In Mandarin, if we have two VO in order the second one indicates the purpose of the first action, something like "in order to" or just "to" in English, as in:

我回家学习中文 - I'll go back home (in order) TO study Chinese.

But I've seen many times a 来 appearing to convey that role, as in:

有些作业老师让学生拿回家做 - There are some homeworks the teacher let the students take back home TO do.

So, my question is: Can I always use 来 when I want to convey that meaning or does it have some specific cases?


  • Actually the second example may be better without "来"
    – fefe
    Commented Feb 11, 2020 at 2:19
  • 1
    In the second example, 去 is sometimes better than 来
    – sypicky
    Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 0:37
  • It's an example from a Chinese learning material, so I assume it's quite right. The question is not about if it's better with or without 来 or with anything else, it's when I should use it or not. Commented Feb 12, 2020 at 14:36

3 Answers 3


Simple rule: If you've got another verb after 他, translate 来 as to.

Of course, things are a bit more complex!

  1. 把杯子拿到这里来。(来 corresponds with hither)
  2. 把杯子拿到那里去。(来 corresponds with hence)

  3. 他用水来浇花。(来 corresponds with to)

  4. 他用铅笔来画画 (来 corresponds with to)

  5. 他明天来看你。(来 corresponds with ? He tomorrow to see you ?)

  6. 他马上来和我们一起吃饭。(来 corresponds with ? come? to?)

Nothing ever 'to' but it also 'come', just depends where you're standing!

You can't really use English to make sense of Chinese! Chinese makes sense!


I don't think you can use it whenever/wherever you want

try not to over use it

I think the more you see the better you can use it

Its mostly used with 用and通过

Its the reference


And in some cases l already saw with verbs like 想 and 花

Pleco 想办法来解决问题。

Hsk4 book 11-3 dialogue 每天花半个小时来读书。

Hsk4 book 15-4 text 有的孩子......,会通过哭,...来引起父母的注意。

In hsk4 book 15.4 grammar point it's said that this kind of 来 usually used in spoken Chinese and the meaning of the sentence won't change if 来 is removed from it.

So don't worry if you don't use it.


The word has many meanings and usages 来的意思 when used in various sentences. One of those usages is to use to express "to do something" as the purpose of the former action. Not as strict as "to" in English, is often not necessary and gets omitted. That is still correct in Chinese.

can be substituted by or other word. This is a little bit difficult for an English speaker to understand since he or she always uses "to" in a similar situation.

For example:

  1. 你回家就是和妈妈要钱吗? Did you come home just to ask for money from your mom?

  2. 我爸爸开车接我妈妈了. My dad drove the car out to pick up my mom.

  3. 我们制定了一个进行施工计划. We developed a plan to carry out the construction.

  4. 我们公司买了一台精密机床加工这个零件. Our company bought a precision machine to process this part.

  5. 我们公司买了一台加工这个零件精密机床. Our company bought a precision machine to process this part.

In examples 3 and 5, we use the adjective phrases with to express the "to" infinitive phrases.

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