How to Connect Two or Multiple Verbs in Chinese? The Beginner’s Guide

How to Connect Two or Multiple Verbs in Chinese

Mandarin Chinese and English have the same basic sentence pattern ‘subject-verb-object’, AKA ‘S-V-O’. But when it comes to using two or multiple verbs in one sentence, Chinese works somewhat differently. In this article, we’ll look at how to connect different verbs in a Chinese sentence, and we’ll also talk about a common mistake that many learners make at the early stage of learning Chinese.

Let’s get started!

How to Use Two or Multiple Verbs in a Chinese Sentence

In English, you normally need to use a preposition or conjunction such as “to” or “and” to connect different verbs (or verb phrases) in a sentence. For instance,

I decide to go home.
I decide to go home and eat dinner.

However, in Chinese, describing two or multiple actions in a row is straightforward. You can connect verbs (or verb phrases) in Chinese by simply placing them one after another. No connecting word is needed whatsoever.

决定家。
juédìng huí jiā.
Literally, “I decide go home.”

决定晚饭。
juédìng huí jiā chī wănfàn.
Literally, “I decide go home eat dinner.” 

As you can see, the sequence of actions is already pretty clear in such a structure, therefore, there is no need to use any conjunction.

Pattern

subject + verb/verb phrase 1 + verb/verb phrase 2 +…

Let’s see more examples!

  • 上海我。
    xiǎng lái shànghǎi kàn wǒ.
    He wants to come to Shanghai to visit me.
  • 学校中文课。
    Tā yào  xuéxiào shàng Zhōngwén kè.
    He needs to go to school to take Chinese lessons.
  • 我们一起超市水。
    Wǒmen yìqǐ  chāoshì mǎi shuǐ.
    We go to the supermarket together to buy water.
  • 机场她。
    ràng wǒ  jīchǎng jiē tā.
    She asked me to go to the airport to pick her up.
  • 电话她病了。
    Tā  diànhuà shuō tā bìng le.
    She called and said she was ill.
How to Use Two or Multiple Verbs in a Chinese Sentence
  • 我们打算火车北京。
    Wǒmen dǎsuàn zuò huǒchē  Běijīng.
    We plan to take the train to go to Beijing.
  • 你可以手机电视。
    Nǐ kěyǐ yòng shǒujī kàn diànshì.
    You can use your phone to watch TV.
  • 下来杯咖啡吧!
    Zuò xiàlái  bēi kāfēi ba!
    Take a seat and have a cup of coffee!
  • 了一杯咖啡,了一块蛋糕。
    Wǒ  le yì bēi kāfēi, chī le yí kuài dàngāo.
    I drank a cup of coffee and ate a slice of cake.
  • 我经常一个人电影火锅。
    Wǒ jīngcháng yí gè rén kàn diànyǐng chī huǒguō.
    I often go to movies and eat hotpot alone.
go to movies and eat hotpot alone

Alert! NEVER connect verbs with 和 (hé)! Typical rookie mistake!

Even though the word “and” often appears in the English translations, don’t attempt to use 和 (hé) to connect verbs in Chinese. It’s not really an equivalent! 和 (hé) can be only used to connect nouns in Chinese, not verbs. Just use one verb (or verb phrase) after another and you’re all set!

  • √ 我喝了一杯咖啡一杯茶。
    Wǒ hē le yì bēi kāfēi  yì bēi chá.
    I drank a cup of coffee and a cup of tea.
  • × 我喝了一杯咖啡吃了一块蛋糕。
    Wǒ  le yì bēi kāfēi chī le yí kuài dàngāo.
    Don’t connect verbs with 和 (hé)!
  • √ 我了一杯咖啡了一块蛋糕。
    Wǒ  le yì bēi kāfēi chī le yí kuài dàngāo.
    I drank a cup of coffee and ate a slice of cake.

Quick Recap: Connecting Verbs in Chinese

You can connect two or multiple verbs (or verb phrases) in a Chinese sentence directly without a connecting word like “to” or “and” in English. Simply place one verb or verb phrase after another and the sequence is clear! The word 和 (hé) doesn’t work the same way as the English “and”. Don’t use 和 (hé) to connect verbs, or any words other than nouns in Chinese.

Remember, grammar is the glue that holds the pieces of language together, so don’t forget to check other grammar articles on ImproveMandarin.Com’s Grammar Channel! 谢谢 (xièxie) for reading this post!