Grammarly, Chinese Edition
Welcome back to our third week of the Chinese starter kit! If you’ve been following along with this series, you should now be familiar with the two of the more unique aspects of Chinese, namely pinyin, and tones. Now let’s take a look at how grammar functions in Chinese.
Broadly speaking, “grammar” refers to the rules that govern the use of language. Of course, every language has its own unique rules, structures, and conventions, but one of the most common ways to classify the grammar of languages is by word order. The good news is that for those familiar with English, Romance languages (e.g. French, Spanish, Portuguese, etc.) and even Russian, the basic word order used in Chinese follows the same pattern as in these languages, namely subject + verb + object (SVO).
This is another example a little bit more complicated but based on the same grammar structure.
Basic example one of the most elementary Chinese grammar structures.
Below you’ll find a few resources to help you get to grips with some of the basics. We highly recommend reading all of them, as each of the grammar points covered will be essential for even basic communication.
Chinese Grammar Wiki (A1 Grammar Points): This is probably the single best free online grammar resource designed for those learning Chinese as a foreign language, striking a good balance between being comprehensive and accessible. The A1 grammar points on this page are at the HSK 1 level, and each point includes clear explanations and simple examples with pinyin. While everything at this level is quite basic, watch out for “noun+adjective” sentences and particles as these sometimes cause confusion for beginners.
Chinese Boost also has a good grammar section (although not as thorough as the Chinese Grammar Wiki). If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the new grammar, you might want to start with their 10 Basic Chinese Grammar Points for Beginners article. For a summary of some general rules that all beginners should know, check out their 5 General Rules for Chinese Grammar article.
For all you hardcore linguistics and grammar nerds out there, chinesenotes.com also has the textbook-length “An Introduction to Chinese Grammar” freely available to browse. Chinese terms are shown in characters but if you mouse over them it will display the corresponding pinyin and English translation.
Apply The Rules, Try It Yourself
After reading all the articles that we’ve recommended, you’re ready to download and try the follows apps to start applying and reinforcing all the knowledge (Pinyin, Tones & Grammar) that you’ve been learning.
Learn Chinese: Grammar A1
This app is basic but really helpful and contains good explanations of grammar structures. It’s perfect for beginners because it provides the most basic grammar structures with accompanying examples.
The app is FREE and is available for Android, making it a good choice for this week.
Duolingo may well be the most famous language learning app in the world, and after a long wait it’s finally available for those learning Chinese. Its friendly design, combined with the sheer number of exercises for each level makes it the perfect app to start combining our previous topics about pinyin and tones with the grammar you’ve been learning this week.
This app is available for iOS, Android, and through their website. The free version is very complete, so in some cases, you don’t need to get the plus version, but if you’re interested you can get the Plus package starting at $9.99 USD/month, but sometimes there are discounts of up to 50% of the monthly price!
HelloChinese is similar to Doulingo but specifically for the Chinese language. It includes a lot of exercises to help you practice your listening, writing, speaking, and vocabulary. Once you have completed the standard course you can start using the podcast section to improve your tones and hear grammar used in context. For those learning Chinese from scratch, HelloChinese is undoubtedly one of the best apps out there.
Now it’s your turn! Grammar is often many students’ least favorite part of language learning, but with so many great resources available for free and apps that make learning grammar infinitely more enjoyable than traditional textbooks, there has never been a better time to start learning.
The next week is our last week of the Chinese starter kit series, but of course, it is only the beginning of your Chinese language journey.
After reading this article you can check our related articles about 10 Free Resources To Get Your Head About Chinese Grammar and 7 Ways In Which Learning Chinese Will Turn Your World Upside Down.
If you are ready to take your Chinese language learning to the next level after this course, you can check out our course and program offerings and consider coming to China for a true immersion experience. Apply here!