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Level 3 Lesson 26.2 – 他偷东西的时候被警察发现了。

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GRAMMAR: 被字句 (bèizìjù ▸ The 被 Sentences)

In this HSK 3 video lesson we'll learn about 被字句 (bèizìjù ▸ The 被 Sentences), compare 被字句 with 把字句, and learn about 被 vs. 叫/让. And we'll also learn how and when to use a 被字句,

  • 被字句 (bèizìjù ▸ The 被 Sentences)
  • 被字句 and 把字句
  • 被 vs. 叫/让
  • When to use 被字句

 

GRAMMAR


Grammar 1. 被字句 

Bèizìjù ▸ The 被 Sentences

When we say a 被字句 in Chinese, we follow this structure:

A 被 B + Verb

the one that receives the action   the one that performs the action action  
Wǒ de qiánbāo
我的钱包
My wallet
bèi

“by”
xiǎotōu
小偷
(the) thief
tōu le
偷了
(was) stolen
.

.
Subject Prep. Prepositional Object Verb Predicate
Adverbial

Below are more example sentences:

  • Wǒ de qiánbāo bèi xiǎotōu tōu le.
    我的钱包被小偷偷了。
    My wallet (-) “by” (the) thief (-) (was) stolen.
  • Píjiǔ bèi Lǎo Mǎ hē wán le.
    啤酒被老马喝完了。
    (The) beef (-) “by” Old Ma (-) (has been) finish-drinking.
  • Nà ge shūbāo bèi biérén mǎi le.
    那个书包被别人买了。
    That “ge” (of) school-bag (-) “by” other people (-) (has been) bought.

 

Sometimes in a 被字句, the one that performs the action (the Prepositional Object after 被) can be omitted, however 被 can never be omitted. In this case we follow this structure:

A 被 + Verb

the one that receives the action 被字句 Indicator action  
Wǒ de qiánbāo
我的钱包
My wallet
bèi

“by”
tōu le
偷了
(was) stolen
.

.
Subject Prep. Verb Predicate

So we can also say:

  • Wǒ de qiánbāo bèi tōu le.
    我的钱包被偷了。
    My wallet (-) (was) stolen.

Below are more example sentences that show how "the Prepositional Object after 被" can be omitted:

  • Zhè jiàn shìqing bèi (dàjiā) fāxiàn le ma?
    这件事情被大家发现了吗?
    (Has) this “jian” (of) thing (-) “by” everyone (-) (been) found-out?
  • Zhè jiàn shìqing bèi fāxiàn le ma?
    这件事情发现了吗?
    (Has) this “jian” (of) thing “by” (been) found-out?

 

  • Wǒ gěi nǐ jì de lǐwù bèi tāmen sòng cuò le.
    我给你寄的礼物被他们送错了。
    (The) gift (that) I send you (-) “by” them (-) (has been) delivered-mistakenly.
  • Wǒ gěi nǐ jì de lǐwù bèi sòng cuò le.
    我给你寄的礼物送错了。
    (The) gift (that) I send you (has been) delivered-mistakenly.

 

Grammar 2. 被字句和把字句

Bèizìjù hé Bǎzìjù▸ The 被 Sentences and The 把 Sentences

We have learned 把字句 (Bǎzìjù ▸ The 把 Sentences) before.

  See also 把字句 (Bǎzìjù ▸The 把 Sentences) Part 1.
  See also 把字句 (Bǎzìjù ▸The 把 Sentences) Part 2.

A 把字句 can be converted into a 被字句, and a 被字句 can also be converted into a 把字句. And in both cases, the conversion does not change the general meaning of the sentence.

For example.

  • 把字句
    Jǐngchá bǎ lǎorén sòng jin le yīyuàn.
    警察把老人送进了医院。
    (The) policeman (-) “ba{indicating the handling of}” (the) old-man (-) send-(with the result of)-entering (the) hospital.
  • 被字句
    Lǎo rén bèi jǐngchá sòng jin le yīyuàn.
    老人被警察送进了医院。
    (The) old-man (was) send-(with the result of)-entering (the) hospital “by” (the) policeman.

