Chinese grammar, usage of zai – as preposition for location, form question sentence, show continuous action as an adverbial adjunct; use zai bu zai to form question, how to negate zai, ne as continuous action maker. Jackie Chan Aspiration in my chest and Tarzan, Usher You’ll Be In My Heart

cooltext626690216 Chinese grammar, usage of zai   as preposition for location, form question sentence,  show  continuous action as an adverbial adjunct; use zai bu zai to form question, how to negate zai, ne as continuous action maker. Jackie Chan Aspiration in my chest and Tarzan, Usher Youll Be In My Heart
cooltext626680174 Chinese grammar, usage of zai   as preposition for location, form question sentence,  show  continuous action as an adverbial adjunct; use zai bu zai to form question, how to negate zai, ne as continuous action maker. Jackie Chan Aspiration in my chest and Tarzan, Usher Youll Be In My Heart
Don’t worry, your eyes are fine, and your computer is not burning a hole either. The jumping fire on the character zai 在 just a little reminder to tell you that zai4 can be used to show continuous motion as the jumping fire up and down, up and down … Cast some fire on your mind next time when you read the word zai ….

In Chinese language, the particle zai4 在 has several functions.

Zai4 functions as a preposition word.

A preposition word is a word that connects a noun, pronoun, or phrase to other words in a sentence, and it can indicate the following relationships: direction (to, toward, through); place (at, by, on); purpose (for); source (from, out of); and time (at, before, on).

cooltext626212706 Chinese grammar, usage of zai   as preposition for location, form question sentence,  show  continuous action as an adverbial adjunct; use zai bu zai to form question, how to negate zai, ne as continuous action maker. Jackie Chan Aspiration in my chest and Tarzan, Usher Youll Be In My Heart

Zai4 is most often used to indicate location. When used before a place word, zai4 means in, on, or at.
Location – Zai4
For example:

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Ta1 **zài4** xue2 xiao4.
他**在**学校。
He is **at** school.

Shu1 **zai4** zhuo1 shang4.
书**在**桌上。
The book is **on** the table.

Yi1 fu2 **zai4** bi4 chu2 li3.
衣服 **在** 壁橱里。
The cloth is **in** the closet.

If you want to negate the sentence, you just need to place 不 bu4 before zai4 在. Remember that 不 bu4 has two tone change rules.When bu is in front of fourth tone word, bu4 will be changed to second tone bu2. When bu4 got placed before other tones (1, 2 or 3 tones), it remains the fourth tone bu4.

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Ta1 **bu2 zai4** xue2 xiao4.
他**不在**学校。
He is not **at** school.

Shu1 **bu2 zai4** zhuo1 shang4.
书**不在**桌上。
The book is not **on** the table.

Yi1 fu2 ** bu2 zai4** bi4 chu2 li3.
衣服 **不在** 壁橱里。
The cloth is not in the closet.

cooltext626213682 Chinese grammar, usage of zai   as preposition for location, form question sentence,  show  continuous action as an adverbial adjunct; use zai bu zai to form question, how to negate zai, ne as continuous action maker. Jackie Chan Aspiration in my chest and Tarzan, Usher Youll Be In My Heart

Use 在 zai4 to form question sentences.

To form yes or no question sentences with question marker 吗 ma5.

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Shu1 **zai4** zhuo1 shang4 **ma5**?
书**在**桌上吗?
Is the book **on** the table?

or you can negate the question as
Shu1 **bu2 zai4** zhuo1 shang4 **ma5**?
书**不在**桌上吗?
Isn’t the book **on** the table?

or take away the question marker ma5 and use 在不在 zai4 bu2 zai4 in front of the noun or pronoun to form question sentences.
Shu1 **zai4 bu2 zai4** zhuo1 shang4 ?
书**在不在**桌上?
Is the book **on** the table or not?

Form open end question sentences with question marker 呢 ne5.

Ni3 zai4 chi1 shen2 me5 ** ne5 **? (The answers can be many, so it is called open-ended questions.)

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你在吃什么**呢**?
What are you eating?

