that the action of 坐 sitting on the airplane happens before going to China, therefore 坐飞机 by airplane should be placed before 去中国went to China. If you want to say: I go to school by car, you must bear in mind that in a Chinese person’s mind you have to sit in the car before you can reach school, therefore, 坐汽车 by car should be placed before去学校go to school.
As you can see from the above examples, a co-verb is followed by a noun to form a co-verb clause.
Commonly used Co-verbs
A co-verb clause should be placed before a main verb of a sentence. The following are examples of sentence patterns with co-verb clauses.
I'll go to the cinema from school.
I eat at home.
Adverbs, such as 常常, 总是, and modal verbs such as 可以, 应该 should be placed before a co-verb clause.
I can often eat at home.
If a sentence has more than one co-verb, you must think about the sequence of actions and put the first action first. For example,
tā yòng zhōngwén duì wŏ shuō
他 用 中文 对 我 说...
HE IN CHINESE TO ME SAY...
He said to me in Chinese...
qĭng nĭ gĕi wŏ gēn lăoshī shuō yíxiàr
请 你 给 我 跟 老师 说 一下儿.
PLEASE YOU FOR ME TO TEACHER SAY YIXIAR
Could you say that to the teacher for me?
It is very far from my home to school.
It takes an hour from here to school.
2. 离 can't be used if you don't state the duration of time or distance between A and B, but 从 can be used, as in
wŏ cóng shítáng lái zhèr
我 从 食 堂 来 这儿.
I FROM CANTEEN COME HERE
I came from the canteen.
The co-verb 给 has ambiguous meanings. It can be "for" or "to", but 为 often means "for" or "on behalf of" which is similar to 替.
wŏ gĕi wŏ péngyou xiĕ xìn
我 给 我 朋 友 写 信.
I TO/FOR MY FRIEND WRITE LETTER
I am writing to my friend./ I am writing for my friend.
wŏ wèi wŏ péngyou xiĕ xìn
我 为 我 朋友 写 信.
I FOR MY FRIEND WRITE LETTER
I am writing a letter for my friend.
They are all similar and they can all mean "I'll speak to him.", but the implications can be slightly different:
跟___ To talk with him.
对___ To talk to him face to face.
给___ Ambiguous: can either mean to or for.
1. Translate the following sentences into Chinese.
1. I am going out and you are going to see your friend, but who is going to cook for the children?
2. Don't speak to me in Mandarin.
3. Don't always do everything for him.
4. Do you often eat lunch at home?
5. The people who live in China are very different from the overseas Chinese.
6. Where is the shop which you bought these apples from?
7. We all like the fish from the Yellow River.
8. How far away is the Imperial Palace?
9. My home is outside the city, and is about 30 km from here.
10. Mr. Wang lives far away from school.
11. How can I get to the Language Institute from here? You can get there by plane.
12. He has been working non-stop since yesterday.
13. Do you remember the vocabulary from Lessons One to Forty five?
14. I have learnt from the newspaper that China is about to achieve the Four Modernizations.
Make sentences in Chinese with the following information.
1. My classmate, with, went to, cinema.
2. We, from the library, to canteen, will go.
3. Now, to the end of class, 15 mins.
4. I, Chinese characters, with a pen-brush, to write.
5. You, China trip, tell me about, in Chinese.
6. Can, the meal, you, eat with, chopsticks.
7. My home, by car, to the Institute, 3 hrs., needs.
8. A letter, to Xiao Wang’s mother, for me, in Chinese, write.