Chinese Verb Conjugation

Chinese verb conjugation and the correct word order are really important to learn Chinese very well. Although Chinese language has two forms of verbs; one of them is the dynamic or also known as finitive verb that allows showing progressive or continued action of the subject, and, on the other hand, it is the stative verbs that don't have duration, and indicate stage; Chinese verbs are not inflected, this mean that verbs in Chinese do not conjugate in the same way like the verbs of Spanish or German.

Both German and Spanish verbs are inflected, for example, if you take some German or Spanish classes, you will learn the German and Spanish verb conjugation is the following way: Ich habe / Er hat / Du hast / Wir haben, and yo tengo / él (ella) tiene / tu tienes / nosotros tenemos / ustedes tiene, etc. respectively. Therefore, Chinese verbs do not determine the tense in the sentence but the order of words.

Thanks to Chinese verbs must not be conjugated, memorizing conjugation tables are not necessary; however, you must put attention in word order, because the word order in several times is the only indication that Chinese has to indicate tense in the sentence. The word order in normal Chinese declarative sentences is the same as that of English declarative sentences: "subject" - "verb" - "object". For example:

I drink tea. 我喝茶
You drink tea. 你喝茶
She drinks tea. 她喝茶
We drink tea. 我們喝茶


As you can see in these examples to indicate a plural pronoun, the following character is added "".

Chinese language doesn’t have helping words such as articles (a / an / the) or infinitive verbs (to), Chinese language also doesn’t have the necessity to use the verb such as "am", for example:

You drink tea. 你喝茶
You are drinking tea. 你喝茶


As it can see Chinese grammatical doesn’t differentiate between "drink" and "am drinking".

Knowing that Chinese verbs do not indicate the tense in the sentences, a good question is, how do we express the past or the future tense in Chinese? How do we say, she drank tea yesterday, or she will drink tea? Chinese language knows "tense" such as "verbal aspect".

Chinese language must use adverbs to express time and tense. For example:

Right now he goes to Beijing. 現在他去北京
Tomorrow you go to Beijing. 明天你去北京



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