Comparing 被, 把 and SVO Constructions


One of the very distinctive characteristics of Chinese language is its prepositions, which adapts to a different concept defers to western languages. 被 and 把 are two those.  In this blogpost, we will exam the basic Bèi and  bǎ sentence structures, and compare them with the most common Chinese sentence structure SVO.

The three sentence constructions can all be used to describe similar things, see examples below:

  1. SVO ( subject + verb phrase + object)

Wǒ hē wán le nà píng shuǐ

e.g. 我   喝完了  那瓶水       I’ve drunk that bottle of water.

  2. Subj. + 把 +object +  verb phrase

Wǒ bǎ nà píng shuǐ hē wán le

e.g. 我把那瓶水喝完了I’ve drunk that bottle of water. 

     3. Subj. + 被  + doer  + verb phrase

Nà píng shuǐ bèi wǒ hē wán le

e.g. 那瓶水被我喝完了。    That bottle of water had drunk by me. 

* The object 那瓶水 (that bottle of water) has become the subject. 

However, each of them are also slightly different from each other in terms of where they place their emphasis on. Let’s apply each of these sentences into real life scenarios:

  1. SVO --> What had happened during a certain period of time

Nǐ gāng gāng zuò le shěn me?

A: 你刚刚做了什么?       What have you been doing earlier?

Wǒ gāng gāng hē wán le nà píng shuǐ

B:我刚刚喝完了那瓶水。     I drank that bottle of water earlier. 

  1. 把 --> What influence does the subject has on an action 

Nǐ wèi shěn me jí zhe shàng cè suǒ?

A: 你为什么急着上厕所? Why you are in such a harry to go to the toilet?

yīnwèi wǒ gāng gāng bǎ nà yī zhěng píng shuǐ hē wán le

B:因为我刚刚把那一整瓶水喝完了Because I’ve just drunk that whole bottle of water. 

  1. 被 ——> What has happened to the subject

Nǐ wèi shěn me yòu mǎi le yī píng shuǐ

A:你为什么又买了一瓶水?  Why did you buy another bottle of water?

yīn wèi gāng gāng nà píng shuǐ bèi wǒ hē wán le

B: 因为刚刚那瓶水被我喝完了Because the water in that bottle had all been drunk by me. 

(The bottle is now empty and there has no more water, that is why I need a new one)

* You can also answer with 因为我把刚刚那瓶水喝完了。 However,the reason I need to buy another bottle of water is because I have drunk the water, I have cause the consequence of having no water, and therefore I need a new bottle. 

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