I am really struggling with knowing where to place words in a sentence. In particular, I was trying to formulate some sentences using 什么 and the sentence 'What do you want to eat for lunch?' popped into my head.

So I was trying to write this in Chinese, and am a bit stuck.

I initially wrote : 你午饭要吃什么?

But that seems wrong and unnatural to me. Either like there is something missing or I have the characters in the wrong place.

I thought maybe instead : 午饭你要吃什么?

But that is certainly wrong. I am pretty sure that 你要去哪里吃午饭?is correct (hopefully my intuition is correct!), but in the same vein I can't quite figure out what would be wrong with 吃午饭,你要去哪里?

I can also think of 你在哪个地方要吃午饭?

But obviously these all mean something different to the original- these talk of place and not 'what do you want to eat'. I am still stuck on the original sentence!

Also, I have seen this SE post, but I am still unsure with regards to my specific question.

  • cf."外国人实用汉语语法" 用疑问代词的疑问句(interr. sentence in which interr. pronouns are used) 在陈述句中要着重询问的部分用疑问代词所构成的疑问句,是用疑问代词的疑问句。Also since 9. What will you have for lunch, chicken or pork? 午饭你要吃什么,鸡肉还是猪肉?is valid (jukuu) so is 午饭你要吃什么? 午饭 (here) "for lunch" may be considered an adverbial modifier, usual position is after subject before verb, thus 你午饭要吃什么?is also valid.
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 14:06

3 Answers 3


Both你午饭要吃什么?and 午饭你要吃什么?are right

These two sentences all mean what do you want to eat

“你要去哪里吃午饭 ”is correct in grammer,but it means where do you want to have lunch,it does not means what do you want to eat

吃午饭,你要去哪里?Although we can understand what the sentence mean,we simply don't speak this way

你在哪个地方要吃午饭?should be: 你要在哪个地方吃午饭?


Both '你午饭要吃什么?' and '午饭你要吃什么?' are proper sentences.

'午饭你要吃什么?' is in a [topic]+[comment/opinion] sentence structure.

'午饭' (lunch) is the topic

'你要吃什么?' (what do you want to eat) is the comment. It is a complete clause with subject, verb and object on its own.

'你午饭要吃什么?' is also a [topic]+[comment/opinion] sentence structure.

'(你)午饭' (lunch) is the topic

'要吃什么' (want to eat what?) is the comment. The subject (你) is moved to the beginning of the sentence, before the topic, but it is still the subject in the comment clause.

'什么' the pronoun is the object. You can replace it with another noun.

For example:

'午饭你要吃炸雞?' / '你午饭要吃炸雞?'

  • For the second sentence you can also see 你 as the topic.
    – NS.X.
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 23:22
  • Chinese grammar can do w/o the concept of topic-comment structure 话题说明型, see e.g. 实用现代汉语语法,外国人实用汉语语法 (where it never occurs), CCG(634 p.) mentions topic-comment structures in Ch.6 as those with verbs 是 or 有,13。2 in connection w notional passive e.g, 信我已经寄了,18。4 t-c structure with modal verbs,e.g. 你(t)应该帮助他(c)19。1Telescopic constructions e.g. 他脾气很坏 (主谓谓语句,S-P phrase as predicate in C grammars), Accordingly 午饭你要吃什么,你午饭要吃什么 may be considered as SP predicate sentences S:午饭 SP predicate:你要吃什么,你午饭要吃什么,S:你 SP predicate:午饭要吃什么 which itself is SPP: S:午饭 SP predicate (with S 你omitted)
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 14:20
  • 20。3。1 T-C expository sentences: again 是 and 有 e。g。他是我叔叔,严格有很多好处,also see Wikipedia on topic-prominent languages (Jap and Kor),also see chinese.stackexchange.com/questions/13538/…
    – user6065
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 14:22

for the last question, joke answers might better display what it asks for:





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