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Lesson 10 How to understand and use Chinese sentence pattern “…把…”

Posted by Grace Feng on January 10, 2012

If you’ve tried to read some Chinese articles, you should have a good chance to come across character “把(bǎ). It’s a character that can be used both as noun and a help character with other verb. As a help character, it is the keyword to form a certain sentence pattern.

As noun, it can be used as the following two meanings (as explained in Wiktionary):

  1. measure word for anything that can be held in one’s hand (sān bǎ dāo) 三把刀: three knives
  2. handle (normally used with other characters to combine into new word), such as:
    (bǎ wò) 把握: grasp

This is straight forward. The difficult part for this character lays in its usage with verb. Let’s move on with new words of this lesson first:

dēng guān
把 (helping verb)
灯 (light) 关 (turn off)
 [mp3j track=”L10-ba.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L10-deng.mp3″]  [mp3j track=”L10-guan.mp3″]
qián diū zuàn jiè
钱 (money) 丢 (lose)
钻戒 (diamond ring)
 [mp3j track=”L10-qian.mp3″]  [mp3j track=”L10-diu.mp3″]  [mp3j track=”L10-zuan-jie.mp3″]
rēng xiàng dà hǎi fàng dào
扔向 (throw to) 大海 (sea)  放到 (put down, place on)
 [mp3j track=”L10-reng-xiang.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L10-da-hai.mp3″]  [mp3j track=”L10-fang-dao.mp3″]
zhuō shàng
桌上 (on the table)
 [mp3j track=”L10-zhuo-shang.mp3″]

You can use estroke tool below to practice the writing of these words while you’re learning them.

  • You can copy and paste a few characters together into the box. They’ll show in the animation window one by one.
  • Once the stroke animation stops, click in the animation window and hit ENTER to replay it.
  • You can use the sliding bar to control writing speed of the animation.

Once you’re done, let’s move on …

According to Wiktionary, as helping verb, is “a special type of helping verb which, when placed in front of the object of a sentence, allows for the object of the sentence to be placed before the verb. This allows for greater flexibility in complex sentence construction.

It’s a good summary of its usage, however, I don’t think you can really understand how to use it by just reading its usage. There’s no easy counterpart in English that can be used the same way. I hope I can help you to understand the usage of this character in this post. (Yes, it needs a whole post to explain!)

Let me pull out two sentences that have “ with verb in it first:

Example 1:

wǒ bǎ dēng guān le.

我把灯关了.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Example 2:

tā bǎ qián diū le.

他把钱丢了.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

The sentence pattern in the above examples are like this:

who + 把 + what + verb

They are similar to the English pattern as “have something + past tense verb”. In this case, the above can be translated as:

Example 1: I had the light turned off.

and …

Example 2: He had the money lost.

Do you want to see some more examples? Please continue …

tā bǎ zuànjiè rēng xiàng le dàhǎi.

她把钻戒扔向了大海.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

lǎoshī bǎ shū fàng dàoliǎo zhuō shàng.

老师把书放到了桌上.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Honestly, you can equivalently translate the above two sentences into “have something + ad verb” pattern to English. It’s not a graceful translation in English though. Only so it’s easier for you to understand how the pattern was used:

straight translation: She had her diamond ring thrown into the sea.

graceful translation: She threw her diamond ring into the sea.

straight translation: The teacher had the book to be put on the table.

graceful translation: The teacher put her book on the table.

In my opinion, the need to use pattern “……” is to emphasize on the verb part. To lead the audience to focus on the consequence of the verb, to move their attention to things that could happen as a consequence if the verb being executed. If you turn pattern “……” sentence back into ordinary word order, the consequence that the verb might cause is not emphasized:

 

我把灯关了. (I have the light turned off.)

As compared to:

我关了灯. (I turned the light off.)

 

他把钱丢了. (He had the money lost.)

As compared to:

他丢了钱. (He lost his money.)

After this lesson, could you make some “把” pattern Chinese sentences by yourself? Don’t be shy to put them down in your comment.

Hope you’re having a wonderful day today!

See you soon!

