|米饭||mǐfàn||cooked rice (a dog’s name)|
|它||tā||it (used for objects and nonhuman animals regardless of gender)|
在 (zài) is preposition that’s used in Chinese to explain where or when an action took place. The word order in sentences featuring 在 (zài) is very different from that found in sentences with similar meanings in English.
When used to indicate where something happened, is happening or will happen, use of 在 (zài) follows this pattern:
Subject + 在 (zài) + Place + Verb + Object
Wǒ zài dàxué xuéxí Zhōngwén.
I study Chinese in college.
In this sentence, the subject is 我 (wǒ; I), which corresponds to the person doing the action of studying. 在 (zài; in) is the preposition, 大学 (dàxué; college) is the place where the action of studying is taking place, and 中文 (Zhōngwén; Chinese) is the object that explains what is being studied.
Note that in the Chinese sentence, the preposition 在 (zài) and the place it refers to (大学 dàxué) come directly after the subject (我 wǒ). This word order is very different from English word order, in which the preposition (in) and place (college) come at the very end of the sentence.
Let’s look at another example:
Wǒ hé māma zài yī gè shāngdiàn de qiánmiàn kàn jiàn Mǐfàn de.
My mom and I caught sight of Rice in front of a shop.
In this sentence, the subject is 我和妈妈 (wǒ hé māma; my mom and I). Next comes the preposition 在 (zài; in), the place, 一个商店的面前 (yī gè shāngdiàn de qiánmiàn; in front of a store), the verb, 看见 (kàn jiàn; caught sight of) and the object, 米饭 (Mǐfàn; Rice).
Note that while the preposition and the place come before the verb and object in the Chinese version of the sentence, they come at the very end in the English version.
Beginning students whose native language is English often make mistakes with word order when trying to use 在 (zài) in a sentence. Therefore, it pays to be extra careful when using this word to ensure that you develop the habit of using it correctly right from the start.
In Chinese, 很 (hěn) is an adverb that’s used in front of verbs or adjectives to increase their intensity. It is frequently used in a way that’s similar to the adverbs “really” and “very” in English.
Let’s look at an example:
Tā hěn ài chī shuǐguǒ.
He (or it) really loves to eat fruit.
In this sentence, 很 (hěn) appears in the exact same place as its equivalent, “really,” in the English version.
Note that it’s also possible to translate the Chinese version of this sentence using the English word “very.” In this case, two different English word orders are possible: “He very much loves to eat fruit” or “He loves eating fruit very much.” While it’s possible to put the adverb “very much” at the end of the English sentence, no such word order is possible in Chinese.
Let’s consider one more example:
Tā hěn xiǎng hē shuǐ.
He (the dog) really wants to drink some water.
Here, 很 (hěn) appears before the verb 想 (xiǎng; to want), just like the adverb “really” comes before “want” in the English version.
In Chinese, …的时候 (de shíhou) is used to talk about things that happened at or during a particular time or period of time.
When used in a sentence, …的时候 (de shíhou) follows this pattern:
Subject + Verb or Adjective + …的时候 (de shíhou)
Let’s examine the following example:
Wǒ xiǎo de shíhòu hěn xǐhuān chī tángguǒ.
When I was little, I really liked to eat candy.
In this sentence, …的时候 (de shíhou) is being used to talk about something that was the case during a certain period of time in the past, in this case, the during the author’s childhood. The subject 我 (wǒ; I) comes first, followed by the adjective 小 (xiǎo; little), followed by …的时候 (de shíhou).
Here’s another example:
Wǒ zàijiā gōngzuò de shíhòu, tā xǐhuān zuò zài zhuōzi shàng kàn wǒ de diànnǎo.
When I’m at home, he likes to sit on the table and look at my computer.
Here, …的时候 (de shíhou) refers to a certain recurring period of time, namely whenever the author is at home.