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Top 10 Most Common Chinese mistakes made by English Speakers: #10

YANGYANG CHENG

Hi, Yangyang here! 


Today I want to share with you the first of a series of posts on the most common mistakes English speakers make when speaking Chinese.


In my years of teaching Chinese, I have come to notice that English speakers tend to make similar mistakes over and over again.


The goal here is to become aware of these mistakes to help you avoid making them in the first place! 


Mistake #10: Putting Time and Location in the wrong place


When it comes to simple Chinese sentences such as "I love you" and "You love me", the word order is the same in Chinese as it is in English. You can simply translate the sentence word by word from English to Chinese and you'll get the correct Chinese sentence.


However,  if a sentence has other elements such as when, where and how the action happens, you need to apply the Chinese word order grammar rule as follows:



Examples: 


The following two sentences show the right sequence of a complicated Chinese sentence. Both of them are correct. Now memorize them!


Note: Among time phrases or location phrases themselves, remember this: 


Think of Chinese as moving the focus from BIG TO SMALL


Time: Year, month, week, day, part of the day (morning, afternoon, evening), o'clock


Location: Country, province (state), city, street, building, apartment


Examples:


English: I get up at 7:00am everyday.
Chinglish: I everyday morning 7:00 get up.

(“7am everyday” is “WHEN the action takes place”, so it should go before the action “get up”.  Among timing phrases, the sequence is that “big time” comes first, followed by “smaller time.”)


English: See you at 9:00 pm next Thursday.
Chinglish: Next Thursday evening 9:00 see you.

(“Big time” first, followed by “smaller time.”)


English: I studied Chinese in China for two years.
Chinglish: I in China studied Chinese for two years.

(Two years here is the duration of the action, not when the action TAKES PLACE.)


English: I am going to China tomorrow.
Chinglish: I tomorrow will go to China / Tomorrow I will go to China

(“China” here is the destination of the action, not where the action TAKES PLACE, so “go to China” should be considered as the action.)


English: Where do you come from?
Chinglish: You from where come?

(Questions and answers should follow the same word order and they mirror each other. See the answer above for mirroring.)


English: I come from China.
Chinglish: I from China come.

(“From China” is “HOW the action takes place.”)


English: How do you go to work?
Chinglish: You how go to work?

(Questions and answers should follow the same word order and they mirror each other. See the answer above for mirroring.)


English: I go to work by subway.
Chinglish: I by subway go to work.

(“by subway” is “HOW the action takes place”. It should go before “go to work.”)


English: Where do you work?
Chinglish: You where work?

(Questions and answers should follow the same word order and they mirror each other. See the answer above for mirroring.)


English: I work at IBM.
Chinglish: I at IBM work.

(“at IBM” is “WHERE the action takes place”. It should go before “work”).


I hope this helps you remember where to put time and place words in your Chinese sentences!


Please leave any questions you have in the comments section below and I will get back to you with an answer.  


Also, I'd love to see you use the comments section to practice forming some sentences with what we just learned, show me what you can do!

Top 10 Most Common Mistake #9 coming next week ^_^


If you want to get a more thorough understanding of this concept, please take a look at this lesson with the Golden Rule of Chinese Word Order:


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YANGYANG CHENG is the founder of Yoyo Chinese and a TV personality. She taught Chinese to MBA students at Pepperdine University. Before that, Yangyang was the host of the popular entertainment TV show "Hello Hollywood!, bringing Western culture to tens of millions of viewers in China. Currently, she teaches Mandarin through video lessons on Yoyo Chinese, and can also be found hosting educational shows on popular channels like the Discovery Channel.

Wed, 06 Nov 2013 12:45:00 GMT

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