How to use 把 – What is its English Equivalent?

  • January 23, 2019
 

把 Bǎ is used when sentence subjects perform some kind of action on the sentence object. At first, it can be a bit difficult to understand how to use 把, as it’s a grammar piece not found in Latin-based languages.

How to use 把:

“Subject + 把 + object + verb”

Chinese character

 

Let’s take a look at an example sentence:

把书包放在这里。

Bǎ shū bāo fàng zài zhè lǐ.

Put the backpack here.

 

书包 = the backpack

放 = put

在这里 = here

 

(you) + 把 + backpack + put + here

 

So if “放在这里” already means “put here,” why do we need 把?Even though “Put the backpack here” is the most common English phrasing of this sentence, its not the most common phrasing in Chinese. However, the common Chinese phrasing can actually be compared to another way we could say this sentence in English:

 

“Take the backpack and put it here.”

 

So is there an English equivalent of 把?Here’s our personal tip on how to think of 把:

把 could be loosely understood as the English structure “take… and….”

  • “I’m going to take you and make you into a star.”
  • Take my heart and make it yours.”
  • “I’m going to take this bankrupt business and turn it into a successful company.”

 

 

All of these sentences could be written in Chinese using this structure:

“Subject + 把 + object + verb”

 

So let’s practice:

  1. Put the book on the table. (Take the book and put it on the table)

把书放在桌子上。

Bǎ shū fàng zài zhuō zi shàng。

(You)+    把    +    book(书)    +   put(放) + on the table(在桌子上)

 

 

  1. She folded a piece of paper into a bird. (She took a piece of paper and folded it into a bird)

她把一张纸折成了一只鸟。

Tā bǎ yī zhāng zhǐ zhé chéng le yī zhǐ niǎo。

She(她)   +   把    +   a paper(一张纸)    +   folded into(折成了) +  a bird(一只鸟)

 

There you have it! However, though we’ve compared 把 to the structure “take…. and….”, it’s important to keep in mind that 把 doesn’t mean “take” as in “You should take grocery bags to the grocery store.” For saying “take” as in moving an object from one place to another, a different word is used. 把 cannot act as a verb on its own.

For more uses of 把,click here.

Thinking about studying Chinese in China? Check out our guide on choosing the language school that suits you best- read more here.

 

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