I have some confusion about the grammar structure of 可以 Kěyǐ. I found in this website the basic usage is:

Subj. + 可以 + Verb + Obj.

But then I came across a dialogue where they put it after the verb:


Wǒ kàn yīgè yuè kěyǐ ma?

Can I read it for a month?

Question: Does this mean there is some flexibility about this order?

2 Answers 2


我[可以]看一个月吗? = [Can] I read for one month? (O)

我看一个月[可以吗?] = I read for one month, [is it possible?] (O)

我[可以]看一个月. = I [can] read for a month. (O)

我看一个月[可以]. = I read for a month [can]. (X)

我看一个月? [可以]. = I read for a month? [(yes) It is possible]. (O)


"我看一个月可以吗" is a [topic] + [comment] sentence.

  • [我看一个月] is the topic

  • [可以吗?] is the comment

The adverb "可以" in SVO sentence "我[可以]看一个月吗?" cannot be placed after the verb "看"


I doubt if

我看一个月可以吗? , should be translated to
Can I read it for a month?

我看一个月可以吗? has other translation in advanced conversation
because verb and object is hidden
note: 看 can be translated to "do you think"

It can be interpreted as 我看(这事)一个月可以(做到(某件事)/行)吗?
which is
Do you think/ Is it possible that
it can be done in a month?

But then I think you may have found this phrase from here
and it is translated as
Can I (borrow it and) read it for a month?

The answer is yes, there is some flexibility about this order

  • I took it exactly from that conversation. I didn't understood completely the "hidden" elements though. I guess I will come back to this question when I know a little bit more of chinese. But the main point it is that it continues to have the same structure of 可以 + Verb + Obj., thought in this particular case the object is implicit right?
    – Puco4
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 15:06
  • 1
    @Puco4 the website is correct about the structure as it's talking about using 可以 as "may". Using 看 and 可以 at the same time may have different meaning but don't worry about it until later. This structure is useful in many cases
    – wada
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 16:24
  • resources.allsetlearning.com/chinese/grammar/…
    – wada
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 16:24

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