Learn Chinese Location Words

Posted by Fifi Yang on April 5, 2016

location in Chinese

Do you feel confused when you ask or give directions in Chinese? Don't worry, after today's article, you will be clear about the usage of the Chinese location words.

1. A list of the basic Chinese location words:

东 (dōnɡ) - East

南 (nán) - South

西 (xī) - West

北 (běi) - North

上 (shànɡ) - On

下 (xià) - Under

左 (zuǒ) - Left

右 (yòu) - Right

前 (qián) - Front

后 (hòu) - Back

里 (lǐ) - In

外 (wài) – Out

中 (zhōnɡ) – Middle

旁 (pánɡ) – Beside

对面 (duìmiàn) – Opposite

These words are often used with suffix such as "边" or "面". For example, "在东面" or "在东边", both means "in the east". Please take note that "中" can not use with "边" or "面"; "旁" goes only with "边", "在中间" means "in the middle"; "在旁边" means "beside, next to".

2. Usage of Chinese location words

After we know several basic Chinese location words, let's learn how to use them in the Chinese sentences. When using them in a sentence, Chinese location words act like nouns. They must be used as the subject, object, attributive or the center-word, e.g.

学校在银行西面。(xué xiào zài yín hánɡ xī miàn.)

The school is in the west of the bank.

幼儿园里面有很多小朋友。(yòu ér yuán lǐ miàn yǒu hěn duō xiǎo pénɡ you.)

There are many children in the kindergarten.

Here are some basic usage of Chinese location words:

Noun (+ 的) + location word:

When a location word is used as the center-word, "的" is mostly not added.

学生的后面 (xué shenɡ de hòu miɑn)

公园的外面 (ɡōnɡ yuán de wài miàn)

Outside the park.

超市的对面 (chāo shì de duì miàn)

Opposite the supermarket.

Location word + 的 + noun (here the 的 is mandatory).

When a location word is used as an attributive, a "的" is added after it.

后面的老师 (hòu miɑn de lǎo shī)

The teacher which is behind.

对面的房子 (duì miàn de fánɡ zi)

The opposite house

外面的桌子 (wài miàn de zhuō zi)

The table outside.


When 上边/面, 下边/面, 里边/面, 外边/面and 旁边 are modified by other nouns, the character 边/面 can be omitted. But never 左, 右, 对, 中 + suffix, the suffix can be omitted if 的 is omitted. For example:

椅子的下面 = 椅子下 (yǐ zi de xià miɑn = yǐ zi xià)

门的后面 = 门后 (mén de hòu miɑn = mén hòu)

超市的前面 = 超市前 (chāo shì de qián miɑn = chāo shì qián)

车子的里面 = 车子里 (chē zi de lǐ miàn = chē zi lǐ)

书桌的下面 = 书桌下 (shū zhuō de xià miɑn = shū zhuō xià)

3. Exercises

Do you have a basic understanding of Chinese location words? Let's do some exercises to test your skills. Translate the following phrases into Chinese. Leave your answer in the comment zone.

Across from the supermarket

The house in the front

The cup on the top

The picture below

The people inside

The desk in the middle

The table outside

Under the chair

Behind the house

If you have any questions, welcome to book a free trial class and discuss with the professional Chinese teacher!

About The Author

Fifi Yang

Fifi Yang is a Chinese learning teacher at Hanbridge Mandarin. Having spent a great number of years learning French, Fifi understands the challenges of learning a language. She puts this experience to good use while preparing and delivering classes to her students.

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