Ten Secrets to Improving Your Mandarin Skills

Without a good foundation, a building will collapse quickly. When it comes to learning a language, a good knowledge of sentence structure is the foundation.

After having taught hundreds of students from all over the world during the last couple of years, I realized that many students struggle with learning the basic Chinese sentence structure. Check out below for my “TEN SECRETS” to improving your Mandarin skills.

SECRET ONE: subject +[specific time+ method+ place] +verb +object

You can make over 80% daily used Mandarin sentences by extending below basic structure.

  • Basic sentence structure

Subject + verb + object

他             吃         饭。

Tā            chī        fàn 。

He           eats      rice.

  • Extended Sentence structures

Subject + specific time + verb + object

他                 现在             吃         饭 。

Tā               xiànzài         chī         fàn.

He                now           eats        rice.

Subject + specific time + method + verb + object

他               现在               走路          去吃    饭 。

Tā              xiànzài          zǒulù        qùchī    fàn.

He               now              walks      to eat    rice.

Subject + specific time + method + place + verb + object

他                   现在           走路       去饭店    吃         饭。

 Tā                 xiànzài      zǒulù    qù fàndiàn  chī       fàn .

He                 now        walks to restaurant to eat     rice.


In Mandarin,  去(qù) /来(lái) /在(zài) (<technical term for these symbol>, something like direction …) usually appear before the “location” and indicate the direction:

“在(zài)” you are at a place,

“去(qù) /来(lái)” you come or go to a place from somewhere else.”


Please make the words given in each line into a sentence .

1  去       明天         看书         哪儿         你

qù     míngtiān     kànshū       nǎr           nǐ

2  在      上课         哪儿         他      下午

zài     shàngkè      nǎr           tā     xià wǔ

3  想       晚饭         什么         你      吃

xiǎng    wǎnfàn    shénme      nǐ      chī

4  什么         学习         语言         你

shénme       xuéxí        yǔyán       nǐ

5  在北京     吗       房子         你       有

zài Běijīng   ma     fángzi       nǐ       yǒu

6  去超市       周末         东西         我       买

qù chāoshì zhōumò      dōngxī     wǒ      mǎi

7  骑车         喝咖啡        去公园           我          早上

qíchē          hē kāfēi    qù gōngyuán     wǒ     zǎoshang

8  早上            学习         在哪儿         你           明天

zǎoshang       xuéxí         zài nǎr         nǐ          míngtiān

I’m Becky from China, I have been working as a professional Mandarin instructor for over four years. I offer Business Mandarin, Cross-cultural Mandarin, Survival Chinese, HSK Exam preparation or Comprehensive Mandarin on Skype. Please BOOK my Chinese Courses on italki.

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