How to say ‘with’ in Chinese gives a lot of trouble for beginner students in learning Chinese. How to use 跟 gēn? You might be overusing it. Look at the following sentences and guess how you would translate them into Chinese.
- I study with Linda.
- I don’t like eating with chopsticks.
- How do you like your coffee, with our without sugar?
- That’s a white shirt with blue dots.
Since the literal translation of with is 跟 (gēn) in Chinese, it would be easy just to use 跟 (gēn).
- 我学习跟Linda. (Wǒ xuéxí gēn Linda)
- 我不喜欢吃饭跟筷子. (Wǒ bù xǐhuān chīfàn gēn kuàizi)
- 你喜欢怎么样的咖啡，跟糖还是不跟糖？ (Nǐ xǐhuān zěnme yàng de kāfēi, gēn táng háishì bù gēn táng?)
- 那是件白衬衫跟蓝点点. (Nà shì jiàn bái chènshān gēn lán diǎndiǎn.)
Not so fast! Don’t be so literal in how you use 跟 gēn! Read the following tips to put you on the path to the right translations.
“跟” (gēn) and “和”(hé) both are correct, but remember it’s always placed before the verb:
- “跟” (gēn)/ “和”(hé) somebody + verb
Note that if you want to emphasize you are accompanied by somebody, use 一起（yì qi3) as well
- Wǒ jīntiān gēn/hé péngyǒu chī wǎnfàn.
- I will have dinner with my friend today.
- Wǒ jīntiān gēn/hé péngyǒu yīqǐ chī wǎnfàn.
- I will have dinner together with my friend today.
With tools or manners
You can’t use “跟” (gēn) when referring to the usage of a tool. You need to use “用”（yòng), which literally means “to use”.
- “用”（yòng）something + verb
- Wǒ yòng zuǒshǒu xiězì.
- I write with my left hand.
With something (added to)
“加” (jiā) which means “to add” would be the best choice as opposed to “跟” (gēn).
- Wǒ bù xǐhuān jiā wèijīng de cài.
- I don’t like dishes with MSG (Monosodium Glutamate).)
Use the verb “带” (dài) here, which originally means “to bring”
- 带条纹的裙子 Dài tiáowén de qúnzi (a blouse with stripes)