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The usage of “在zai” in Mandarin Chinese | Learn Chinese Grammar

Updated: Oct 29, 2023


chinesegrammarzai在

Teach yourself Chinese, Learn Chinese Grammar.

in Chinese can assume as verb and prepostion grammatical roles in a Chinese sentence:


1. Functions of the verb 在

(1)The verb 在 expresses existence. For example:

他父母都在。

tā fù mǔ dōu zài 。

His parents are still alive.


那座老房子不在了。

nà zuò lǎo fáng zǐ bú zài le.

That old house is no longer existed.


(2)A verb can be used to indicate an action in progress

我在吃饭。

wǒ zài chī fàn 。

I`m eating.


(3)The location verb 在 zài ‘be located at’ To indicate location, use 在 zài.

Notice that English uses the verb ‘be’ and the preposition ‘at’ to express this meaning.

The sentence structure is : subject + 在 + phrase of locality.


Tā zài jiā.

He is at home


北京

wǒ zài běi jīng.

I`m in Beijing.


图书馆公园的北边。

Túshūguǎn zài gōngyuán de běibiān.

The library is north of the park.


Negation for 在 zài is 不在bù zài 。

1.他在家。

Tā bú zài jiā.

He is not at home.


2.我北京

bú zài běi jīng 。

I`m not in Beijing


3.图书馆在公园的北边。

Túshūguǎn bú zài gōngyuán de běibiān.

The library is not to the north of the park.


2.Grammatical features of the verb 在

1.The aspectual particles 了 着 or 过 , cannot be used after 在.

2. 在 cannot be reduplicated. 3. Nouns or pronouns denoting persons cannot be used independetly as the object of the preposition 在 to show locality。 They must take 这儿zhè er or 那儿nà er.。

For example : 他在我这儿。 tā zài wǒ zhè ér. He is at my place. 我在朋友那儿。 wǒ zài péng yǒu nà ér. I`m at my friend`s place.


 

2. The preposition, 在 plus a noun indicates a location

在 zài also functions as a preposition. As a preposition, it indicates the location where an action occurs. Depending upon the sentence, it may be translated into English as ‘at,’ ‘in,’ or ‘on.’

The sentence structure is : subject + + verb. or sometimes subject + verb + 在phrase.


他在家吃饭。

Tā zài jiā chī fàn.

He eats at home.


车租车停在路口.

chē zū chē tíng zài lù kǒ.

Taxis parked at the intersection.


 

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