Direction Complements: How to Use them in Chinese

Direction Complements: How to Use them in Chinese
Direction Complements in Chinese: What is a complement?

Before we get into what directional complements in Chinese are, let’s talk about what a complement is in the first place. In grammar, a complement is a word or phrase that “completes”. We use them to provide additional meaning or information. Complements are usually attached to a verb or an adjective. Be careful though, complements are not compliment.

Direction Complements in Chinese: So, what is it?

A direction complement is a complement that gives us additional information about the direction and movement of a verb. It’s very useful in Chinese as it allows you to express in which direction something is happening. It’s very useful for giving directions. You have to understand direction complements in Chinese as it’s easy to get confused when listening and speaking.

Direction Complements in Chinese: How do I use it in a sentence?

The sentence structure for direction complements is [Verb] + [来 / 去]

The basic complements are 来 and 去. If an action is going away from the person speaking then you use 去. However,  if the action is coming towards the speaker then we use 来:

下来:come down

下去:go down

上来:come up

上去:go down

出来:come out

出去:go out

进来:come in

进去:go in

Here are some example sentences to give you an example of how to use the complement:


I am downstairs, please come down.


Wǒ zài lóu xià, qǐng xiàlái

The library open, lets go in!

图书馆开放了, 我们进去吧

Túshū guǎn kāile, wǒmen jìnqù ba


I’m outside your house, hurry and come out!


Wǒ zài nǐ jiā wàimiàn, kuài diǎn chūlái


Direction Complements in Chinese: Using 回,过 and 起

You can also get more complex complements using  the verbs 回 , 过, 起 :

过来: come over

过去: go over

回来: to come back

回去: to go back

起来: to get up/rise

Pay attention to 过来/去 and 进来/去. These can sometimes get confused because their meaning sounds similar. 过来 is used when the person you are speaking to is far away. For example, if you are asking a friend to come over to your house. 进来 is used when you are instructing someone to enter. For example, if someone is standing outside of your office and you are telling them to come in.


What are you doing this weekend? Do you want to come over and watch TV?


Zhège zhōumò nǐ zài zuò shénme? Nǐ xiǎng guòlái kàn diànshì ma?


Your parents miss you, when are you going to go back and see them?


Nǐ fùmǔ xiǎng nǐ, nǐ shénme shíhòu huíqù kàn tāmen?


We hope you found our breakdown of verb complements useful. If you want more grammar explanations why not read our article on using 了 for Action Completion. If you have questions about the Chinese language then ask us on Quora.

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