I've been doing research on how to translate the verb "to give". I'm trying to find a common way to say it as in sentances like "I gave my friend one apple" or "My friend gave me one apple".

I haven't really seen anything different than 给, but from what I'm reading, that translates more on the lines of "for" or "for the purpose of", almost like 为.

I'm asking which verbs are commonly used to signify that something was granted to you, or that you granted something to someone else and in what sentence structure these words would be used to fit into the example sentances above (the apple situation).

3 Answers 3


给 is one of these verbs that can also be a preposition (which is quite confusing when you are not used to it). When there is no other verb near to it, it means to give. Some examples:

  • 给我勇气: give me courage
  • 把钥匙给我: give me the key
  • 叔叔给他一支笔: uncle gave/gives him a pen
  • 杭州给我的印象很好: Literally: Hangzhou gave me a good impression, a better sentence: I was impressed by Hangzhou
  • 我们给敌人一个沉重的打击: We gave the enemy a serious blow

Together with another verb it often becomes a preposition (with implicit meaning of giving something to somebody). Some examples:

  • 我给妻子做早餐: I made breakfast for my wife (= I gave my wife breakfast)
  • 给他看看照片: Let him see the photos
  • 留给他: leave it to him
  • 递给我: pass it to me
  • 送给他: to give him (as a present)
  • 他给我们当翻译: he will be our translator
  • 有事给我打电话: if there is a problem, give me a phone call

There are some other verbs (I already used them in the examples meaning to give). For example

  • 送 (typically used when you give a present)
  • 递 (to hand over)
  • 提供 (to give, to provide + opportunity,surprise,shock,job)

These can be used together with 给in two ways: 送给他礼物 or 给他送礼物, but you can also say 送他礼物.

For your apple example, often depending on the context an extra verb will be added, but you can also say it without. So you can say:

  • 朋友苹果 (in many contexts this sentence will sound as it is not finished).
  • 送给 朋友苹果
  • 朋友 苹果
  • 递给 朋友苹果
  • 朋友 苹果
  • ...

BertR's answer is quite comprehensive, but I thought I'd add that for the apple example, in colloquial Chinese at least, it would be very common to hear 给他吃/给你吃/etc. (lit. give it to him/you/etc. to eat)

While 给 can be used alone (and in all the ways detailed in the accepted answer), if there is an action expected to follow the receiving of the object (eating an apple, reading a book) an extra verb will often follow the object of 给. For example:

给你吃: lit. give it to you to eat
给她看: lit. give it to her to look at or let her look at it
给我改: lit. give it to me to correct

Syntax-wise the 给 might be seen as subservient to the second verb in these examples, or maybe even functioning as a preposition--as 给 often can. However, I feel that--in colloquial usage at least--the focus of the sentence is still on the giving action, with the latter verb providing auxiliary information.

Hope this helps!


For the action of giving a physical object, "給" is correct. Simple as that.

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