I've come across: 妈妈要她的孩子在家吃饭。 However, this feels a little unnatural to me. I feel that "在家里吃饭“ or “吃饭在家” would be better. Firstly, am I correct that those word-orders would be more natural?

If so, then my second question is: why? 我要在家吃饭 seems like the best way to say "I want to eat at home". If my feeling is right (which it may not be -- it's been a long time since I've been in a Chinese speaking environment), then what is going on with "mom wants her child to eat at home?" Why do I feel like this more complex sentence somehow requires the locative-phrase 在家 to either become 在家里 or to go after the verb-phrase 吃饭 as though it were a result complement?

2 Answers 2


Essentially there is no obvious difference between the two sentences - 妈妈要她的孩子在家吃饭 = 妈妈要她的孩子在家吃饭.

, the same as 裡 and 裏, refers to "in, or inside of, a space domain", such as "在這里(in/at here)", "在那里(at there)". Here, 在家 = 在家, because the latter already has the implication of "stay in/inside the home", which is an enclosed space, therefore, is nonessential, or redundant, but not wrong either, if added.


I want to eat at home [action+location]- 我想在家(里)(飯) [location+action]

Note the grammar differences. Contrary to the English, the correct Chinese sentence structure is to put the location (at where) in front of the action (do what), for example:

  • 我 "在圖書館" "做功課" - I am "doing homework" "at the library".

  • 她 "在山坡上" "採茶" - She is "picking tea leafs" "on the hill".

Also note that the reverse is grammartically incorrect - 我想"(飯)" "在家(里)". [Wrong]

  • This hasn't answered the part of the question about the word order “吃饭在家” Nov 24, 2022 at 13:57

The mother wants her child to eat at home.

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