notecards with various chinese verbs

Common Chinese Verbs for Beginner Mandarin Learners

You’re about to find out exactly what makes Mandarin one of the easiest languages out there.

Of course, if you’ve already started learning the language, you know how surprisingly simple Chinese can be. That extends to verbs, too!

And it’s so helpful to have a good arsenal of verbs in any language—you certainly can’t make Chinese sentences without verbs, after all.

So let’s go over some of the most common Chinese verbs (plus example sentences!) and how to use them.


1. (ài) — to love

我爱你!(wǒ ài nǐ!) — I love you!

2. (kàn) — to see/watch/look

我在看电影。(wǒ zài kàn diàn yǐng.) — I am watching a movie.

3. (qù) — to go

我要去北京。(wǒ yào qù běi jīng.) — I am going to Beijing.

4. (lái) — to come

来这儿吧!(lái zhèr ba!) — Come here!

5. (yǒu ) — to have

我有一个好朋友。(wǒ yǒu yí gè hǎo péng yǒu.) — I have one good friend.

6. (yào) — to want

我要这条裙子。(wǒ yào zhè tiáo qún zi.) — I want this skirt.

7. (zuò) — to do

我在做作业。(wǒ zài zuò zuò yè.) — I am doing homework.

8. (xiě) — to write

我在写汉字。(wǒ zài xiě hàn zì.) — I am writing Chinese characters.

9. 穿 (chuān) — to wear

我穿我妹妹的衣服。(wǒ chuān wǒ mèi mei de yī fu.) — I wear my sister’s clothes.

10.  (tīng) — to hear/listen

爸爸在听广播。(bà ba zài tīng guǎng bò.) — Dad is listening to the radio.

11. (shuō) — to speak

我跟老师说中文。(wǒ gēn lǎo shī shuō zhōng wén.) — I speak Chinese with the teacher.

12. (wèn) — to ask

 我想问你一件事。(wǒ xiǎng wèn nǐ yí jiàn shì.) — I want to ask you one thing.

13. (chī) — to eat

我每天都吃早饭。(wǒ měi tiān dōu chī zǎo fàn.) — I eat breakfast every day.

14. (hē) — to drink

妈妈在喝茶。(mā ma zài hē chá.) — Mom is drinking tea.

15. (mǎi) — to buy

我买了水果。(wǒ mǎi le shuǐ guǒ.) — I bought fruit.

16. (yòng) — to use

请用黑色的笔。(qǐng yòng hēi sè de bǐ.) — Please use a black pen.

17. 游泳 (yóu yǒng) — to swim

我不会游泳。(wǒ bú huì yóu yǒng.) — I can’t swim.

18. 学习 (xué xí) — to study/learn

(wǒ xué xí de bú shì xī bān yá yǔ, ér shì fǎ yǔ.)
I am not studying Spanish but French.

19. 害怕 (hài pà) — to be afraid

我害怕狗。(wǒ hài pà gǒu.) — I am afraid of dogs.

20. 跳舞 (tiào wǔ) — to dance

这个周末我要跳舞。(zhè ge zhōu mò wǒ yào tiào wǔ.) — This weekend I want to dance.

21. 准备 (zhǔn bèi) — to prepare/get ready

(míng tiān wǒ men yì qǐ qù běi jīng. nǐ zhǔn bèi hǎo le ma?)
Tomorrow we are going together to Beijing. Are you ready?

22. 喜欢 (xǐ huān) — to like

我喜欢你的朋友。(wǒ xǐ huān nǐ de péng yǒu.) — I like your friend.

23. 散步 (sàn bù) — to take a walk

我的外婆每天都去散步。(wǒ de wài pó měi tiān dōu qù sàn bù.) — My grandmother takes a walk every day.

24. 洗澡 (xǐ zǎo) — to take a shower/bath

我已经洗澡了。(wǒ yǐ jīng xǐ zǎo le.) — I’ve already had a bath.

