Using the 把 (ba) Sentence – Lesson 1

30 November 2017

Much has been said about the 把 sentence, which has become one of the best known constructions in Mandarin.

把 (ba) Sentence
把 (ba) Sentence

It is used to express the idea that something is dealt with or is disposed of, such as being arranged, placed or handled in a particular way or manner. It is focused on what is done to the object. In English, we do not have a construction exactly matching it, which can make it a little confusing for English speakers to understand. In many instances, you may either use a 把 sentence or a regular sentence; In some situations you have no choice. In this article we explain when you would use a 把 sentence.

1. To focus on either the doer or the receiver of the action, you may use a regular sentence, the  sentence or the " bèi " sentence.

Yi tiáo dà hé dang zhù le wode lù.

一 条 大 河   挡 住   了 我的 路 。

A big river blocked my way.


Yi tiáo dà hé ba wode lù dang zhù le.

一 条 大 河 把 我的 路 挡 住 了 。

A big river blocked my way.


Wode lù bèi yi tiáo dà hé dang zhù le.

我的 路 被 一 条 大 河 挡 住 了 。

My way is blocked by a big river.

The first sentence plainly states a fact; the emphasis is on the subject (doer). The ba sentence emphasizes what the subject (doer) has done to the object (receiver). The bei sentence highlights the receiver of the action, and the agent becomes less important.


2. In Chinese if the object is definite, something known to the listener or mentioned in earlier discourse, you have the choice of using the  sentence, the object-fronting sentence, or regular sentence.

Wo ba nà ben xiaoshuo kàn wán le.

我   把 那  本   小说         看 完   了 。

I have finished reading that novel.


Nà ben xiaoshuo wo kàn wán le.

那 本      小说       我 看   完了 。

That novel I have finished reading.


Wo kàn wán nà ben xiaoshuo le.

我   看    完   那 本    小说 了 。

I have finished reading that novel.

All these three sentences are appropriate though the first two are more frequently used in conversation than the third one.

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