When 给 (gěi) comes directly after verbs in Mandarin Chinese (verb-给 compounds)
The word 给 (gěi) is often used in Chinese as a preposition meaning “for” or “to”. In other words, 给 can be used to talk about doing something for someone or _to _someone. One way to do this is with so-called verb-给 compounds.
All that verb-给 compound means is a verb immediately followed by 给. For example:
In that sentence, you can see 讲给 as a compound verb meaning “to tell to” or “to tell [someone] about”. This is a very common way to talk about doing something for or to someone in Chinese.
Some common verb-给 compounds
There are quite a few verbs in Chinese that often appear in verb-给 compounds. It might be helpful to watch out for them in the course of your studies. We’ve listed some of the most common ones here.
寄给 (jìgěi): to mail to
寄给 is a very easy way to talk about posting something to someone, for example:
递给 (dìgěi): to pass to
This compound is used all the time in everyday life, usually when asking other people to hand something to you. E.g.:
交给 (jiāogěi): to hand in to
If you take Chinese classes, you will almost certainly hear the teacher use 交给. Some examples:
卖给 (màigěi): to sell to
This is a very common way to talk about selling things to people. Examples:
还给 (huángěi): to give back to
This is commonly used to talk about giving things back to people or returning them:
Verb-给 compounds often go with 把 (bǎ)
You might have noticed that a lot of the verb-给 compounds in the sentences above appeared in a 把 (bǎ) structure. This is because the 把 structure is used to talk about the disposal of the object (what happened to the object in the end).
If the object is getting mailed, passed around, handed in, sold or returned, then it is being directly affected and so the 把 structure is a good choice.
The structure for this is:
Don’t worry if you don’t know the difference between direct and indirect objects. Just note that there are two objects in this structure.
A few examples of verb-给 compounds in 把 structures:
A more common structure with 给
Note that 给 can also be used as a preposition without being in a verb-给 compound. This is actually more common. We’re explaining verb-给 compounds here because they’re important to know about, but there’s actually a more common way to arrange these sentences.
The structure for this is:
Again, don’t worry if you don’t know the difference between direct and indirect objects. What matters is that there are two objects here. Let’s have a look at some examples for this common structure:
Also remember that sentences with 给 are also commonly expressed using 把, as described above.
More B1 articles
- Understanding 把 (bǎ) in ten minutes B1
- How to use 碰 (pèng), 碰见 (pèngjiàn) and 碰上 (pèngshàng) in Chinese grammar B1
- 接 (jiē) and 接到 (jiēdào) in Chinese grammar: answering and receiving B1