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


“Jeroen Wiedenhofs Grammatik ist ein umfassendes wissenschaftliches Werk für alle Linguisten, die sich grundlegendes Wissen über die sprachlichen Strukturen des modernen Hochchinesisch ohne eine intensive Sprachausbildung aneignen wollen. Aber auch für den kompetenten Sinologen oder Sprachlehrenden findet sich hier noch eine erstaunliche Fülle von Aspekten der Sprache jenseits ausgetretener Sprachlehrpfade, wie sie selten so umfangreich und doch lesbar in einem Werk anzutreffen ist. Und auch interessierten Sprachlernenden is diese umfangreiche Grammatik als begleitende Lektüre zum fortgeschrittenen Sprachstudium der gesprochenen chinesischen Hochsprache sehr zu empfehlen.”

— Andreas Guder, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, in CHUN, No. 31, 2016, pp. 130-132


“Le sobre titre du livre de Jeroen Wiedenhof ‘Une grammaire du mandarin’ ne laisse pas deviner son originalité profonde. Voilà pour la première fois sous forme d’un ouvrage une contribution à la langue chinoise qui se fonde pour l’essentiel sur un corpus de langue parlée contemporaine et dont le plan est loin d’être classique. [...] Pédagogique, contemporaine, clairement présentée et illustrée, cette grammaire ne fait l’impasse ni sur la diachronie ni sur la diversité géographique des langues sinitiques.”

— Marie-Claude Paris, Université Paris Diderot – CNRS, UMR 7110, LLF, in Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale, No. 45, 2016, pp. 105-111


“Composed of twelve chapters with an enormous tally of useful tables and figures (over 70 in fact), glossaries of terminology and appendices for the different transcription systems of Mandarin and its syllable inventory, this grammar should prove to be invaluable to linguists, sinologists and students alike. [...] A Grammar of Mandarin is certain to prove to be a classic in its field and moreover become indispensable for pinpointing the characteristics of Beijing Mandarin, appropriately in its vernacular form, as a reflection of its use in the early 21st century.”

— Hilary M. Chappell, EHESS, Paris, in The Journal of Chinese Linguistics, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2017, pp. 212-230


“an authoritative and thought-provoking contribution to the scholarship of Mandarin in English that is most welcome in the field and sure to have long-lasting impact [...] Wiedenhof has produced a volume that admirably succeeds within his rather wide-reaching selection of parameters: a synchronic description of Mandarin grounded in an extensive corpus of oral data that is of both theoretical interest and pedagogical use.”

— Richard VanNess Simmons, Rutgers University, New Jersey, in Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 140, No. 3, 2020, pp. 715-718



Victor Mair, "A new grammar of Mandarin".

In: Language Log, 28 October 2015.

Andreas Guder, "Wiedenhof, Jeroen (2015) A Grammar of Mandarin [...]".

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

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

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

Hilary M. Chappell, "A Grammar of Mandarin. By Jeroen Wiedenhof [...]".

In: The Journal of Chinese Linguistics, Vol. 45, No. 1, 2017, pp. 212-230.

Richard VanNess Simmons, "A Grammar of Mandarin. By Jeroen Wiedenhof [...]".

In: Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 140, No. 3, 2020, pp. 715-718.

Boeken van dezelfde auteur


A Grammar of Mandarin





Grammatica van het Mandarijn

2004, 20062, 20123, (herzien), 20154 (herzien), 20195




De uitspraak van het Mandarijn in 101 oefeningen

2006, 20092, 20153 (herzien), 20194




De grote taalatlas

1998, 19982, 19993 (herzien)




Meaning and syntax in spoken Mandarin

1995, 2018 (online PDF)





last modified: 27 October 2021 | home