Chinese Language Blog

Chinese Directional Complements (Part Two) Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

The last post talked about Chinese directional complements, a lesson I’ll continue today with some more examples and practice. Go back and read that first post if you haven’t to get caught up. Let’s start with the answers to the practice questions I gave:

Practice Question Answers

1. Your friend is outside of your door and you invite them in.

Answer: 进来 (jìn lái) – This basically means “come in,” so it makes the most sense in this example.

Example: 你好,进来吧!
nǐ hǎo, jìn lái ba!
“Hello, come on in!”


2. You are at the bottom of the hill but your friend is already on top.

Answer: This depends on who is talking. You would want to say 上去 (shàng qù), meaning “go up,” and your friend would say 上来 (shàng lái) meaning “come up.”

Example: 他们已经在上面,咱们快上去.
tā men yǐ jīng zài shàng miàn, zán men kuài shàng qù
“They’re already on top, let’s get up there quickly.”

3. Your cat is up on the closet where he shouldn’t be.



Answer: 下来 (xià lái), meaning “come down” is best for this naughty kitty.

Example: 小猫你不可以在这里,下来吧.
xiǎo māo nǐ bù kě yǐ zài zhè lǐ, xià lái ba
“Kitty you can’t be here, come down!”


4. Your father has returned from his business trip.

Answer: Since your dad has “come back,” it’s best to use 回来 (huí lái).

Example: 妈妈看,爸爸回来了.
mā mā kàn, bà ba huí lái le
“Look mom, dad has come back.”


5. Your friend is not at the party and you’re talking on the phone.

Answer: You’d probably tell your friend to “come here” to the party – 过来 (guò lái).

Example: 你为什么还在家里?这个晚会特别好玩,你快过来吧.
nǐ wèi shén me hái zài jiā lǐ? zhè ge wǎn huì tè bié hǎo wán, nǐ kuài guò lái ba
“Why are you still at home? This party is really fun, hurry up and come here.”

More Practice

Hopefully now you have a better understanding of these directional complements and how to use them. Now I’ll give you each of the directional complements we’ve been studying and provide a situation. See if you can use them to make a full sentence in Chinese matching the situation:

  • to come down (下来 – xià lái) = Your friend is upstairs in their apartment but you don’t want to go up.
  • to go down (下去 – xià qù) = You are on top of a hill you’ve hiked up but it’s getting dark.
  • to come up (上来 – shàng lái) = There’s a nice view from the roof and you want your friends to come and see it.
  • to go up (上去 – shàng qù) = Your company is having a meeting a few floors above your office.
  • to come in (进来 – jìn lái) = Someone is knocking at your door.
  • to go in (进去 – jìn qù) = It’s very cold outside and there’s a shopping mall nearby.
  • to come out (出来 – chū lái) = Your friend is still in their room and you want to leave soon.
  • to go out (出去 – chū qù) = It’s boring sitting around the house when it’s such a nice day.
  • to come back (回来 – huí lái) = Your classmate is leaving on vacation and you want to know when they’re going to return.
  • to go back (回去 – huí qù) = You’re in Shanghai on a business trip but will go back to Beijing the next day.
  • to come over (过来 – guò lái) = You’re looking at clothes in a store and you want your friend to come see the shirt you’re looking at.
  • to go over (过去 – guò qù) = There’s a lake on the other side of the park you’d like to see.
  • to get up/to rise (起来 – qǐ lái) = It’s 7AM and your child needs to get up for school.

Spend some time making sentences for those examples, write them down, save them, and study them. Also, do your best to listen for these directional complements in daily conversations – people are using them all the time. Soon enough, you’ll be able to incorporate them and improve your fluency in Chinese greatly.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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