The use of 是, 在 and 有 and the definiteness of nouns
Each of this words 是, 在 and 有 has more than one usage in Chinese. In this chapter, the focus is on sentences using these three words whose English counterparts all involve the copula verb ‘be’. Because of this similarity in English, it is important to examine and compare these three types of sentences in Chinese.
1. The basic function of 是, 在 and 有
Wǒ bàba shì lǎoshī.
My father is a teacher.
Nǐ jiā zài nǎli?
Where is your house?
Wǒ yǒu yí liàng zìxíngchē.
I have a bicycle.
(a) 是 identification
是 is used to identify the subject.
Zuótiān shì wǒ de shēngrì.
Yesterday was my birthday.
(b) 在 location
在 is used to indicate where the subject is located. What follows 在 is a word or phrase indicating a location.
Wǒ jiā zài xuéxiào duìmiàn.
My house is across from the school.
(c) 有 (possession/existence)
有 is used to indicate possession (to have; to own) or existence (there is/are).
Wǒ yǒu zìxíngchē, tā méiyǒu.
I have a bicycle, he does not (have one).
Jiàoshì (li) yǒu sānshí bǎ yǐzi.
There are thirty chairs in the classroom.
Zhuō shàng yǒu yì běn shū.
There is a book on the desk.