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):
- measure word for anything that can be held in one’s hand (sān bǎ dāo) 三把刀: three knives
- 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:
|把 (helping verb)
||灯 (light)||关 (turn off)
|[mp3j track=”L10-ba.mp3″]||[mp3j track=”L10-deng.mp3″]||[mp3j track=”L10-guan.mp3″]|
|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″]|
|桌上 (on the table)|
You can use estroke tool below to practice the writing of these words while you’re learning them.
Once you’re done, let’s move on …
According to Wiktionary, as helping verb, 把 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 “把” with verb in it first:
wǒ bǎ dēng guān le.
tā bǎ qián diū le.
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.
Example 2: He had the money lost.
Do you want to see some more examples? Please continue …
tā bǎ zuànjiè rēng xiàng le dàhǎi.
lǎoshī bǎ shū fàng dàoliǎo zhuō shàng.
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 “…把…” 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 “…把…” 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!
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