25. 走路 (zǒu lù) — to walk (go on foot)

你们是坐车去还是走路去?(nǐ men shì zuò chē qù hái shì zǒu lù qù?) — Are you going by car or on foot?

26. 跑步 (pǎo bù) — to run

我很累,不想跑步。(wǒ hěn lèi, bù xiǎng pǎo bù.) — I am very tired. I don’t want to run.

27. 开始 (kāi shǐ) — to start

我们开始吧!(wǒ men kāi shǐ ba!) — Let’s get started! / Here we go!

28. 明白 (míng bai) — to understand

我不明白。(wǒ bù míng bai.) — I don’t understand.

29. 知道 (zhī dào) — to know

我知道学校在哪里。(wǒ zhī dào xué xiào zài nǎ lǐ.) — I know where the school is.

30. 觉得 (jué de) — to feel

我觉得冷。(wǒ jué de lěng.) — I feel cold.

Where to Place Chinese Verbs Within Sentences

To be able to express statements of action, you should keep in mind the basic structure for any sentence in Chinese:

 Subject + Verb + Object

A very important aspect of this structure is the fact that the Subject uses the Verb to act upon the Object, like so:

妈妈牛肉(mā ma chī niú ròu.) — Mother eats beef.

Makes sense, right? If we switched the Subject’s position with the Object’s, we’d get a sentence that looks like this:

牛肉妈妈(niú ròu chī mā mā.) — Beef eats Mother.

That’s not quite right, obviously. So, the noun that comes after the Verb will be the target of its action.

Easy and logical, no?

Chinese Verb Conjugations

In Chinese, verbs don’t have conjugations.

The basic form of any verb is the infinitive, and that’s what we could say is used in Chinese. Every Chinese verb can be considered an infinitive because it doesn’t have any conjugation, and it certainly doesn’t change according to the person or number of people performing the action.

Further, the forms of Chinese verbs never change, regardless of present, past or future tense. That’s good news, because it means you won’t have to memorize different forms for participles or tenses.

Of course, there are some rules about how to express the fact that an action already took place or will happen in the future. When you’re just starting out, it’s best to keep things super simple, and to see lots of examples of verbs in use. You can do this on FluentU, which has hundreds of videos to show you how native Chinese speakers use verbs in context.

Simple Verbs vs. Compound Verbs in Chinese

You may have noticed that there are two types of Chinese verbs on our list:

  • simple verbs, which are made up of only one character, and
  • compound verbs, which are made up of two characters.

Simple verbs are just that—very simple to use. Put the word into the sentence as your verb, and you’re good to go.

Compound verbs are a bit more complex. These character groups can form a single word in some situations, but they can also be separated in other situations.

Why can compound verbs be split? Well, sometimes the characters within the compound verb all mean the same thing. In these cases, you can choose to use the entire verb or just one of the characters (usually the first character), and they’ll express the same meaning.

For example, you can use either of the following sentences to mean “I am learning Chinese”:

学习汉语。(wǒ xué xí hàn yǔ.)

汉语。(wǒ xué hàn yǔ.)

Some compound verbs can also be split to give more information, like quantifiers. For instance, both of the following examples separate the compound verb 跑步, and both sentences mean “Yesterday I ran for two hours”:

我昨天了两个小时(wǒ zuó tiān pǎo le liǎng gè xiǎo shí bù.)

我昨天了两个小时。(wǒ zuó tiān pǎo le liǎng gè xiǎo shí.)

It’s probably a good idea to use the entire compound verb at the beginning of your Chinese studies, though. That’s because splitting compound verbs is typically only possible when both characters have the same meaning.

Once you have more experience with Chinese verbs, you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to experiment with them more!


Now you can use these common Chinese verbs to start making some sentences. So, how about you go out there and put the skills you’ve just learned to the test?

Don’t be scared to make mistakes. We’re all human, and mistakes are good, because you always learn from them!

And One More Thing...

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FluentU has a wide range of contemporary videos—like dramas, TV shows, commercials and music videos.

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