The particle 过 (guò) is used to talk about past experiences or past actions in Chinese grammar. It is placed immediately after the verb to indicate that that verb was done or experienced in the past. In English, the equivalent would simply be “have”, e.g. in “I have done that”, “I have eaten”, “He has seen it” and so on.
As you can see above, these two particles are fairly similar. But what are the important differences? Let’s have a look at a few here.
The particle 呢 has more uses than 吗, but we’ll look at the most important one here: forming queries, or asking bounce-back questions.
As mentioned above, 吗 is a question particle that is used to turn statements into yes-no questions. What exactly does that mean? A yes-no question is also known as a “binary question” or a “polar question”. This simply means that it’s a question that can only be answered with “yes” or “no”. In other words, it’s not an open question.
The particles 呢 (ne) and 吗 (ma) are extremely common in Chinese. This article explains the two particles for beginners.
Finally, we come to the most general rule about Chinese grammar. One of the joys of studying Chinese is that on the whole it’s a very logical, consistent language. This is very true in Chinese vocabulary, as you can usually see very clearly the logic behind most words. It’s also true in Chinese grammar rules, which tend to be consistent and reusable once you’ve learned them.
Another big difference between European languages and Chinese is aspect and tense. European languages usually indicate both of these things in a sentence, whereas Chinese tends to only indicates aspect.
This is a rule that English-speakers often find hard to get used to. Chinese is topic prominent. This means that it puts the thing the sentence is about first. English is subject prominent, which means that it puts the doer of an action (the subject) in a sentence first.
Unlike in European languages, words in Chinese do not change. They have a fixed form that is the same no matter what they’re used for or where the appear in a sentence. In Chinese, you don’t conjugate verbs and you don’t make adjectives agree. According to Chinese grammar rules, a word is a word.
Chinese grammar rule #1: What precedes modifies what follows This rule sounds a little bit complicated when you first see it, but it’s actually quite straightforward. It simply means that modifiers come before the thing they modify. The Chinese language, right through from the written classical language to the modern spoken vernacular, has always had this rule.