A Grammar of Mandarin


Jeroen Wiedenhof


A fascinating description of a global language, A Grammar of Mandarin combines broad perspectives with illuminating depth. Crammed with examples from everyday conversations, it aims to let the language speak for itself. The book opens with an overview of the language situation and a thorough account of Mandarin speech sounds. Nine core chapters explore syntactic, morphological and lexical dimensions. A final chapter traces the Chinese character script from oracle-bone inscriptions to today’s digital pens.

This work will cater to language learners and linguistic specialists alike. Easy reference is provided by more than eighty tables, figures, appendices, and a glossary. The main text is enriched by sections in finer print, offering further analysis and reflection. Example sentences are fully glossed, translated, and explained from diverse angles, with a keen eye for recent linguistic change. This grammar, in short, reveals a Mandarin language in full swing.






Books by the same author


Jeroen Wiedenhof, A Grammar of Mandarin

xxiii + 461 pp.

Illustrated and with full-color language map

Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2015

Hardbound – ISBN 978 90 272 1227 6 | EUR 105.00 | USD 158.00

Paperback – ISBN 978 90 272 1228 3 | EUR 36.00 | USD 54.00

e-Book – ISBN 978 90 272 6775 7 | EUR 105.00 | USD 158.00


1. Mandarin
1 – 10
2. Phonetics and phonology
11 – 71
3. Subordination
73 – 86
4. Nouns
87 – 116
5. Verbs
117 – 179
6. Properties and states
181 – 199
7. Negations and questions
201 – 218
8. Tense, aspect and mood
219 – 247
9. Counting and classifying
249 – 288
10. Morphology
289 – 322
11. Function words
323 – 357
12. The Chinese script
359 – 406
Appendix A: The International Phonetic Alphabet
Appendix B: Syllable inventory in Pinyin
410 – 411
Appendix C: Phonological inventory of Beijing Mandarin   
412 – 413
Appendix D: The transcription of Mandarin
414 – 428
429 – 442
443 – 461
463 – 477


“Jeroen Wiedenhof’s grammar offers a radically fresh look at how Mandarin is actually spoken, revealing on every page aspects of the spoken language which other descriptions have overlooked. Richly illustrated with examples drawn from real-life conversation and texts, the grammar is linguistically informed but uses a minimum of terminology, making its insights widely accessible to language learners.”

— Stephen Matthews, The University of Hong Kong


“This is an important work that linguists have long been waiting for. Wiedenhof's erudite yet accessible grammar avoids presenting Mandarin Chinese from a Western point of view, thus challenging theorists and providing ample food for thought to all readers.”

— Martin Haspelmath, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History


“Lucid and comprehensive, Wiedenhof's grammar is a significant contribution to Chinese linguistics. It explains and illustrates the structures of Mandarin faithfully and elegantly. An indispensable book for students and teachers of the Chinese language.”

— Charles N. Li, University of California, Santa Barbara


“This book is a major achievement. The text is well organized, elegant, and exact. A Grammar of Mandarin is worthy to serve as a vade mecum for anyone who is seriously interested in Chinese language and writing.”

— Victor Mair, University of Pennsylvania


Victor Mair, "A new grammar of Mandarin".

In: Language Log, 28 October 2015.

Andreas Guder, "Wiedenhof, Jeroen (2015) A Grammar of Mandarin. Amsterdam: John Benjamins".

In: CHUN: Chinesischunterricht, No. 31, 2016, pp. 130-132.

Marie-Claude Paris, "Une grammaire du mandarin".

In: Cahiers de Linguisitique Asie Orientale, No. 45, 2016, pp. 105-111.

Books by the same author


A Grammar of Mandarin





Grammatica van het Mandarijn

2004, 20062, 20123, (revised), 20154 (revised)




De uitspraak van het Mandarijn in 101 oefeningen

2006, 20092, 20153 (revised)




De grote taalatlas

1998, 19982, 19993 (revised)




Meaning and syntax in spoken Mandarin






last modified: 26 August 2015 | home