While studying I came across a useful expression to say "I live in..." which is "...在...住" such as in this sentence:

意大利。= I live in Italy.
zài Yìdàlì zhù.

But then I saw a different one which is:

zhù zài Yìdàlì.

My questions are: Are both expressions correct? If so, are there any differences in usage and meaning? Is one of them more used currently?

  • Different structure. The position of adverbial 在意大利 locate between subject and verb in Chinese, just like the adverbial 周日 in 周日回来, in English it appears at end of the sentence. But in 我住在意大利, 住在 like a verb but not an adverbial, you can also speak 我住意大利, but you can't speak 我意大利住.
    – xenophōn
    Commented Aug 18, 2017 at 10:47

3 Answers 3


They both make sense but the 2nd one is used more commonly in Mandarin Chinese while the 1st one is used more often in Cantonese Chinese.

  • Thank you Desmond. A short question: If I used the first one speaking Mandarin, would it be seen normal by native speakers or would I get weird looks? :D
    – Alenanno
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 10:48
  • Hi Alenanno, sorry for the late reply. Native Mandarin Chinese will understand when you say that, therefore you won't get weird looks, but you may spot a couple seconds of pondering on their face. Just try to avoid it and use the 2nd one if you can. : ) Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 19:04
  • No problem. :) I have "moved" to the second one, so now I always use that. :)
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 19:06

I actually think these two sentences are slightly different. The first sentence has its emphasis on "住", for example, in the context "我不在上海上学,我在上海住。”

The second sentence has its focus on the residing place. For example, the context is 他住在哪里?他住在上海。

According to the context, you decide which sentence to use.

  • Would it sound unnatural to answer the question 你住在哪里 with 我在加拿大住?
    – Kassem
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 19:13

They are both correct.

Currently I cannot think of any difference, or if any of them is preferred in usage. Hope others can catch that.

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