Form open-ended question sentences with question pronoun na3 li5 哪裡

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Bi3 zai4 **na3 li5**?
Where is the pen?
笔在**哪裡**?

cooltext6262171861 Chinese grammar, usage of zai   as preposition for location, form question sentence,  show  continuous action as an adverbial adjunct; use zai bu zai to form question, how to negate zai, ne as continuous action maker. Jackie Chan Aspiration in my chest and Tarzan, Usher Youll Be In My Heart

Zai functions as a preposition to indicate where an action takes place:

subject + zai4 + place + verb

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他们**在**客厅吃东西。
Ta1 men5 **zai4** ke4 ting1 chi1 dong1 xi5.
They are eating **in** the living room.

cooltext626219666 Chinese grammar, usage of zai   as preposition for location, form question sentence,  show  continuous action as an adverbial adjunct; use zai bu zai to form question, how to negate zai, ne as continuous action maker. Jackie Chan Aspiration in my chest and Tarzan, Usher Youll Be In My Heart

Zai functions as an adverbial adjunct or complement when it got placed in front of a verb it modifies to show continuous action of that moment. This usage of zai is like the -ing suffix in English ( at V+ ing”). There is an alternative to zai4 — zheng4 zai4 正在.

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他们**在**跳舞。
Ta1 men5** zai4 **tiao4 wu3.
They are dancing.

她**在**睡觉。
Ta1 **zai4 **shui4 jiao4.
She is sleeping.

To negate the verb, you can use 不 bu2 or 没 mei2 (mei2 you3 没有). The verb 有 you3 is always negated with 没 mei2 (never say 不有 bu4 you3).

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Ta1 men5 **bu2 zai4** tiao4 wu3.
They are not dancing.
他们**不在**跳舞。

Ta1 **mei2 zai4** shui4 jiao4.
She is not sleeping.
她**没在**睡觉。

In the usage of showing continuous action, there is an alternative to zai4 — zheng4 zai4 正在.

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Ta1 men5 **zheng4 zai4** tiao4 wu3.
They are dancing.
他们**正在**跳舞。

Ta1 **zheng4 zai4** shui4 jiao4.
She is sleeping.
她**正在**睡觉。

cooltext626224513 Chinese grammar, usage of zai   as preposition for location, form question sentence,  show  continuous action as an adverbial adjunct; use zai bu zai to form question, how to negate zai, ne as continuous action maker. Jackie Chan Aspiration in my chest and Tarzan, Usher Youll Be In My Heart

The modal particle ne5 呢 can also be added to the end of the sentence for the same purpose. So the previous sentences can also be:

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Ta1 men5 **zai4** tiao4 wu3** ne5**.
They are dancing.
他们**在**跳舞**呢**。

Ta1 **zai4** shui4 jiao4 **ne5**.
She is sleeping.
她**在**睡觉**呢**。

or you can omit zai4

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Ta1 men5 tiao4 wu3 **ne5**.
They are dancing.
他们跳舞**呢**。

Ta1 shui4 jiao4 **ne5**.
She is sleeping.
她睡觉**呢**。

Now, it is time to find a song. I went to my song list first, and yes, and I found one:) Jackie Chan (Cheng Long) 成龙 – 壮志在我胸 Aspirations in my chest Zhuang zhi zai wo xiong. Jackie Chan is very silly and funny in this video.

If you like to learn how to sing it, you can check out the lyrics, pinyin and English translation at Jackie Chan (Cheng Long) 成龙 – 壮志在我胸 Aspirations in my chest Zhuang zhi zai wo xiong

It is easy to find a preposition word in English songs (there are so many preposition words in English), but this one is really special and with two versions! Why I chose this song? Heart is in the chest, so these two songs and Jackie Chan’s aspiration in my chest are somehow related in two ways — all have preposition word in, and both have something to do with chest.

