Sentences without a subject are common in Chinese, such as “下雨啦!”, “真的把我饿坏了。”, and “原来那片空地上建了好多商业大楼。”). However, in English, a sentence generally requires a subject. In this way, when translating sentences without a subject from Chinese to English, you have to add a subject or change the sentence pattern for proper sentence structure and English grammar. Here are some methods.

1. Use passive voice in your translation.

Convert the object in Chinese sentence to the subject in your translation. In English, passive voice is generally used for cases in which the focus is on the action. When describing regulations and rules, passive voice is also employed.


Plenty of commercial office buildings have been built on that vacant land.


A new approach for addressing the alzheimer’s disease was recently appeared in the market.


Delivery and/or performance must be completed within the term stated on this PO.


Smoking is forbidden in public places.

2. Use the sentence structure of “There + be…”, “It + be… to…” and so on.

When translating Chinese proverbs, sayings, or philosophic words without a subject, you may adopt the above sentence structures.


It is never too old to learn.


Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.


Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

3. Reverse the order of the words in your translation.

When translating some Chinese sentences without a subject, which are aimed to express the existence, appearance or disappearance of something, you can reverse the order of the words for natural translation.


The PO number must appear on all invoices, bills of lading, packing slips, cartons and correspondences.


Along with those famous foreign brand computers, China’s well-known latest models of multimedia PCs were also presented at this trade fair.


Thanks to this unique feature, contamination can be spotted before the sterilization procedure, in which case the instrument can be subjected to another cleaning cycle.

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4. Use imperative sentences.

When translating Chinese slogans, orders or calls without a subject, sometimes you can adopt imperative sentence pattern.


No smoking.


No parking.


Authorized personnel only.


Please keep off the lawn.

5. Add an appropriate pronoun or noun as the subject in your translation.

When translating Chinese sentences without a subject, you can also add an appropriate pronoun or noun based on the context to make the English sentence complete.


You cannot gain any real experience without practices.


The young are different from the aged and so are young ladies from old ladies. If you do not take this into consideration, I’m afraid that you cannot solve the problem of “generation gap”.


It is not allowed to park the vehicle on a slope. In addition, you are required lower the Beam to the lowest position when parking.