Chinese Grammar: How to do something with 怎么

怎么 (zěnme) means “how” in Chinese, and it’s not hard to use at all: just put it before a verb.


The Basic “How to Verb” Usage

The question word 怎么 (zěnme) is used to ask how in Chinese. It is inserted in front of the verb that’s being asked about:


Structure: Subj. + 怎么 + Verb + Obj.


Note that the subject can often be omitted from general “how to” questions, and there doesn’t always have to be an object.



你们怎么学中文?(nǐmen zěnme xué Zhōngwén) = How do you study Chinese?

你怎么上班?坐地铁吗?(nǐ zěnme shàngbān? Zuò dìtiě ma) = How do you get to work? By metro?

你知道怎么去外滩吗?(nǐ zhīdào zěnme qù​ Wàitān ma) = Do you know how to get to the Bund?

你怎么知道我喜欢旅行?(nǐ zěnme zhīdào wǒ xǐhuan lǚxíng) = How did you know I like to travel?

我不知道怎么跟女孩子说话。(wǒ bù zhīdào zěnme gēn nǚháizi shuōhuà) = I don’t know how to talk to girls.


Topic First

Starting a “how to” question with the topic at the beginning of the question is very common. That is, the thing being asked about is introduced first, then a question is asked about how to do something involving it.


Structure: Topic + 怎么 + Verb


The object doesn’t have to come after the verb. Sometimes it moves to the front of the question, establishing what the question is going to be about, before getting specific with the “how” question.



芒果怎么吃?(mángguǒ zěnme chī) = How do you eat mangos?

iPad怎么用? (iPad zěnme yòng) = How do you use an iPad?

语法怎么学?(yǔfǎ zěnme xué) = How do you study grammar?

中国菜怎么做?(zhōngguó cài zěnme zuò) = How do you cook Chinese food?

“Apple”怎么说? (“Apple” zěnme shuō) = How do you say apple?


Post time: Jul-09-2020