Usher – You’ll Be In My Heart (Official Lyrics)

and
the original–You’ll Be In My Heart (With Lyrics)-Tarzan and Phil Collins

This entry was posted in Chinese grammar, English song, One Chinese sentence a day and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Chinese grammar, usage of zai – as preposition for location, form question sentence, show continuous action as an adverbial adjunct; use zai bu zai to form question, how to negate zai, ne as continuous action maker. Jackie Chan Aspiration in my chest and Tarzan, Usher You’ll Be In My Heart

  1. PJ says:

    Thanks for for post. I really like them.
    In this one i think there is a typo . You say in english dancing but the characters are watching TV instead. (in Zai as adverbial adjunt). It’s not really important but i wanted to let you know. Imagine a copy paste problem… :-)
    Thaks again for your blog. Regards form Spain,

    • Shu says:

      Hi PJ,
      Thank you for pointing out the paste and copy mistake:) I changed my phrases, but I forgot to change all of them, that is why this happened. Sometimes I wrote posts very late at night, and my focus was not so well; this is one of the reasons too. I corrected them, thanks.
      Thank you for visiting, and I am glad that you enjoyed the post.Let me know if you have any question about learning Chinese. Have a wonderful week there and have fun moments and moments ….

  2. Grace says:

    I’d like to contribute one more piece of the usage of “在”:

    appears in a compound word of “存在(cun2 zai4)”, meaning “existence”:

    他的存在让她感到不舒服。
    The existence of him makes her feel uncomfortable.

    • Shu says:

      Hi Grace,
      This post is an analysis about using zai as the preposition word and as the continuous action marker, and it is not meant to include those zai phrases. There are a lot of zai phrases: xian zai 现在, cun zai存在, tong zai 同在, reng2 zai 仍在, even suo zai duo you所在多有, but they are not what the post intends to cover though.
      Thank you for the visiting and especially your time writing the comment. Have a wonderful week to you.

  3. Demor says:

    Wow it is surprising how many uses zai4 has ranging from asking a question to telling where something is. Can zai4 be used for two different reasons in one sentence suck as: she can not sleep because she at her friends house; or is better to use a different word to get across the same meaning.

    • Shu says:

      She can not sleep because she at her friend’s house. In Chinese we would say: Yin4 wei4 ta1 zai4 ta1 peng2 you3 jia1, suo3 yi3 ta1 shui4 bu4 zhao2 jiao4. Yin wei (because, conjunction) ta (pronoun, she) zai (preposition, at) ta1 peng2 you3 (her friend) jia (noun, house), suo3 yi3 (conjunction, therefore), ta1 (pronoun, she) sui4 bu4 zhao2 jiao4 (resultative complement, could not fall into sleep).因为她在她的朋友家,所以她睡不着觉。This sentence doesn’t call for two zai4 usage.
      If you want to say she is dancing at her friend’s house, then you can say ta1 zai4 ta1 de5 peng2 you3 jia1 tiao4 wu3. You don’t need to say ta1 zai4 ta1 de5 peng2 you3 jia1 **zai** tiao4 wu3. In one sentence, if there is a zai used as preposition word and another zai functions as adverbial adjunct to show continuous motion, then the adverbial adjunt zai most of time is omitted, just like the sentence I gave you . Let me know if you have questions.

  4. Shi Luo says:

    Hello. This is very helpful, especially for future references.
    Also, it’s so cold today, it’s ridiculous.

    • Shu says:

      Put more layers on, don’t catch a cold. Work on your two page report. Thank you for visiting.

  5. Rory says:

    我觉得信息很有用。“在” 的多种用途!我用这个字造个句子: 我们在打的去饭馆呢。我的句子好了吗?

  6. Shu says:

    Rory,
    我们在打的去饭馆——这是什么意思呢???请说明!

  7. Rory says:

    对不起!I must have copy-pasted this wrong! I have to plug each character individually into a translater, and then copy-paste each character into a sentence, and I somehow mixed them up and deleted things! I meant to say – 我们在餐馆,在打架呢。

    我写错了!

    • Shu says:

      Rory,
      It is ok. Thank you for the reply:)
      我们在餐馆,在打架呢。This sentence is fine. 我们正在餐馆打架呢。is another way to say what you mean.
      “我的句子好了吗?” You don’t need the le5 there. 我的句子好吗 will do.
      不错,你的句子非常好:)See you at Chinese club time.

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