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Learn the Basics of Mandarin Chinese: The Use of 'Ba'

written by: Sujanti Djuanda • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 10/14/2013

把【bǎ】 is one of most difficult words to understand for Mandarin Chinese beginners. Find an explanation and examples of the use of 把【bǎ】as measuring word and 把【bǎ】construction that is often used in imperatives for something changes/is done with the things.

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    Learn the basics of Mandarin Chinese: 把【bǎ】as a word to describe measurement, is used for small objects that can be held, relatively long and flat objects, such as chair, umbrella, toothbrush, knife, hammer.

    The 把【bǎ】construction is often used with 在【zài=at】,给【gěi=to, for】 ,到【dào=to】in imperatives for something changes/is done with the things (what did you do with the things).

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    I. 把【bǎ】as Measuring Word

    把【bǎ】as measure word, is used for small objects that can be held, relatively long and flat objects, such as chair, umbrella, toothbrush, knife, hammer.

    Example 1:

    I have two toothbrushes.

    我【wǒ=I】有【yǒu=have】两【liǎng=two】把【bǎ= a measure word for toothbrushes】牙刷【yáshuā=toothbrush】。

    我 有 两 把 牙刷。

    Example 2:

    That chair is pretty good.

    那【nà=that】把【bǎ= a measure word for chairs】椅子【yǐzi=chair】很【hěn=very】不错【bùcuò=pretty good】。

    那 把 椅子 很 不错。

    Example 3:

    There are about twenty hammers.

    大概【dàgài= approximate】有【yǒu=there is】20【èrshí=twenty】把【bǎ=a measure word for hammers】锤子【chuízi=hammer】。

    大概 有20 把 锤子。

    Example 4:

    An umbrella

    一【yī=an】把【bǎ= a measure word for umbrellas】雨伞【ǔsǎn=umbrella】。

    一 把 雨伞。

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    II. The 把【bǎ】Construction

    The把【bǎ】 construction is often used in imperatives when something changes or is done with the things (what did you do with the things). Here 把【bǎ】can't be translated to English.

    a. Grammar form:

    (Subject) + 把【bǎ】+ Object + Verb

    Example 1:

    Unfreeze the chicken wings first.

    先【xiān=at first】把【bǎ】鸡翅【jīchì=chicken wings】解冻【jiědòng=unfreeze】。

    先 把 鸡翅 解冻。

    You can't say by omitting把【bǎ】," 先【xiān=at first】鸡翅【jīchì=chicken wings】解冻【jiědòng=unfreeze】"。

    Example 2:

    You wash up the dishes.

    你【nǐ=you】把【bǎ】碗【wǎn=dishes, bowl】洗掉【xǐdiào=wash up】。

    你 把 碗 洗掉。

    b. The 把【bǎ】construction is often used with 在【zài=at】.

    Grammar form:

    (Subject) + 把【bǎ】+ Object + Verb + 在【zài=at】+ other

    Example 1:

    I think that put the money in stock market is very risk.

    我【wǒ=I】觉得【juéde=think】把【bǎ】钱【qián=money】放【fàng=put】在【zài=at】股市【gǔshì=stock market】是【shì=is】非常【fēicháng=very, extremely】冒险【màoxiǎn= take a risk】的【de】

    我 觉得 把 钱 放 在 股市 是 非常 冒险 的。

    Example 2:

    Tourism and feeling are combined together.

    把【bǎ】旅游【lǚyóu=tourism】和【hé=and】情感【qínggǎn= feeling】结合【jiéhé=combine】在【zài=at】一起【yīqǐ= together】。

    把 旅游 和 情感 结合 在 一起。

    c. The 把【bǎ】construction is often used with 给【gěi=to, for, give】 when someone wants to express the change of hands of object.

    Grammar form:

    (Subject) + 把【bǎ】+ Object + Verb + 给【gěi=to, for, give】 + Other

    Example 1:

    You send the number via SMS to me.

    你【nǐ=you】把【ba】号码【hàomǎ=number】发【fā=send out】短信【duǎnxìn= SMS message】给【gěi=to, give】我【wǒ=I】。

    你 把 号码 发 短信 给 我。

    Example 2:

    You send me your curriculum vitae to me.

    你【nǐ=you】把【bǎ】简历【jiǎnlì=curriculum vitae】发【fā=send out】给【gěi=to, give】我【wǒ=I】。

    你 把 简历 发 给 我。

    Example 3:

    I haven’t sent the things to you yet.

    我【wǒ=I】还【hái=yet】没【méi=not】把【bǎ】东西【dōngxi=thing】寄【jì=send】给【gěi=to, for, give】你【nǐ=you】。

    我 还没 把 东西 寄 给 你。

    d. The 把【bǎ】construction is often used with 到【dào=to, reach】for a change of location; include a book page-turn.

    Grammar form:

    (Subject) + 把【bǎ】+ Object + Verb + 到【dào=to】+ Other

    Example 1:

    Students, please turn to page ten in your book.

    同学们【tóngxuémen=classmate, students】,把【bǎ】书【shū=book】反【fǎn=turn over】到【dào=to】第页【dìshíyuè= page ten】。

    同学们,把 书 反 到 第页。

    Example 2:

    Where do they want to deliver these things?

    他们【tāmen=they】要【yào=want to】把【bǎ】这些【zhèxiē=these】东西【dōngxī=thing】送【sòng=deliver】到【dào=to】哪里【nǎlǐ=where】去【qù=go】呢【ne】?

    他们 要 把 这些 东西 送到 哪里 去 呢?

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