Thursday, August 22, 2013

Level B1 Sentence Structure 是…… 的

A warm reminder: click the video in this post, you will see the pinyin and hear my reading of the example sentences. 

"是……的" is a special sentence structure to emphasize or clarifying part of the detail information. It is used very often in everyday Chinese. One thing worth noting is that this sentence structure is mainly used when the action took place in the past.

The basic rule of how to transfer a normal sentence into a 是……的 sentence structure is: first, find the part that you want to clarify or emphasize, then add 是 before that part and add 的 at the end of the sentence.

Let's get better understanding of this sentence structure through some examples from simple ones to complex ones.

Original sentence:

 He went to Xi'an yesterday.
他昨天去了西安。

Notice that 了 is used to imply the action already completed in the past.

If you want to emphasize that he went to Xi'an yesterday, not another day.  Then the time part of the sentence should be emphasize, so we add 是 in front of 昨天, and add 的 at the end of the sentence. Also, please note that you need to drop the 了 in the original sentence.

昨天去西安
(The meaning more like: It's yesterday when he went to Xi'an)

video

Now I am adding more information into the original sentence:

He went to Xi'an by plane yesterday.
他昨天坐飞机去了西安。


 To emphasize the time part:
昨天坐飞机去西安

 Maybe you want to clarify that he took plane, not train or bus. Then you need to add 是 before the way of transportation and add 的 at the end of the sentence.
他昨天坐飞机去西安

video

Again I am adding more information into the original sentence:

He went to Xi'an by plane yesterday to visit a friend.
他昨天坐飞机去了西安去见一个朋友。


To clarify the time:
昨天坐飞机去西安去见一个朋友

To emphasize the way of transportation:
他昨天坐飞机去西安去见一个朋友

To emphasize the purpose:
他昨天坐飞机去西安去见一个朋友

video

Now it's your turn. Try to do the following exercise. Type your answer as comments to get feedback from me. :)
 She went to Britain to learn English.
   她去英国学英语。
 1. Write your sentence with 是…… 的 structure to emphasize the place is Britain not anywhere else.
2. Write your sentence with 是…… 的 structure to clarify that her purpose is to learn English not any subject else.

Ralted posts:
How to make negative sentence with 是……的 structure
Making question with 是……的structure
More complete information about this sentence structure can be found at Chinese Grammar Wiki.