Mandarin prepositions are used to link nouns, pronouns, and noun phrases within a sentence. Mandarin prepositions can refer to movement within time or space, or function as general prepositions such as the English prepositions with, to, or for.
The most common general Mandarin prepositions are:
对 – duì – to (someone)
跟 – gēn – with; from
给 – gěi – to; for
替 – tì – for (someone)
用 – yòng – with
Using Mandarin Prepositions
The object of a Mandarin preposition comes directly after the preposition, and the OBJECT + PREPOSITION phrase (the Prepositional Phrase or PP) comes before the verb, as in this example:
zhègè xiǎo nǚhái duì wǒ wēixiào.
This little girl smiled at me. (literally: This little girl at me smiled.)
Modifiers such as adverbs are placed either before the PP or after the verb’s object:
wǒ míngtiān huì gēn tā shuō.
I will speak with him tomorrow. (literally: I tomorrow will with him speak.)
Mandarin Preposition Examples
Here are a few sentences with Mandarin prepositions. Please note that there may be more than one translation of English prepositions. Mandarin prepositions have stricter usage than English.
jīntiān wǎnshang wǒ yào gēn tā qù chīfàn.
This evening I am going to have dinner with him. (literally: Today’s evening I am going with him to go and eat food.)
lǐ xiānsheng xiǎng gěi tā de tàitai mǎi yī tiáo jīn xiàngliàn.
Mr. Li is thinking of buying a gold necklace for his wife. (literally: Mr. Li is thinking for his wife to buy a gold necklace.)
tā yǐjīng tì wǒ xiū hǎo le.
She has already fixed it for me. (literally: She already for me fixed it.)
tā yòng mù gùn qiāo wǒ de tóu.
He hit me on the head with a stick. (literally: He with a stick hit my head.)