I am confused about the sentence 这是你第一次来中国吗? I think I know the correct translation: "Is this the first time you go to China?" However, I am confused about the grammatical structure of the sentence.

I would expect that when the structure 这是 (something) 吗?is present, then (something) is a noun phrase. For example:

  • 这是你要的吗?(Is this what you want?)
  • 这是你点的菜吗?(Is this the dish you ordered?)

你要的 (what you want) and 你点的菜 (the dish you ordered) are noun phrases (right?). However, I can't identify 你第一次来中国 as a noun phrase.

If 你第一次来中国 is a noun phrase: What is the structure that makes it a noun phrase? Why does it not say 你的第一次来中国? Isn't 次 a measure word? Why can it be followed by a verb?

If 你第一次来中国 is not a noun phrase, how can it be used with 这是 (something) 吗??

2 Answers 2


Simply put. There is always S V O structure in Chinese.

In this case, 这(this) is the S, 是(is) is the V, 你第一次来中国 (your first time coming to China) is the object phrase.

PS 你第一次来中国 = 你的第一次来中国. (The 的 in the first sentence got dropped)


这是你第一次来中国吗? means Is this your first time in China?

I wouldn't consider this a noun phrase at all...

第一次 as a whole is an adverb.

is your verb.

Everything else is pretty self-explanatory and you seem to understand the other parts of the sentence.

In fact you can use 这是你第一次 as a set phrase to ask is this your first time xxx while just adding xxx at the end.

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