A couple of days ago I was wondering about the word order of the translation

I want to eat in a restaurant in Beijing.

With my rather limited knowledge of Chinese (and its grammar), I thought the translation would be something like


5 Answers 5


I would say something like 我想到北京上館子.


In Chinese, the adverb of place "在 a place" is put before the Verb. If you want to say "I want to eat in a restaurant in Beijing", what you want is to eat, and you want this eating to happen in a restaurant in Beijing. The correct sentence is:

我 想 在北京的一个饭店 吃饭.

This is your sentence:

我 在北京的一个饭店 想 吃饭.

在北京的一个饭店 is immediately before the verb 想, which means the verb 想 takes place at a restaurant in Beijing. This sentence is not ungrammatical. It just means something quite different:

In a restaurant in Beijing, I want to eat.

It sounds like you are already in a restaurant in Beijing, and you desire to eat a meal. In reality, this is something rather odd, and that's why the sentence sounds strange to a native ear.

  • Thank you for your answer! I was always under the impression that "the location" precedes the verb, hence my question. But this is then not necessary the case when using a modal verb such as 想 ? Jul 4, 2021 at 9:38
  • 1
    @Philippe1123 Yes, the location precedes the verb, but in your sentence, you need to be sure which is the verb that takes place at the location. It's "eating", not "wanting". You want something to happen at a location, i.e. you want the (eating to happen in a Beijing restaurant). 在北京的一个饭店 吃饭 is what you want. Reread my answer and see if you can parse your sentence correctly.
    – monalisa
    Jul 4, 2021 at 14:10
  • I think I understand the subtlety now. But for the sake of completion, let's say “I want to eat tomorrow in a Beijing restaurant”. Would this then be: 我明天想在北京的一个饭店吃饭 or 我想明天在北京的一个饭店吃饭 ? Or doesn't it really matter where the time placement is put in the sentence? Jul 5, 2021 at 16:00
  • 1
    The second sentence 我想明天 ... is clearer and more natural in expressing what you want. The first one 我明天想 ... is also acceptable because an adverb of time is more flexible with location than an adverb of place When you put 明天 more toward the beginning of the sentence, you are placing a bit more emphasis on the time. You can also say 明天我想在北京的一个饭店吃饭, which is even more focused on the "tomorrow" part. Much like the English counterpart: Tomorrow I would like to ....
    – monalisa
    Jul 5, 2021 at 21:53
  • Thank you for the explanations! Jul 7, 2021 at 14:38

"我想在北京的xx饭店吃饭", if you have the particular restaurant (xx) in mind.

"我想在北京的饭店吃頓饭", or, "我想在北京的饭店吃(一)餐饭", you just wish to have dinner at a restaurant in Beijing.

  • Thank you for your answer! Jul 4, 2021 at 9:45
  • You are welcome.
    – r13
    Jul 4, 2021 at 18:33

Your sentence implies you are not presently in 北京。

餐馆 conjures up the idea of a small noodle bar or similar. If that's not what you mean, use 饭店。

I want to eat in a restaurant in Beijing.

I want to go to Beijing and find a (good) restaurant to eat in.

Tonight I want to go to some famous restaurant in Beijing and have dinner there.

Tonight I want to go to some famous Beijing restaurant and eat a sumptuous meal.

Please ready my jet!

  • Thank you for your answer! Jul 4, 2021 at 9:45

我想在北京的一家餐馆吃饭。(have a specific object)

我想在北京的餐馆吃饭。(not have a specific object)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.