 

  • 把字句
    Gēge bǎ nà pǐ mǎ qí zǒu le.
    哥哥把那匹马骑走了。
    (The) big brother (-) “ba{indicating the handling of}” that “pi” (of) horse (-) rode-away.
  • 被字句
    Nà pǐ mǎ bèi gēge qí zǒu le.
    那匹马被哥哥骑走了。
    That “pi” (of) horse (has been) ridden-away “by” (the) big brother.

 

Grammar 3. 被 vs. 叫/让

  See also 使/叫/让.

In a 被字句, we can also replace 被 with 叫 or 让. So we can follow all of the three structures below:

  • A 被 B + Verb
  • A 叫 B + Verb
  • A 让 B + Verb

The difference is that:

  • 被 is netural, it can be used in formal written language as well as casual colloquil language
  • 叫 and 让 are very relaxed and colloquial.

It’s okay if we decide to only use 被 as long as we can understand when other people choose to use 叫 or 让.

Let's see some example sentences:

  • Zúqiú bèi/jiào/ràng nà ge háizi tī huài le.
    足球被那个孩子踢坏了。← netural
    足球叫那个孩子踢坏了。← colloquial
    足球让那个孩子踢坏了。← colloquial
    (The) soccer-ball (was) kicked-(with the result of)-(being)-broken.
  • Tā zuò de huài shì yǐjīng bèi/jiào/ràng jǐngchá zhīdào le.
    他做的坏事已经被警察知道了。← netural
    他做的坏事已经叫警察知道了。← colloquial
    他做的坏事已经让警察知道了。← colloquial
    (The) bad things (that) he did already (have been) known “by” (the) police.
  • Wǒ de màozi bèi dà fēng guā zǒu le.
    我的帽子被大风刮走了。← netural
    我的帽子叫大风刮走了。← colloquial
    我的帽子让大风刮走了。← colloquial
    My hat (has been) blown-away “by” (the) big wind.

 

Grammar 4. When To Use A 被字句

The following sentences are all 主题评论句 (Zhǔtí Pínglùn Jù ▸ Topic-Comment Sentences) that have a 受事主语 (Shòushì Zhǔyǔ ▸ Subject that receives an action):

  See also 主题评论句 1; 主题评论句 2.
  • Dàngāo wǒ dài lai le.
    蛋糕我带来了。
    Cake (-) I brought-coming-(towards-here).
  • Chá pào hǎo le.
    茶泡好了。
    Tea (has been) soaked(/made)-well.
  • Zhàopiàn hé shìpín dōu pāi le.
    照片和视频都拍了。
    Photos and videos (have) all (been) taken.

But none of the above sentences are 被字句, because 被字句 is used when certain information needs to be highlighted. Let's look at the structure of a 被字句 again:

the one that receives the action   the one that performs the action
(can be omitted sometimes)
action  
A ( B ) Verb.
Subject Prep. Prepositional Object Verb Predicate
Adverbial

被字句 highlights the following information:

  • an action has been performed to the Subject
  • the one that performs the action is responsible for the change or the result
    • but it can be omitted when it’s not important or unknown
  • a change has happened because of the action, or a result has been caused by the action
  • the change or result is usually (although not always) unpleasant or damaging

For example,

  • 主题评论句
    Píjiǔ yǐjīng hē wán le.
    啤酒已经喝完了。← more neutral; an objective fact
    (The) beer (has) already (been) finished-drinking.
    被字句
    Píjiǔ yǐjīng bèi hē wán le.
    啤酒已经被喝完了。← the speaker probably does not like the fact that all the beer has been drunk
    (The) beer (has) already (been) finished-drinking.

 

  • 主题评论句
    Píjiǔ tā hē wán le.
    啤酒他喝完了。← more neutral; an objective fact
    (The) beer (-) he (has) already finished-drinking.
    被字句
    Píjiǔ bèi tā hē wán le.
    啤酒被他喝完了。← unpleasant fact; seemingly "他(he)" is to blame
    (The) beer (has) already (been) finished-drinking “by” him.

 

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