 

 

 

 

Related posts:

Lesson 11 How to describe “doing things at the same time” in Chinese?
Reading, Listening and Speaking practice 15
Who are playing online games and online casino games in today's China?

 

Category: Chinese vocabulary,JLC Chinese grammar lessons

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16 Responses to “Lesson 10 How to understand and use Chinese sentence pattern “…把…””

  1. nothing

    Shu:

    02-05-2012 11:52 am

    Hi Grace,
    You got a great site and you have patience :)
    I wrote a detailed post about Ba structure a few weeks ago. Ba3 has been a quite special Chinese linguistic phenomenon and drawing a lot linguists’ attention to decide whether it grammatically belongs to verb category or preposition category. Some say ba is a preposition, some say it is a verb, and some with creative mind say it is a coverb …
    You are welcome to take a look at my post and listen to the song:) http://www.chinesetolearn.com/?p=2303
    Building a website is time consuming, thank you for helping people learning Chinese. You are great:)

    Reply

  2. nothing

    Grace:

    02-05-2012 1:53 pm

    Thanks Shu,

    I love that song on your site, I always love Teresa Teng’s songs. You just reminded me to prepare another post to introduce one of Teresa’s best songs to my readers. Welcome to visit back when you got a chance…

    Grace

    Reply

  3. nothing

    Ryan:

    01-28-2015 3:03 pm

    This is a hard one. I‘ve been having issues deciding when and when not to use ba. Since I am in China, I have asked a friend to help me with ba and he can’t seem to understand when and when not to use ba either.
    so as I understand it, if ba is used, the noun following ba is the direct object. I will try to give examples next time.
    Can you maybe clarify when to use and not use ba.

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      01-30-2015 4:35 am

      Hi Ryan,

      There’s no clear rule to follow on when to use or not to use “ba” pattern. As a matter of fact, you can switch “ba” sentence to no “ba” sentence without changing the meaning at all. It’s also valid vice versa.

      For example,

      我 把 书 拿走了。

      Can be writen as: 我 拿走了 书。

      No difference in its meaning. With “ba”, the verb. 拿走了 seems to be the focus of the sentence. I didn’t tear the book, I didn’t eat the book, I actually took away the book.

      Without “ba”, the noun 书 seems more important. I didn’t take away your money, I didn’t take away your iphone, I actually took away your book!

      Does this help?

      Grace

      Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      01-30-2015 4:37 am

      Answer to this question is “yes”:

      “so as I understand it, if ba is used, the noun following ba is the direct object. “

      Reply

  4. nothing

    congtyloithanh:

    01-01-2016 10:14 am

    Thank you so much for your great jobs, I’ve been searching for a lot of learning chinese websites but your is the best!

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      01-02-2016 3:54 am

      You’re welcome Congty. Thanks for your kind words. :-)

      Grace

      Reply

  5. nothing

    卡皮尔:

    08-11-2016 8:37 am

    我吧窗户打开了。
    请你把灯关上了。

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      08-18-2016 3:50 am

      卡皮尔, 有一个小小的错误:

      我把窗户打开了。

      I believe it was typing error. :-)

      Grace

      Reply

  6. nothing

    Le:

    12-20-2016 10:03 pm

    Hi Grace,
    I just discover your teaching from this site and really like it. Thank you for making it available!
    A question…
    Is what listed below meant to be a link to mp3? to teach us how to pronounce the word?
    If it is… the link seems to be disconnected.
    Thanks!
    There are many of them like this underneath the listed words
    [mp3j track=”L10-reng-xiang.mp3″]
    [mp3j track=”L10-deng.mp3″]…

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      12-21-2016 8:25 pm

      Hi Le,

      Thank you for reminding me of this. Actually they are the code for an audio player plugin that I’ve removed lately during a site clean-up.

      I will remove the codes soon when I have some free time during Christmas.

      Cheers,

      Grace

      Reply

  7. nothing

    tiendung:

    03-24-2017 9:22 am

    我把我的钱扔向了大海。 :))
    Thank you a lot graceful Grace! 你是很好很好老师。

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      03-28-2017 3:41 am

      tiendung, 不用谢, 相信你也是个很好的学生。 :-)

      Grace

      Reply

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